Norwegian musher wins Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Joar Ulsom of Norway won the world’s most famous sled dog race Wednesday after a grueling dash across Alaska’s rough terrain, but he earned tens of thousands of dollars less than last year’s top musher at the struggling Iditarod.

After nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres), Ulsom came off the Bering Sea ice just outside Nome and ran the last few blocks as a crowd cheered him on. The 31-year-old, who took the lead Monday when Nicolas Petit got off course in a blizzard, became the third person born outside the U.S. to claim the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Ulsom moved in 2011 from Norway to Willow, Alaska, the dog mushing capital of the U.S. He first entered the Iditarod in 2013, when he was named rookie of the year, and has never finished below seventh place. His previous best finishes were fourth-place rankings in both 2017 and 2014.

Ulsom picks up about $50,000, a drop from the 2017 winner’s earnings of more than $71,000.

The race, which began March 4, has been suffering financially and lost Wells Fargo bank as a major sponsor in the last year. Organizers have blamed animal rights activists for putting pressure on sponsors.

The Iditarod also was marked by fallout from its first-ever dog doping scandal. Race officials announced that the team of four-time champion Dallas Seavey tested positive for an opioid painkiller after his second-place finish last March but said they could not prove he gave tramadol to his dogs.

Officials didn’t punish Seavey but changed race rules to make mushers responsible for any positive drug test. Seavey, who won four titles between 2012 and 2016, denied giving drugs to his dogs and sat out this year’s race in protest.

The Iditarod also reprimanded but didn’t fire the head of its drug testing program on Monday after …read more

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