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Marc Lester

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NOME -- Behind a strong team of nine champion Alaskan huskies, 28-year-old Dallas Seavey from Willow rolled under the burled arch on Front Street in this fabled gold mining town in the wee hours of Wednesday to seal the deal on a victory in the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and put the Seavey stamp solidly on the current era of Alaska dog mushing.With the northern lights flickering overhead, a morning crowd still recovering, or yet to recover, from St. Patrick's Day celebrations the day before gave him a warm welcome as he notched Iditarod win number three.Read more: Dallas, Mitch Seavey cruise to one-two Iditarod finish
Suzanna Caldwell

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Defending champion Dallas Seavey pulled into White Mountain at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday, taking another step toward what would be his third Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race title. Seavey averaged 6.3 mph on the trip from Elim and now has a mandatory eight-hour rest before he can set off for Nome. That means he can leave at 6:10 p.m. If he can make the 80-mile trip to Nome in 11 hours, he would reach the finish line about 5 a.m.Behind him is a familiar face. His father Mitch, also a two-time champion, leapfrogged into second place early Tuesday, leaving the Elim checkpoint at 6:10 a.m., 16 minutes ahead of Aaron Burmeister of Nome. Read more: Dallas Seavey reaches White Mountain for an 8-hour rest before stretch runWatch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Suzanna Caldwell

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KOYUK -- Jeff King’s Monday evening run here was challenging as his dogs struggled to run on the sugar-snow-covered trail heading into the coastal village.But things got even crazier for King when he was charged by what he called a “rabid seal.”“Have I got a story for you,” the four-time Iditarod champion told Alaska Dispatch News on Monday shortly after pulling into the checkpoint.King insists the spotted seal -- which he estimated at more than 4 feet long -- charged his team about 15 miles from the checkpoint. Locals appeared less than convinced that such an event could occur, but didn’t rule out the possibility. Even veteran musher Sebastian Schnuelle, who's reporting for the Iditarod Trail Committee on Iditarod Insider, said he encountered what looked like a pregnant spotted seal on his way to the checkpoint the same day and noted the seal appeared to charge at him.The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says that spotted seals can weigh 200 pounds and reach 5 feet in length. Females typically give birth to a single pup in April or May.King took some time to tell the whole story. He maintains that it wasn’t a hallucination -- something he said he’s never experienced on the trail. But he maintained it was something he had never seen in 25 years of Iditarod racing.Fish and Game notes, "When spotted seals move across ice or land it is in a fashion that resembles an inchworm movement that is typical of true seals."
Suzanna Caldwell

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Musher Aaron Burmeister talks about his 15-hour run breaking trail through a snowstorm on the Norton Sound coast after he arrived in the Iditarod checkpoint in Koyuk on Monday, just minutes behind defending champion Dallas Seavey.Burmeister was still resting at the checkpoint by the time Seavey pulled out shortly before 5 p.m., and will have some catching up to do if he still hopes to take the title from Seavey.He spoke with Alaska Dispatch News shortly after arriving.
Suzanna Caldwell

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Dallas Seavey, defending Iditarod champ, looked well-positioned to potentially grab back-to-back titles when he pulled into the coastal community of Koyuk Monday, mere minutes ahead of challenger Aaron Burmeister. Seavey passed Burmeister just outside the checkpoint, after letting the Nome musher break trail most of the way from Shaktoolik. Seavey left about four hours after first arriving, and spoke with Alaska Dispatch News before his departure.Watch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Alaska Dispatch News

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Clear and cold -- that's been the theme of the weather so far during the 2015 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. After a warmer-than-usual winter around the state that forced the race's traditional Willow start to be pushed north to the cooler Interior locale of Fairbanks, mushers have been met with biting cold that's left fingers frostbitten and faces frigid.But, there's an upside. All the clear weather has meant that there are some great views of the northern lights, which offers something to watch while standing outside in the middle of the night waiting for mushers to arrive.Sunday morning saw just such a happy coincidence, as the aurora emerged in the skies over Kaltag, the last stop along the Yukon River for the Iditarod mushers.
Tara Young

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Alaska Native elder Lorena Paniptchuk now lives in Unalakleet, but she was born and raised in Shaktoolik, north along the Bering Sea coast. She learned how to sew from her grandmothers and mother, and from watching the older girls in her village. She started by making baby booties and gradually learned how to make hats, kuspuks, parkas and mukluks. She also learned how to cut wolf and wolverine skins for sunshine ruffs.Paniptchuk is thankful for her skills and to have something to keep her hands busy. She wishes the younger generation would take interest in similar activities, to keep them out of trouble and to pass down the traditional ways. “I wish young people around here would have a desire to learn things and live right, no drugs and no alcohol," Paniptchuk says. Cataracts have slowed Paniptchuk's sewing and beading for the past few years, but she manages to keep at it. Life in the remote Alaska village isn’t cheap; fuel, food and other necessities are costly so Paniptchuk still makes traditional wares by hand to get by.“I’ve got to try to survive whatever way I could,” she says.
Loren Holmes

