21 March 2015

Post-Iditarod: Tales From Nome & the Trail

There are still lots of stories coming out of Nome, this weekend:

Post-Iditarod arm-wrestling match leaves fan with broken bone and musher Zirkle mortified
NOME -- There was a sickening pop, followed by an eerie silence as the crowd inside Breakers Bar realized what they’d witnessed: Aliy Zirkle had just broken some woman's arm.

Grace Liu learned a painful lesson about tangling with mushers Wednesday night in Nome when Zirkle, a 45-year-old sled dog racing superstar from Two Rivers, snapped the California lawyer’s arm like a piece of driftwood during an arm-wrestling match just hours after the 15-time Iditarod finisher guided her team to a fifth-place finish in the 2015 Iditarod.

“Everyone gasped,” said Liu, a 36-year-old patent lawyer from Fresno. “And you know it takes a lot to quiet a bar in Nome.”

Zirkle said it was her first arm-wrestling contest. And likely her last.

“God, I feel bad,” she said Friday.

2nd dog on Lance Mackey's team dies on Iditarod Trail
Another dog on four-time Iditarod champ Lance Mackey's team died while racing Friday, his second dog to die suddenly in just over a week.

The second death occurred while Mackey and his team made the 46-mile run from Elim to White Mountain. Around 5:15 p.m., his 3-year-old dog named Stiffy died of unknown causes, according to Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officials.

On March 12, Mackey lost his first dog. Three-year-old Wyatt died on the 120-mile route between Tanana and Ruby. Mackey described Wyatt as the “next leader to become famous” on his kennel’s website.

A necropsy on Wyatt found no abnormalities that could explain the death, according to a news release from Dr. Stuart Nelson, the Iditarod’s head veterinarian. Further testing would be conducted, Nelson said.

Iditarod officials said a necropsy is also planned to determine the cause of Stiffy’s death.
Before the deaths of Wyatt and Stiffy, a dog hadn't died while racing in the Iditarod since 2009.

You can rest assured that the State, the race veterinarians, PETA, the Humane Society, and the ASPCA will be all over this one.

Mackey's reputation is as a dog-handler and trainer par excellence, with nary a hint of mistreatment in his past. Let's wait and see what the vets determine before rushing to judgement, shall we?

And now, for all who are weary of bad news, wash your ears out with this:

Love at 34,000 feet: Pilot proposes to Alaska Air flight attendant midflight

Alaska Airlines flight attendant Brandy Hollenbeck, left, accepted a surprise marriage proposal broadcast from the cockpit by pilot Eric Greener during a flight from Seattle to Juneau Wednesday, March 18, 2015. They posed Friday, March 20, 2015, at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Greener was not piloting the plane. Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News

A midflight marriage proposal Wednesday left an Alaska Airlines flight attendant so speechless she almost forgot to say yes.

Eric Greener, 30, proposed to Brandy Hollenbeck, 34, on a morning flight from Seattle to Juneau, surprising Hollenbeck and delighting passengers and the rest of the crew.


Old NFO said...

Sad to hear about the loss of the dogs. And good for the new couple!

Ed Bonderenka said...

The couple!
finally something I can relate to. :)

Rev. Paul said...

NFO - agreed!

Ed - I guess the mushing & sled dog races don't do a lot for everyone. :)

joated said...

I don't know who to feel more sorry for, Aliy, lawyer Liu, or Lance. They all have to be feeling terrible.

As for the happy couple: Way to go! And congratulations.

Murphy's Law said...

I was loving the Aliy Zirkle tale...even though there was absolutely no mud or jello involved in the wrestling match.

Rev. Paul said...

joated, I suspect Lance feels worst of all, but that's only a matter of degree. The lawyer seems to be rather nonchalant about it. Go figure.

ML, why doesn't that surprise me? :)

Sandy said...

Rev. Paul,

2 dogs, one owner.....I'm sure a cause of death on both dogs will be determined shortly. Hopefully, the owner won't be the cause of death.

Makes you wonder if the attorney arm wrestling has a medical problem or if Aliy Zirkle is that strong.

Hey, congratulations to the flight attendants. Great proposal!

Rev. Paul said...


I'm sure we'll know soon, re: the dogs.

I suspect that Aliy is that strong, given her year-round vocation of wrestling 16 dogs and a 500-lb sled along a trail.