READERS LIKE MOE AND JOE
ALPINE SKIER EDGES REDINGTON
By Van Williams
Daily News Reporter
The greatest accomplishment by an Alaska athlete the past 100 years
was Tommy Moe's unexpected Olympic victory.
That's the opinion of Alaskans who voted Moe, the 1994 Olympic downhill
gold medalist, the Alaska Athlete of the Century.
''Only true Alaska world champion -- an Olympic champion,'' wrote
Lana Johnson, who selected Moe No. 1 on her top-10 ballot.
Moe was the people's choice based on a Daily News readers poll in
which he beat out late mushing legend Joe Redington Sr. and basketball
star Trajan Langdon on points.
''World's best,'' Clayton Robertson wrote of Moe. ''He won a gold
medal in a sport not many Americans have.''
The Girdwood skier is one of two Americans to win the Olympic downhill.
Moe added a silver in the super-G at the 1994 Olympics, but winning
gold on the world's largest stage seemed to be the driving force
''Gold medal, duh!'' wrote Tim Mraz.
Of the 421 ballots, Moe received a small portion of the first-place
votes (21) but was listed among the top 10 on nearly every one.
Some picked Moe over Redington, known as the Father of the Iditarod,
based on Moe's physical accomplishment.
''Gold medal in a sport requiring his (not his dogs') athletic ability,''
Howard Hoen wrote.
Redington, founder of the world-famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
and a 15-time finisher in the event, received the most first-place
''Mushing is an Alaska sport, and Joe put it on the map,'' wrote
Bob Ernisse, who voted the Knik musher No. 1. ''Thanks, Joe.''
In 1973, Redington created the Iditarod, the longest and richest
sled dog event in the world, to draw attention to the Alaskan husky.
Snowmachines were replacing huskies in the Bush, and Redington,
a great believer in the dogs' abilities, feared the animals would
''He promoted his sport not for glory, but for love,'' Patsy Bushwell
Today, the Iditarod is considered the Super Bowl of distance mushing.
''Over the years, he had the biggest influence in any sport,'' Joe
As a racer, Redington was a sentimental favorite. In 1988, a 71-year-old
Redington recorded a career-best Iditarod finish of fifth. In 1997,
at age 80, he entered his 19th Iditarod.
''He typifies the Alaskan spirit,'' Ron Hawkins wrote.
So does Langdon, in his own way. If Redington put Alaska mushing
on the map, Langdon supplied Alaska with national attention in a
much more mainstream sport.
''He captured my Alaskan pride like no other athlete has,'' wrote
Sonny Traxinger, who voted Langdon No. 1.
While at East High from 1991 to 1994, Langdon helped the Thunderbirds
win three straight Class 4A state championships and earn a national
ranking while becoming Alaska's only three-time player of the year.
''I've seen him play before, and he's really good,'' Michael Liebner
Langdon's on-court skills blossomed at Duke University from 1995
to 1999, and he became the school's all-time leading three-point
shooter and a three-time All-American. A first-round draft selection
of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Langdon this season became the first
Alaskan to play in the NBA, the world's highest level.
Beyond his hoops savvy, the 23-year-old is considered a role model
because of his work ethic, humility and willingness to call Alaska
his home even after making the big time.
''He is the epitome of what we wish all our teenagers could be like,''
Yvonne Whalen wrote.
Here's a sampling of what other readers said about some of their
* Gwen Stetson on musher George Attla: ''He did on one leg what
most couldn't do on two.''
* Pat Koch on musher Rick Swenson: ''The hardest thing to do --
win five Iditarods.''
* Steven Kramer on musher Susan Butcher: ''Sorry, Rick, but the
Iditarod has always been popular locally. Butcher made the Iditarod
a newsworthy event for the rest of the sports sections in the country.''
* Jim Renkert on skier Hilary Lindh: ''Hilary never got the recognition
she deserved. Just as she really started to shine, she was overshadowed
by more flamboyant teammates.''
* Robert Hayes on hockey player Scott Gomez: ''He's already a star
in the NHL.''
* Karen Nelson on skier Nina Kemppel: ''All-around champion, athlete
and person. Simply the best athlete.''
* J. Wayne Erickson on explorer-adventurer Norman Vaughan: ''When
you consider the true physical, spiritual and inspirational quality
of this man, he stands alone.''
* Sally Jo Collins on Native sports champion Brian Randazzo: ''He
brings honor and integrity to centuries-old Native Alaskan games
of strength and skill.''
* Brian Chong on hockey player Steve MacSwain: ''He is the shining
example of the toughness and spirit synonymous with Alaska and its
* John Mayer on mountain runner Nancy Pease: ''To watch her bounding
down the trail at Mount Marathon was a truly extraordinary moment.''
* Gus Gallaway on musher Dr. Roland Lombard: ''His care and conditioning
of dogs set the new standard.''
And, finally, a logic few could find fault with:
* Herb Schlereth on three-time Super Bowl winner Mark Schlereth:
''He's my little boy!''
Reporter Van Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.