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Episode 97: Iditarod 2017 – Ready, set, go!

By Rhonda McBride 6:36 PM March 5, 2017

Over the years, I’ve come to associate the increasing daylight with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. a time of the year that helps me forget how tired of winter I am.

One of the perennial questions every year: Will someone tie Rick Swenson for a record five wins?

Dallas Seavey seems poised to do that. He says he’s running the same team that carried him to victory over the last two years.

But…

There’s always that “but,” when it comes to the Iditarod.

There are so many variables in this race that can come into play – weather, trail conditions, injuries, strategic mistakes like short-changing your team on rest — and a list of unpredictable elements that can change the outcome of the race. Every musher has a hand to play, and the best odds go to the racer with the most experience at making the best of whatever cards are dealt.

This year, the race restart is in Fairbanks, which poses an entirely different set of variables for the 45th running of the Iditarod.

We hope this week’s show gives you an appreciation of some of the decisions that have to be made over the course of a thousand miles to Nome.

This week’s highlights:

  • Family rivalry: Dallas Seavey has many advantages, but some good, old-fashioned competition from his father, Mitch Seavey, who finished second last year, probably helps to keep him at the top of his game. KTVA photojournalist John Thain looks at how competitive these two are.
  • Determined as ever: Thain also profiles Jeff King, another contender to tie Rick Swenson’s five-win record. King was dealt some tough cards last year when Arnold Demoski, a drunken snowmachiner, deliberately plowed into his team and killed his lead dog, Nash.
  • Racing with a cause: Aliy Zirkle and her team were also terrorized by Demoski. She joins us on Frontiers to talk about how she’s channeled her anger into a new cause as a spokesperson for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA.)
  • Race analysis: I’m excited to have KTVA’s Sports Director Dave Goldman on the show. This is his fourth Iditarod and he’s learned a lot about how to read all of the signs on the trail that point to a musher’s success or potential setbacks. We’ll talk about some of the cards in the deck that could be pivotal in this year’s race. Sit back, relax and enjoy some armchair mushing with Goldman.

Not to blow our own horn, but KTVA is the official station of the 2017 Iditarod, and this show is just a taste of the fine race coverage you can expect when the restart airs on Monday, Mar. 6 at 10:30 a.m. on GCI Channel 907 and on iditarod.com.

Special thanks to Hobo Jim for use of his song, “I did, I did, I did Iditarod,” for our closing credits. This is Jim’s 45th year of writing and performing music in Alaska. Seems only fitting that we should kick off our coverage of the the 45th running of the Iditarod with his ballad that captures the spirit of the race.

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