St. John Valley Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2002

10th Annual Can-Am Crown thrills thousands

by Wendall Roy

FORT KENT - Heavy snowfall days before Saturday's races was a boon to the l0th Annual Can-Am Crown, and thousands of spectators filled ,Fort Kent to watch their favorite mushers and hordes of energetic sled dogs.

With the temperature hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, fans were treated to hot coffee and cider, as well as doughnuts and other snacks, by volunteers at local businesses and banks.

The crowd surrounding the start of the race was less congested than in previous years, thanks to a new speaker system that broadcasted announcers Alain Ouellette and Charles Closser along the eqtire length of West Main Street.

The two gave a history of each musher as they entered the starting chute, detailing the musher's lead dogs and motivating the crowd. to join in the 10-second countdown.

The two shorter races, the Pepsi/Budweiser Can Am 30 and Keybank Can-Am 60, finished Saturday amid cool.temperiltures and good trail conditions, but the 250-mile race had to weather a warm spell on Sunday that turned parts of the trail to ice and was exhausting to both dogs and mushers.

One-third of the teams in the MBNA Can-Am 250 decided to withdraw from.the race at one of the checkpoints.

Winners of the two shorter races were honored at an awards ceremony early Sunday morning, and the 250-mile race winners and finishers were honored Tuesday evening.

Both celebrations took place at the races' finish line, Lonesome Pine Trails.

Little more than 30 minutes separated the top three finishers in the MBNA Can-Am250, all arriving at Lonesome Pine Trails early Monday morning.

Top honors in the 250-mile race went to Martin Massicotte of St. Tite, Quebec, who arrived at Lonesome Pine Trails at 5:07:20 a.m.

Massicotte also had the fastest time, as of press time, for the last leg of the race.

Steven DuPlessis of St. Zenon, Quebec, finished second, arriving at 5:30:25 a.m.

Bruce Langmaid of Blackstock, Ontario, finished third, arriving at 5:39:39 a.m.; he . also had the fastest times for the first two legs of the race.

The 250-mile race was tough on local competitors this year; both veteran Don Hibbs of Millinocket and Larry Murphy of Fort Kent, who was attempting tile 250-mile race for the first time, succumbed to the challenging weather.

Steve Kennedy of Wallagrass did finish the race, arriving at Lonesome Pine Trails at 6:03:04 a.m. Tuesday; he will share in the $4,000 special "anniversary purse" split between all finishers.

Finishing first in the Pepsi/Budweiser Can-Am 30 was Sebastien Cassan of St, 'Michel des Saintes, Quebec, with a time of 2:43:03; fmishing second was Bev Van Alstine of Marmora, Ontario, 3:03:15; and finishing third was Carl Deblois of Frampton, Quebec, 3:03:49.

Local finishers in the race include: Yves Carrier of St. Francois, N.B., 3:58:45; Guy Landry of St. Francois, N.B., 4:12:09; Mike Paradis of Fort Kent, 4:16:06; Lynne Cyr of Fort Kent, 4:48:25; Mary Wolf of St. Francis, 5:13:10; Mike Wolf of St. Francis, 5:15:20; and Buddy Trudel ofSt. Francis, 5:20:10.

First place in the Keybank Can-Am 60 went to Marcel Drouin of Embrun, Ontario, with a time of 5:48:59; second place was Boyd Wilson of Mam1ora, Ontario, 5:53:29; and third place was Billy Foster of Poland, 6:17:38.

Local finishers in the Can-Am 60 include: Gaetan Martin of St Basile, N.B.,7:26:49; John Kaleta of Eagle Lake, 7:55:03; and Dennis Cyr of Fort Kent, 8:06:37.