Tesoro Iron Dog snowmobile racer Todd Palin -- husband of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- was taken to a clinic in Galena for examination today after a major crash during the 2,000-mile race.
Galena race checker Ray Debenham, a former racer, said Palin and teammate Scott Davis from Soldotna were on the outskirts of the onetime Air Force outpost along the Yukon River, racing at high speed toward a fuel stop, when Palin's machine hit a barrel hidden beneath fresh snow.
The impact stopped the snowmachine and sent the 43-year-old Palin flying.
"He flew about 70 feet off the machine, they said. He's going to have some bruises,'' Debenham reported by telephone from Galena.
After the crash, Davis stopped his snowmachine, went back to get Palin, loaded him up and took him straight to the clinic. Palin's snowmachine, which was left with one bent ski perpendicular to the other, was temporarily abandoned. Davis, 48, later borrowed a sled in Galena and went back and retrieved it while Palin was being checked out at the clinic.
Palin was not available for comment but was apparently given a clean bill of health by the Galena health aide.
"He's fine,'' Debenham said. "I just saw him. They were walking around. They're talking now about what they need to do to fix their machines.''
Palin and Davis are the defending Iron Dog champions. They were running second to race leaders Todd Minnick, 28, and Nick Olstad, 25, from Wasilla when the accident happened.
Palin was likely protected from serious injury by Iron Dog rules that require competitors to wear not only helmets but body armor as well.
The Iron Dog -- a race along the Iditarod Trail from Big Lake to Nome and then back to Fairbanks -- started Sunday. It will end Saturday in Fairbanks.
By CRAIG MEDRED
Anchorage Daily News