The Iditarod trail dog sled race, which professes to be “All About the Dogs,” quietly punished the two top female mushers for being all about the dogs.
One of those women, Mille Porschild from Willow via Denmark. The first female finisher of the year, Michelle Phillips of Tagish, Yukon, Canada, was second.
Porsild finished 14th overall and Phillips 17th. This is where Iditarod’s online standings are still listed.
However, an Iditarod spokesperson responded to a question from the website on Monday, revealing that the women were demoted to 17th and 18th respectively as punishment for breaking Iditarod’s rules. .
No explanation was given as to why Porsild dropped three places and lost nearly $3,500 in prize money, and why Phillips only dropped one place. A spokeswoman for Race said Marshall said he was trying to get an answer from Nordman, but Nordman declined to comment.
Porshild learned of her penalty while rushing from the finish of the race to Denmark to be with her dying mother, who has terminal cancer.
In fact, Porshild and Phillips definitely broke the Iditarod rule.
Near the end of this year’s race, the two mushers were caught in a ferocious coastal storm along the Bering Sea between the remote villages of Koyuk, 330, and Elim, 350, in a primitive shelter cabin. I hid myself. The US would call it a shack – on the Quick River.
When the wind howled and brought snow to the windswept barren land, they decided to bring the dog with them to the shelter. For race veterinarian check-ups or treatments. ”
This rule was written long ago for competitive fairness. Iditarod dogs, like all dogs, are able to thermoregulate their metabolism and adapt well to living in the cold outdoors, but dogs have some variations based on their fur and are more suitable for warmer than cold places. Rest and recover at
The Center for Animal Welfare Sciences at Purdue University concludes, “The lower critical (resting) temperature of a healthy adult Siberian Husky dog is less than 32 degrees Celsius, whereas it is 59 degrees Celsius for some short-haired dogs.” .
Below or above these optimum temperatures, the center says, “dogs need to expend energy to maintain body temperature.” body temperature or hyperthermia develops
Hypothermia is a dangerously low body temperature. Hyperthermia is a dangerously high body temperature. Considering that dogs only sweat from their feet and mouths, that’s why they pant violently when they’re hot. Heat is actually more of a physical issue than cold.
As a result of this latter fact, the fur of dogs bred to run the Iditarod has become thinner and thinner over the years since the first race in 1973. Therefore, you can run longer distances faster.
As Purdue University scientists point out, “thicker coats reduce heat loss through the skin,” so furry dogs “can tolerate heat at high temperatures that other dogs may tolerate.” It becomes easier to suffer from physical pain. Dogs with light or no hair have a lower ability to retain heat. ”
Decrease in cold storage capacity
This reduced ability to retain heat has led many mushers to carry dog coats. This is something I couldn’t have imagined at the time of my first race, putting my dog in extreme cold and wind. And most mushers are well aware of the cold-weather needs of light-coated dogs.
Porshild himself may be considered an expert on the subject. She came to Iditarod after years of adventures with her sled dogs in icy Greenland, where winter temperatures regularly drop to minus 50 degrees.
The heavily coated “Polar Husky” Furball she lived and worked with looks distinctly different from the lightly coated Iditarod Husky she now lives and races.
Porshild and his two dogs win the Iditarod Rookie of the Year in the first race of 2020/Iditaord.com
One of the Polar Huskies featured in the field notes of the Polar Field Service newsletter over ten years ago.
husky and hound
As researchers at Purdue University have pointed out, it’s clear that different dogs require different care.
Here it might be amusing to debate whether Iditarod should do a better job of enforcing Rule 43, which stipulates that “only dogs fit for arctic travel are permitted to race”. not. However, the rule was created only to keep Chugiak’s musher John His Suter’s promotional poodle out of racing in the 1990s, and since Suter and his poodle abandoned the trail. , has been ignored.
The Iditarod dog was then bred to create what a purebred dog website called “a new ‘Eurohound’, a cross between an Alaskan Husky and a German Shorthaired Pointer.” These dogs were the first to successfully enter the competitive world of Scandinavian dog sled racing. Combining the sled prowess of a husky with the enthusiasm and athleticism of a pointer dog, he is one of the most formidable racing dogs in the world today. “
The downside is that they are not as well adapted to the cold as the Siberian Husky.
Given the nature of the fur on the dogs Porsild and Phillips were running, the two mushers decided what was best for the dogs.
