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Alaska Dispatch News
Wide-eyed children wended between tables mounded with cookies and gingerbread houses, and asked parents just how many cookies it was acceptable to pile on a plate, while the adults shook hands with new Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov Byron Mallott and their families at the governor's mansion Tuesday, Dec. 9.While Juneau was enjoying a traditional wet holiday afternoon, residents appeared to not notice the rain as they lined up to do something they've done 100 times now -- visit the annual open house at the governor's residence in Alaska's capital city.Read more: State business takes back seat as Walker hosts open house in Juneau
Alaska Dispatch News

Most insane ski line EVER

The camera-wielding owners and athletes behind Crested Butte’s Matchstick Productions had been eyeing a line in Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountains for years.Last winter, snow conditions were perfect in the mountain range 75 miles northwest of Anchorage that includes volcanic Mount Spurr and 11,413-foot Mount Torbert, and the crew put the line on the to-do list. Professional skier Cody Townsend stepped up and dropped into the ridiculously narrow chasm, plummeting more than 2,000 vertical feet through a cliff-lined choke that seems too tight. The 31-year-old skier’s segment in MSP’s “Days of My Youth” is storming the Internet, with more than a million views and Townsend’s debut on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Stories appeared nationwide, including this one in The Denver Post. -- The Denver PostRead more: 'Most insane ski line ever' pierces vertical chasm in Alaska's Tordrillo Mountains
Loren Holmes

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With a few quick toots from the horn, this year's Alaska Railroad holiday train took off from the Anchorage depot on Saturday morning with scores of excited children and their parents in tow.As the train slowly made its way through town, a group of carolers started at one end of the eight-car train, while a troupe of balloon artists made their way from the other end.Adding to the excitement was Santa Claus himself, who visited each and every child during the 2.5-hour trip down Turnagain Arm.The holiday train is one of the Alaska Railroad’s many special event trains, which include a Halloween train, Easter train, and the ski train, among others, and it has been running each year for over a decade. This year approximately 1,700 people enjoyed the holiday train.Watch this video on YouTube and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos.Photos: Alaska Railroad's 2014 holiday train
Tara Young

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The Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Ball started in 1980 at the Fairview Inn as a way to pass the time during the long, cold winter -- and bring women to town. The event grew to become a charity fundraiser and the Talkeetna Bachelor Society has become a service organization. Women come from many communities to bid on their very own rural Alaska bachelor.“We’re off the grid here, an end-of-the-road type town. The ratio of men to women, not so good,” says Evan Terstegge a 27-year-old Talkeetna bachelor. “This bachelor auction brings some fresh blood to Talkeetna. Brings some women up from Anchorage, Wasilla, from all over the state of Alaska.” A number of women travel up from the Lower 48 as well. “The bachelor auction is world-known,” says Terstegge.Last year's event was a record breaker, raising over $22,000 for charity. And this year was close behind, with 40 bachelors raising $20,420. The money gets divided between the Jessica Stevens Community Foundation and a grant program set up by the bachelor society to help people and organizations within the community.Terstegge, a lifelong Talkeetna resident, says the bachelor auction "was something I dreamed about doing since I was a kid growing up here -- I couldn't wait to turn 21. I always tell people I have to be married or dead to not attend. The Talkeetna bachelor party is by far the best party you'll ever go to."Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Loren Holmes

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When Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Hubbard found out she was coming home early after an eight-month deployment to Korea, she wanted to find a way to surprise her three boys: Kaylem, 3, Gage, 7 and Ethan, 9. So she put in a call to the big man himself, Santa Claus.With a little help from the Anchorage Firefighters Union, which she contacted from Korea via Facebook, she made it happen Tuesday afternoon.With mom hiding in a big red sack, Santa pulled up to Fire Lake Elementary in Eagle River atop a fire engine adorned with a giant sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer.When Santa asked Ms. Hubbard’s children what they wanted for Christmas, they all said they wanted their mom. He then told them to open the big red sack, and their eyes lit up at the sight of their wish come true.Watch this video on YouTube or Vimeo, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos.
Mike Campbell

Angel Collinson's Full Segment from TGR's Almost Ablaze

For the first time in two decades of adventure filmmaking, the lead segment of Teton Gravity Research’s annual film features a woman. Angel Collinson was nominated for Best Female Performance at this year’s Powder Awards and was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Film Festival for her skiing in “Almost Ablaze,” which included some of Alaska’s most-challenging peaks in the Chugach and Southeast Alaska. Collinson, a 24-year-old skier who grew up in Snowbird, Utah, delivers a performance that suggests she’s now one of the top big-mountain female skiers in the world.On its website, Teton Gravity Reseach offered a viewers guide to some phrases heard in “Almost Ablaze.”Read more: Skiing phenom skis some sick Alaska verticals in Teton Gravity film
Bob Hallinen

