Three mushers in Alaska sled race rescued by helicopter just short of
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[March 21, 2020]
By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Three
contestants mushing through the final stretch of Alaska's famed Iditarod
sled dog course two days after the winner crossed the finish line were
rescued by helicopter on Friday from trail flooding caused by
unseasonably warm weather, authorities said.
The mushers were near the final checkpoint, just 22 miles from the
finish line in Nome, when they ran into deep water and extremely high
winds, according to representatives of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The three activated their emergency beacons and were plucked from the
submerged trail by an Alaska National Guard helicopter team, with help
from state troopers and other search-and-rescue personnel, officials
said. The dogs, all accounted for, were collected at the site and
transported separately to Nome, where they were checked by
veterinarians, a race spokeswoman said.
The rescued mushers flown to Nome – Sean Underwood, Tom Knolmayer and
Matthew Failor – were evaluated at a hospital and released, race
A series of storms brought howling southern winds and above-freezing
temperatures to the Nome region, creating treacherous conditions near
the end of the Iditarod trail.
Norwegian contestant Thomas Waerner won the Iditarod early Wednesday
morning, mushing into Nome for a first-place showing witnessed by a much
smaller crowd than typically throngs the finish line. City officials had
canceled all Iditarod-related festivities and asked out-of-town fans to
stay away as a public health precaution against transmission of the
[to top of second column]
Three mushers from the Iditarod dog sled race are rescued by an
aircrew of an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
about 25 miles east of Nome, Alaska March 20, 2020. Norwegian musher
Thomas Waerner won the race on March 18. Alaska National
Guard/Handout via REUTERS.
Even Waerner’s wife watched the finish from afar. She had flown back
to Norway to avoid being stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions.
Ten mushers were still on the trail on their way to Nome late on
Friday. The race committee said it was working to repair the trail
in the flooded section of the course.
Fifty-seven mushers and their teams started the 48th edition of the
race in Anchorage on March 7. Twenty-three, including the three who
were rescued on Friday, have dropped out of the race so far.
(Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage; Editing by Steve Gorman and
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