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It has been two months since the January afternoon when Jared Smallwood got a strange feeling while eating a bowl of cereal in the Arctic Boulevard trailer he shared with his older sister.He hadn’t heard anything from the bedroom for a while. He wondered what she was doing.Inside, he found Summer Myers slumped over on a bed strewn with clothing, a needle next to her. A tourniquet sat on the bedside table, along with an overflowing ashtray, prescription pill bottles and a bottle of chocolate milk.He lifted her up. She was stiff. Her face was contracted, as if she’d had a seizure.The 19-year-old tried to resuscitate his sister as he called 911.When medics arrived, they dragged her into the kitchen and declared her dead.Police descended on the scene to take photographs and compile reports.Later, they gave the investigation files to Myers’ mother, Jackie Smallwood.The pictures taken by police are hard to look at: a young woman’s lifeless body, crumpled on the linoleum floor. She wears a polka-dot sundress, her skin blotched purple and white.Don’t turn away, Smallwood says: See what heroin did to my child. Read more: After a daughter's heroin overdose, a mother's griefWatch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more of our videos.
Loren Holmes

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The northern lights put on a show for Iditarod mushers and their dogs as they rested in Huslia on Saturday morning, March 14, 2015.Just 300 people live in the Koyukon Athabascan village, but for those lined up along the street leading to the Huslia dog yard and cheering in race leader Aaron Burmeister -- the first Iditarod racer ever to arrive in the mushing mecca of Huslia -- it felt a whole lot bigger. ​“This is like winning the Iditarod,” Burmeister said of the enthusiastic crowd as he bedded down his dogs, surrounded by the hundreds of villagers that came out to watch him be first into the checkpoint. Burmeister didn't just collect the official GCI Dorothy Page halfway award and the $3,000 worth of gold nuggets that come with it. He collected an unexpected surprise when the community offered up its own award for the first musher-- a pair of beaded beaver mitts, a beaded cross and a marten hat.Burmeister, who collected the halfway award in Cripple last year, was humbled by the support.“I can’t put into words how special this was,” he said. “What a treat to have everyone out for me.”
Alaska Dispatch News

Polar bear rolls around in snow at Memphis Zoo - LoneWolf Sager (◑_◑)

Payton, a male polar bear at the Memphis Zoo, got a treat last week when a snowstorm filled his den with a bunch of the white fluffy stuff. The zoo was closed due to the inclement weather, but Payton seemed to thoroughly enjoy the snow day.
Loren Holmes

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When Aaron Burmeister rolled into the Koyukon Athabascan village of Huslia Thursday night, a big crowd of fans cheered an Iditarod racer arrived in the mushing mecca for the first time. Huslia was the long-time home of the late George Attla, a legend of sled-dog racing.“This is like winning the Iditarod,” Burmeister said of the enthusiastic crowd as he bedded down his dogs, surrounded by the hundreds of villagers that came out to watch him be first into the checkpoint. Burmeister didn't just collect the official GCI Dorothy Page halfway award and the $3,000 worth of gold nuggets that come with it. He collected an unexpected surprise when the community offered up its own award for the first musher-- a pair of beaded beaver mitts, a beaded cross and a marten hat.Burmeister, who collected the halfway award in Cripple last year, was humbled by the support.“I can’t put into words how special this was,” he said. “What a treat to have everyone out for me.”Community members felt the same.“It’s feels like Christmas,” said Mabel Vent, daughter of Iditarod racer Bobby Vent, the runner-up to Dick Wilmarth in 1973, the first Iditarod. “It was like Santa was coming.”Read more 'Village with storied mushing past rolls out red carpet for the Iditarod'
Bill Roth

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Gary Mashburn is 64 years old and skis on a pair of artificial knees. And nobody can keep up with him.“My goal is to be the baddest, oldest skier on the hill,” Mashburn said earlier this week after hopping off Chair 6 at the top of Alyeska Resort. “I’m close now.”Mashburn has ample evidence to back up his claim. For the fourth straight season, he has skied more vertical feet – about three million so far – than anyone else at Alyeska according to the resort, which issued a press release recently lauding Mashburn’s ironman dedication to the sport."We are extremely excited to have these die-hard skiers here in Girdwood and at Alyeska Resort,” resort general manager Di Whitney said in a press release. “These guys are an inspiration to us all to get out and get after it as well as a reminder that good skiing conditions can be found.”Read more: 64-year-old Mashburn is Alyeska's ironman

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