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Air bubbles flowing under ice can be mesmerizing.When a thin layer of clear ice forms with a little bit of flowing water underneath, trapped air also flows along. The bubbles form and gather together at obstacles in their path, form bigger bubbles, break up again change shape as they flow under the ice.The best time to witness this phenomenon is in the fall or spring, as it is best observed over a few inches of gently flowing water. In midwinter, the shallow water is completely frozen and covered with snow.See more: Ice bubbles at Potter MarshWatch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Bob Hallinen at bhallinen(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Loren Holmes

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Two hours after he took office, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker added to his cabinet Monday by appointing two commissioners and a deputy commissioner in three key departments.Read more: On first day in office, Walker names more cabinet membersWatch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Loren Holmes at loren(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Megan Edge

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With a full rack and only three good legs, a bull moose hobbled through light snowfall Monday in the area of Trena Street in Anchorage to munch on dead shrubbery.Last week, KTVA reported the moose had gotten tangled in wire and injured its hind right leg, and neighbors had to help untangle the moose.Neighborhood resident Randall Moyer said he was finally able to pull the wire off the bull's rack Sunday."I just took a long paint pole, an extended one with a hook on the end, and grabbed it," Moyer said. "It kind of fell off, but when he got up against the house I reached out of a window and grabbed the rest of it. He just kept walking on it."Moyer added that the moose has been in the neighborhood for about two years and is known for snatching fall pumpkins.Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Dave Battle said that when moose are reported injured, the agency routinely checks on the animal to see if it's making progress. In general, he said, moose are resilient and capable of making a recovery.Battle also said it is important that people refrain from feeding the injured moose, as that could ensure that Fish and Game would have to euthanize it."A moose might not be aggressive if you're giving it a carrot, but it would then rely on that and expect it, even after it recovers, at which point it could become aggressive," Battle said. "They will chase people down the road for not having a carrot. It's happened a number of times in Anchorage and we would have to kill the moose to protect public safety."Feeding a wild animal is also a misdemeanor.Battle was unable to provide any additional information on the specific moose in the neighborhood near Lake Otis Parkway and Tudor Road, as he said he was not the responding biologist, who was unreachable Monday.Moyer said he hasn't seen anyone feed the moose, but is worried that drivers traveling too fast down the road could hit it.Watch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Megan Edge at megan(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Alaska Dispatch News
When 22-year-old Hailey Driver moved to Girdwood four years ago, she brought her snowboard, intending to sharpen her skills on frozen water. But this summer she discovered surfing on the Turnagain Arm bore tide, and her enthusiasm for riding liquid water has never waned.“At the beginning of last summer, I fell in love with paddleboarding on flat water -- something about there being no boat walls and you can look straight into the water. I brought my first paddleboard ... but flat water was getting a little boring.” Before long, “I spent pretty much all my money on getting the right gear, because the board I started out on was not meant to be a surfboard and I don’t own any neoprene,” Driver said. That wasn’t cheap. In addition to a top-of-the-line 10-foot-6-inch board, she needed a board bag, paddle, wetsuit, and a rack for her car. “I wanted it all,” she said.Come winter, the wetsuit didn’t feel quite warm or thick enough, so she got a thicker suit “because I knew I wasn’t about to stop surfing. I’m going to keep going until there is too much ice in the Arm.”Driver’s board comes from Hypr Nalu Surf and Stand Up Paddle Boards in Hawaii, and she was so happy with the company’s service that she made two videos for them. “I never thought it would blow up,” she said.Hailey's videos have been featured by numerous news outlets including CNN and Fox News online.  Her pastime has become her passion.  Since Driver caught her first wave, “I’ve been back nearly every tide since.” When Driver isn't surfing, she manages to stay near the water by working at The Hotel Alyeska's pool.Driver is one of many daring locals taking on the bore tide, be it by kayak or surfboard.
Alaska Dispatch News

Scientists Solve Mystery Of West Coast Starfish Die-Off

New evidence suggests that the wasting disease that has killed off millions of starfish from California to Alaska has been caused by a virus found in sea stars since the 1940s. It's unclear if the illness is part of a natural cycle or if other causes are to blame, but the disease is still spreading.Read more: Amid symptoms of starfish die-off, researchers look for a cause
Megan Edge

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Three orphaned Galena black bears cubs spent their last day at Alaska Zoo freely frolicking around the bear cub exhibit in the public eye -- a place the triplets had previously been forbidden to go as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game determined their fate.Thursday, Fish and Game spokesperson Ken Marsh confirmed the triplets would be heading to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., Thursday night.A relieved Marsh skipped a "hello" in a phone call about the bears, instead going straight to the news: The first words out of his mouth were simply, "Those lucky little guys finally have a home."During an interview with Marsh at the beginning of November, he said it was still possible that the bears could be euthanized if the plans with the Outside facility fell through.The plans were not finalized until Thursday morning.Watch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos.

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