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February 2016 saw the 33rd running of the exciting Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race, an arduous challenge facing man and animal from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Canada. And for the third successive year, the many judges, staff, volunteers and veterinarians who operate this much followed event stayed connected with each other and the outside world over HughesNet® high-speed satellite service.
HughesNet—the nation’s leading satellite Internet service with over ! million active users—is the Official Communications Sponsor for the U.S. portion of the race. High-speed Internet access and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service is essential to quickly and efficiently communicate weather updates, course warnings, and other information to make the race safer. It also enables officials to update results on the website and steadily feed information to fans and media around the world.
“So much of executing the Yukon Quest hinges on being able to talk to each other up and down the trail,” said Marti Steury, Yukon Quest Executive Director – Alaska. “Months of preparation go into the race, but with so many people moving around at once, it’s impossible to anticipate everything that can happen. The high quality of HughesNet service enables our race staff to talk instantly and resolve situations quickly and accurately.”
The Yukon Quest officials responsible for major operations during the race—Marshal Doug Grilliot, Manager Alex Olesen, and Head Veterinarian Dr. Nina Hansen—relied in particular on the satellite VoIP service to coordinate operations up and down the course. Telephone access between checkpoints enabled them to speak directly and with their team members to help keep the dogs, mushers, support crews and Yukon Quest staff safe as they crossed the difficult Arctic terrain.
“We don’t have time for committee meetings. We have to decide and go. The Hughes HX system helps us knock hours off the decision-making process. That increases safety levels and our team’s productivity,” Grilliot said.
“The Yukon Quest is the ultimate challenge for our technology— a challenge we’ve met three times now,” said Peter Gulla, senior vice president, marketing, Hughes North America. “Our satellite units have worked in extreme cold over vast distances in all kinds of weather to provide the Yukon Quest with voice and data service for managing the race and keeping the world up to date on each development in real time. We’re glad that we can help the race run as safely and smoothly as possible.”
Hughes partner Will Johnson, owner of Alaska Satellite Internet, installed the Hughes satellite terminals on the U.S. half of the Yukon Quest trail. Johnson flew the Hughes HX systems to six U.S. checkpoints—landing on roads when no landing strip was available—then set them up and managed network operations throughout the race.
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