Team 7 wins Iron Dog 2022 in dominating fashion
Aklestad and Olstad champs for second time in three years
BIG LAKE, Alaska (KTUU) - Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad of Team 7 were crowned Iron Dog 2022 champions as the first team to return to Big Lake on Saturday morning.
The Team 7 pair won their second race in three years as Aklestad and Olstad finished in 7 days, 1 hour and 28 minutes. The winners have been running in the Iron Dog for 17 years and they said without a doubt that this year was the roughest yet.
“Mentally in your head you are getting ready for a nice smooth section and it’s not,” Aklestad said. “It wasn’t smooth.”
Team 7 started the race in the 21st position, with serious ground to make up en route to their second victory in three years. Olstad said they were able to get better position by making aggressive moves — passing a number of teams the first day — which allowed Team 7 to reach McGrath in the lead.
“It just kept coming at you and coming at you and just wouldn’t stop, it was just relentless.” Olstad said.
After taking the lead in McGrath, Team 7 maintained their lead the entire way back to the finish line at the Menard Center in Wasilla.
“I think it’s cool to chalk it up too,” Olstad said. “This is the second year of this course and last year we had some tough luck early on, on day one some fluke issue that kind of took us out of the race eventually. To get a win on this new course and the extended length and especially being probably considered one of the hardest, roughest ones ever is pretty, it’s going to be special.”
Olstad — a 39-year-old from Wasilla — has raced the Iron Dog for 15 years and won his fifth title on Saturday. Aklestad — a 36-year-old from Palmer — also has four Arctic Man titles to his name and has competed in 17 Iron Dog snowmachine races, winning his third title on Saturday.
Olstad said that he would like to compete in the Iron Dog at least once more, and Aklestad said his time to retire is coming soon as well. The recently dominant duo of Aklestad and Olstad may be done competing in the Iron Dog soon, making way for new champions.
Team 7 rode Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS sleds and finished well ahead of Team 10 of Mike Morgan and Christopher Olds, who took second place.
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