Two Rivers’ Matt Hall, Willow’s Lev Schwartz, former champion Sterling’s Mitch Seavey and Willow’s Joel Leifses-Ulsom via Norway and then Porsild and Phillips protesting breaking the rules.
Hall and Seavey finished behind Porshild. Schwartz finished behind Phillips. After they complained, race officials moved Hall and Seavey ahead of Porshild and Schwartz ahead of Phillips.
Ultham’s position, which could be said to be a heavy burden with Porsild, did not change. Ulsom and Porsild were partners in 2018 when he won the race and Ulsom finished runner-up the following year.
The couple has since split. The split was not amicable by all reports. Ulsom married a young woman shortly thereafter, and Porsild formed his Iditarod race his team of his own.
She won the Rookie of the Year award in her first race of 2020 with a 15th place finish. Ultham was sixth. The following year, Porsild entered the top 10 with her 5th place and Ulsom dropped to her 8th place.
Porshild was still in contention for a top 10 finish this year, nearly eight hours ahead of Ulsom when he exited the Koyuk checkpoint, but she and Phillips, who left Koyuk just behind Porshild, were on the verge of closing in. I hit the tooth of the storm.
It was so bad that 61-year-old Seavey, a three-time champion and veteran of nearly 30 Iditarods, was pushed out of Koyuk just 11 minutes behind Phillips and decided to turn around and retreat to the checkpoint.
Pushing all the way to Kwik into the storm definitely cost Porsild and Phillips in the end. In Koyuk he was 12th and he was 13th, and in Nome he was 14th and he was 17th, but the decision to bring the dog to the shelter dropped him further down the order.
When she and Phillips were finally about to exit the Kwick River Cabin, Ultham managed to pass Porshild.
Some veteran Iditarod Masher, who requested anonymity for fear of future problems with race officials, said he did not see a significant competitive advantage in what Porshild and Phillips had done.
Mushers traditionally run 50 miles from Koyuk to Elim in one push. Instead, the two women spent hours camping, wasting time unhooking the team, taking the dog to a shelter, and then hooking the team back up to hit the trails again.
Those primarily interested in racing, they observed, continued to march through the storm like any other Iditarod racer. Eureka winner Brent Sass told Alaska Public Media that he and his team managed to move forward after the wind blew him “into the abyss” across the Blueberry Hills north of Unalakurete. I boasted that I did.
“In general, anyone who cares about dogs and their racial image will appreciate these experienced women taking sensible dog care,” said one dog sled dog. “A dab on the wrist or paying for the cabin cleaning would be appropriate.”
Seavey, Hall, and Ulsom did not respond when asked for their views on the degree of punishment justified. Schwartz’s answer was “later.” It came a day ago. He declined to comment further.
Porshild and Phillips’ actions came shortly before Iditarod and Race volunteers were busy rescuing other mushers from a storm that had landed on the state’s northwest coast.
After the rescue of Gerhard Tiart from Cheboygan, Michigan, and Bridget Watkins from Nome, the Iditarod announced that the efforts of the Good Samaritan and the “Search and Rescue of the White Mountains, and the Iditarod Trail Watching the Trail A media release has been issued, along with support from the snow machine crew saying, “After the race, (and) we are in the process of taking both sled dog teams to the White Mountains. evaluated by veterinarians.
The media release was much the same after the rescue of mushers Cuttie Joe and Jeff Dieter from Fairbanks with Sebastian dos Santos Borges from Chazeibon, France.
“All three teams received their snow machines due to the rainstorm and high winds.
They remained there until Iditarod volunteers were able to assist in transporting Musher and his team to Nome with White Mountain search and rescue assistance to the Nome Kennel Club’s shelter cabin. rice field.
“While in the shelter, Musher has been in direct contact with the race marshals and the race team is reported to be in good health. Upon arrival in Nome, the race team will undergo a full veterinary check.”
Meanwhile, Masher, who personally took extreme measures to care for the team and make sure no rescue was needed, was quietly punished without saying a word about his efforts to keep the team healthy. .
A veteran of a dozen Iditarods, Phillips wrote on his Facebook page that he’s had enough and this will be the last Iditarod.
Only time will tell if she sticks to the position. Many of his Iditarod mushers (including Rick his Swenson, a five-time winner and now retired) had Tom his Brady moment right after the race, announcing his short-lived retirement .
However, she clearly has strong views on the importance of caring for dogs.
Fix: The original version of this story incorrectly listed Millie Polsid’s final standings for 2021.
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