A number of scientists seem to agree that the contest is a credible historical measure of climate change in Alaska, and this is backed up by an early melt that occurred in the famously warm 1998.
During the history of the Ice Classic, the earliest calendar date the ice broke was April 20 in both 1940 and 1998; the latest date was May 20, 1964. The last prize awarded as of May 6, 2008 was $303,985.00. So let's look at recent recordings of ice breakages:
1998: April 20 (equal earliest date)
1999: April 29
2000: 1 May
2001: 8 May
2002: 7 May
2003: 29 April
2004: 24 April
2005: 28 April
2006: 2 May
2007: 27 April
2008: 6 May
You won't find any news stories about this, but by looking at the program, it appears that in 2008, the ice in the Tanana River maintained the tripod for the 35th longest time in its 81 year history. In other words, the ice in the river remained for a time that was a little longer than average. All of which serves to support the much-repeated refrain of the sceptics - it really hasn't warmed since 1998.
CORRECTION: that should be 35th longest time in its 91 year history.