The Iron Dog lost one of its top racers Monday when two-time champion Tyler Huntington was seriously injured Monday when he was thrown off his snowmachine while training near Shaktoolik on the Norton Sound coast.
Huntington, the winner in 2010 and 2011 and the runnerup last year, was medevacked to Anchorage with a broken pelvis, Iron Dog executive director Kevin Kastner said.
Huntington, who was raised in Galena and lives in Fairbanks, was paired with Nome's Evan Booth for this year's 2,000-mile snowmachine race across Alaska.
As he was being treated Monday, Huntington urged Booth to find another partner and stay in the race.
"Tyler had his short list of recommendations as he was being given morphine," Kastner said.
An Alaska State Trooper report said that Huntington, 27, was three miles north of Shaktoolik when he crashed at high speed.
Kastner said Huntington was traveling about 80 mph hour when he hit a piece of driftwood along the side of the trail and was launched off his snowmachine.
"That's all it took at that speed. It sent him forward," Kastner said. "The only damage to the machine was the windshield. He probably was thrown through it."
Booth, aboard his own machine, went to Shaktoolik for help, Kastner said. Huntington was medevacked first to Norton Sound Regional Hospital in Nome and then to Anchorage with serious but none-life-threatening injuries, the trooper report said. He will need surgery, Kastner said.
Huntington won the 2010 and 2011 races with partner Chris Olds and placed second last year with Tre West.
He didn't immediately sign up for this year's race, but when Micah Huss of Willow and Dan Lowrie of Phoenix dropped out earlier this month, Huntington and Booth -- a two-time champ with victories in 1992 and 1994 with Dan Zipay -- took advantage of the opening.
"It's kinda a bummer because everyone in the Bush was getting excited about them," Kastner said.
The Iron Dog begins Sunday, Feb. 17, in Big Lake. Racers will be in Nome on Feb. 20 and the race will finish in Fairbanks on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Reach Beth Bragg at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG