Mike Campbell

When defending Tesoro Iron Dog champions Marc McKenna of Anchorage and Eric Quam of Eagle River zoom off Big Lake on Sunday morning at the start of the world's longest and toughest snowmachine race, both will be aiming for a repeat victory. Just not together. McKenna, 34, has traded both partners and machines, hooking up with three-time champion Dusty Van Meter and riding a Ski-Doo instead of the Arctic Cat that delivered him to the finish line first last year. Quam, 38, is still on his Arctic Cat, but he's teamed with rookie Bradley Helwig this year. In a 2,000-mile race that always results in broken metal and usually in broken bones, broken partnerships are inevitable too. "Occasionally, (racers) get out there on the trail and find out they don't get along," said Iron Dog treasurer Jim...Mike Campbell
When Tim Moser first strolled onto the UAA campus as its women's basketball coach three years ago and headed to the Wells Fargo Sports Center, one thing about the small gym jumped out. No recent banners. And not much recent success. UAA hadn't won a conference title since 1989 and hadn't had a winning season since joining the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2001. But under Moser, the winning started early, happened often and culminated Tuesday, when the Seawolves were voted the top women's Division II basketball team in the country for the first time since the program's inception in 1977. Two hard-fought victories last week over tough opponents and Saturday's loss by previous No. 1 Northern Kentucky set up the Seawolves to climb the final rung to the top of the poll. UAA had...Mike Campbell
After years of squeezing into the cramped confines of Northway Mall for years, the Anchors Aweigh Boat Show moves into the expansive new Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center on Friday. "It's a breath of fresh air, a major relief," said Dudley Benesch of Alaska Mining and Diving, one of the vendors. "It's really going to be phenomenal." "There's definitely going to be greater interest," agreed Buster Hall, the show director. "In the Northway Mall we only had eight to 10 vendors strung out through the hallways. This year, we've got 26 vendors spread out over 35,000 square feet -- with a beer garden next door." Alaskans who love boats put themselves in craft as small as packrafts and as big as yachts. In between are runabouts, cruisers, twin-hulls, air boats, rafts, riverboats, sailboats,...Mike Campbell
Before the bomb, Maj. Marc Hoffmeister was an avid outdoorsman who loved mountain biking, kayaking and running. Before the bomb, Hoffmeister was a top endurance athlete who competed in such adventure races as the Eco-Challenge in Fiji and USA Supreme Adventure Race in Utah. But on April 22, 2007, while serving with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) out of Fort Richardson, Hoffmeister was patrolling with 15 other soldiers and three interpreters when a roadside bomb exploded in Al Hillah, Iraq, ripping through his vehicle. He survived. But despite his injuries, Hoffmeister knows how fortunate he is to be able to compete at all these days. "I'm still around to grow old with my loving wife and family," he said. Nonetheless, severe damage to Hoffmeister's left arm and head deliver daily...Mike Campbell
Not far behind some of the biggest names in sled dog racing, 21-year-old Pete Kaiser of Bethel delivered a surprising fifth place finish in the Kuskokwim 300 that had local fans cheering Tuesday. "It went good, a little better than expected," Kaiser said by phone after the race. "The whole team was unproven for this length of race. It was amazing how the dogs kept their speed until the end." Left behind were such top veteran mushers as DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow, a 12-time top-10 Iditarod finisher who was 11th; Ed Iten of Kotzebue, who has six top-10s in his last seven Iditarods and finished seventh here; and Aaron Burmeister of Nenana, who owns five top-20 Iditarod finishes and wound up 14th in the Kusko. Kaiser's finish, which earned him $6,000, was the best by a hometown musher in the...Mike Campbell
Once again, Mitch Seavey of Sterling delivered a fearsome finish to begin his 2009 season exactly where his 2008 season ended -- in the winner's circle. Seavey early this morning wrapped up his second consecutive Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race, coming from behind on the last stretch to win in 38 hours, 30 minutes, just eight minutes faster than Martin Buser of Big Lake. Jeff King of Denali Park, who led earlier Monday, slipped to third, 90 minutes behind Seavey. Seavey's second consecutive Kusko victory was his third overall in the world's richest middle-distance sled dog race, earning him $20,000 of the $100,000 purse. Only King, who has won eight times in Bethel, owns more Kusko titles. And just like last year, Seavey proved to be a scary closer. Twelve months ago, Seavy grabbed the lead...Mike Campbell
Recreational boating fatalities dipped in Alaska again last year, continuing a downward trend that extends over the past two decades. Twelve Alaskans perished in recreational accidents in 2008, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. By contrast, an average of 45 died each year here in the late 1980s -- including 70 in 1985. Seventeen perished in 2007. "We were all over the board until 2000 when the state passed a boating safety law, and the trend has been consistently downward," said Mike Folkerts, recreational boating safety special for the U.S. Coast Guard based in Juneau. "Alaska's boating safety program is the primary driving factor." Joe McCullough, education coordinator in the state office of boating safety, particularly likes the trend. "It's nice, but we don't focus on single years,"...Mike Campbell
Maybe he's mushing's version of "The Natural." With a show of speed over the last half of the 150-mile course, Lewis Pavilla of Kwethluk on Monday won the first sled-dog race he entered, capturing the Bogus Creek 150 before dawn. Pavilla, 32, earned the $5,000 winner's share of the $25,000 purse and after passing runner-up Myron Angstman, the Kuskokwim 300 race chairman, in the final stretch. Angstman earned $4,000 for finishing second. Pavilla passed Angstman, a former Kusko 300 champion, between Tuluksak and Kwethluk on the return to the Bethel finish line. Pavilla, the father of two, has only been mushing two years and his Bad River Kennel has just 16 dogs. Nine of them were in harness when he crossed the Bethel finish line at 6:58 a.m. Eleven mushers trailed Pavilla. Herman Phillip,...Mike Campbell
Wet, warm weather blanketing much of Alaska forced organizers of the world's richest mid-distance sled dog race to postpone Friday's scheduled start. The 30th running of the $100,000 Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race was pushed back to 3 p.m. today, with the shorter Bogus Creek 150 due to start an hour later. Some racers and organizers feared this week's warm-up would turn the race into a rerun of last year's "Kusko-swim" that turned the 300-mile trail from snow to water in 24 hours, pinning down two mushers 50 miles from the finish line and putting more than a dozen snowmachines under water. "Flotation devices wouldn't have been that bad of an idea," Kasilof musher Paul Gebhardt said at last year's race. "It's not a smart thing to stand in the middle of a river in water." Organizers say this...Mike Campbell
Anchored by Anchorage's Jeremy Teela, the U.S. men's biathlon relay team posted its best result in international competition since the breakup of the Soviet Union, finishing fifth before a loud crowd of 17,800 fans Wednesday at a World Cup race in Ruhpolding, Germany. "It was unbelievable," U.S. coach Per Nilsson said in a press release after the Americans finished ahead of Russia and 1.8 seconds behind fourth-place Italy. "It was close to a medal, which is what we are aiming for," he added. Twenty-two teams competed. Teela and Kasilof's Jay Hakkinen skied legs for the U.S. team that held off the Russians, French and Czechs. Teela, skiing the last leg, delivered one of his finest efforts in his 12 years on the U.S. team that includes two Olympics. He started in sixth place, with the...Mike Campbell