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Craig Medred

Fresh off a starring role in Dan Sullivan’s successful bid to become a U.S. Senator from Alaska, Soldotna’s Cory Davis appeared as the featured presenter for a Monday rollout of what is planned to be the first Anchorage start for the Iron Dog snowmachine race early next year.

Davis, the son of seven-time Iron Dog champ Scott Davis and a snowmachine driver of some note himself, scored a lot of face time on Alaska TV during the U.S. Senate race. He was featured in an advertisement poking fun at incumbent Sen. Mark Begich’s efforts to portray himself as an Alaskan-of-the-people by jumping onto a snowmachine and speeding off across the tundra of the North Slope...

Craig Medred

One-time Iditasport promoter and organizer Dan Bull was always honest about his vision of how best to put an international spotlight on his 350-mile bike and ski race along the frozen Iditarod Trail from Knik to McGrath: Get someone killed.

Sure, he didn't put it quite that bluntly. He couched his thinking more in terms of how someone dying wouldn't be a bad thing in terms of "extreme sports'' marketing. It might be a good thing.

Not for the dead person, of course, but for the race. Death is the ultimate extreme. The world notices. It makes the risk of an extreme sport obvious. And people, for some reason, are entertained by other people taking risks. They're drawn to the danger like moths to light...

Craig Medred

Fall came late to the Anchorage Hillside this year. The winds didn't go over 80 mph until early November, and when they did, they ripped leaves off the alders. Back in the day, leaves never stayed on the alders into November. The winds ripped them off in September or October. As a serious waterfowl hunter, it has been hard to ignore this aspect of our climatic shift. A series of Labrador retrievers and I have lived for fall storms for decades. We counted on howling winds to ground southbound mallards and pintails in the Portage and Twentymile marshes at the head of Turnagain Arm. There have been fewer and fewer of those fall storms in past years, and more and more mild days filled with mosquitoes and no-see-ums. The bugs hung around well into October this year...

Craig Medred

Something needs to be made bluntly clear in the wake of this week's conclusion by the National Transportation Safety Board about the causes of the crash of Alaska State Troopers Helo 1 near Talkeetna in March 2013, because some people just don't seem to understand what the board said.

The NTSB did not say trooper management contributed to the crash that killed helicopter pilot Mel Nading, trooper Tage Toll and snowmachiner Carl Ober. The safety board did not say trooper management played a "role" as has been reported elsewhere. The facts are the safety board went way beyond that.

The safety board said trooper management tipped the first domino in a string of dominoes that didn't stop falling until a state helicopter hit the ground and three people died...

Craig Medred

The deadly crash of Alaska State Trooper Helo 1 near Talkeetna in 2013 was tied to state Department of Public Safety policies that encouraged pilot Mel Nading to take dangerous risks, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded.

The state agency says it has since moved to tighten its policies.

Nading, 55, died in the March 30, 2013 crash along with 40-year-old Trooper Tage Toll and 56-year-old Carl Ober, a snowmachine rider Nading and Toll had set out to rescue after he crashed in a remote area along a powerline intertie...

Craig Medred

Exactly when and where fat-tire bikes went from being a northern fad to a mainstream form of winter recreation is unclear, but the phenomenon is here to stay. Look around the state's largest city these days and it sometimes looks like fatbikes, as these bicycles are commonly called, are everywhere. "During winters 20 years ago, there would be 10 skiers for every biker on the (Tony Knowles) Coastal Trail,'' observed diehard Anchorage Nordic skier Tim Kelley. "Now there are 10 fatbikers for every skier. The days of Anchorage being a ski town are over. Now Anchorage is a fatbike town."

One local bike dealer estimates the city is now home to up to 10,000 fatbike riders, despite the fact such bikes can cost upward of $7,000. Welcome to Fatbike City...

Craig Medred

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- The second annual Arctic Circle Assembly wrapped up Sunday in this beautiful city on the western shore of a 40,000-square-mile, volcanic rock in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and most of the 1,300 people who came from around the globe to discuss the future of the Arctic began boarding the jet airplanes that would take them home.

The dream of Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the small country's No. 1 promoter, and Alice Rogoff, publisher of Alaska Dispatch News, the assembly is part economic summit, part environmental conference, and part social gathering that does nothing so much as encourage discussion of Arctic issues.

Here are 10 main takeaways from the discussions at the 2014 assembly:...

Craig Medred

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Get ready to order those beach umbrellas in Barrow. One of the leading authorities on the physics of northern seas is predicting an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2020. That's about two decades sooner than various models for climatic warming have indicated the Arctic might fully open. "No models here," Peter Wadhams, professor of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge in England, told the Arctic Circle Assembly on Sunday. "This is data." Wadhams has access to data not only on the extent of ice covering the Arctic, but on the thickness of that ice....

Craig Medred

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Coming soon to an Arctic Ocean north of you: Icebreaking LNG tankers?

Maybe.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. , a Korea-based company that is a world leader in marine vessel construction, caught more than a few attending the Arctic Circle Assembly by surprise on Saturday when it unveiled what appeared to be multipage sales brochure for such a vessel to be available in 2016.

The revelation came about halfway through a program on "Business Across the Arctic." Moderator Scott Borgerson opened the session by noting "shipping is 90 percent of world trade."...

Craig Medred

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Arctic oil and gas drilling could spell the end of humanity, suggested a group of academics gathered at the Arctic Circle Assembly here Friday.

The thinking of the panel of professors from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Canada and the U.S. went like this:

Global warming opens the Arctic to oil and gas development. New oil and gas production means more global warming. More global warming opens even more of the Arctic, which leads to even more drilling.

And pretty soon climate change threatens or kills everyone...

Craig Medred

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