The Racing Siberian Husky Online

Spring 1998 Web Feature Edition

Published by Heritage North Press & WorkingDogWeb

Photo Story | Two Mushers Run Siberians | 1998 Iditarod Reports
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RSH Online No. 2

Another Look at the 1998 Iditarod

Shawn2.jpg (57526 bytes)

Anadyr Siberians from Earl and Natalie Norris's kennel in Willow, Alaska -- part of Shawn Sidelinger's 1998 Iditarod team -- wait for the ceremonial start in Anchorage.  Shawn and Brad Pozarnsky ran the two all-Siberian teams in this year's Last Great Race. [Click on each thumbnail photo for a large image of these Iditarod photographs.]


Sh-off-Anch.JPG (60773 bytes) Left, Shawn Sidelinger and the Norris Siberians start the trek to Nome, traveling along 4th Avenue in Anchorage.  Right, the race starting line banner waves in Anchorage, March 7, 1998. Banner-A.JPG (62763 bytes)


Shawn.jpg (61510 bytes) Shawn, left, talks to his leaders before the restart of the 1998 Iditarod near Willow,
Alaska.  At right, the starting line banner stands proudly at the restart location.
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Shawnrdy.jpg (64709 bytes) With his Siberians in booties, Shawn's at the sled for the restart... ready, set....  And go!  It's off to Nome!  This was Shawn's 2nd Iditarod.  He ran a fine race, placing 34th in a field of 63 teams.  Sh-off-Wi.JPG (64307 bytes)


G&m&dd.jpg (61824 bytes) Gayle and Chuck Cyra of the State of Washington took these great photographs and shared them with RSH.  Gayle is shown here with Marty Cashen at DeeDee Jonrow's dog truck.  See also Gayle's Iditarod Reports, below.  Thanks so much, Gayle and Chuck!

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Mushers:  Pozarnsky, Sidelinger

Two experienced mushers headed out of Anchorage March 7 in the world famous distance race, the Iditarod, driving racing strain Siberian Huskies. The 1,200-mile race is an extraordinary test for Siberian Huskies, the breed that earned a reputation for endurance in the All Alaska Sweepstakes races near Nome at the start of the 20th century.

As this is written March 21, Shawn Sidelinger and the Norris Anadyr Siberians had reached Nome, placing 34th of the 63 teams that started the race. He finished the race with seven dogs in his team and matched the 34th place finish he achieved in 1997.  [NOTE:  His total time was 12 days, 0 hours, 8 minutes, 4 seconds.  Click here for Shawn's personal data page at the official Iditarod web site.]

Brad Pozarnsky of North Dakota, running his Seppala strain Siberians, is in White Mountain, having arrived from Elim at 2:44 p.m. on March 21. After an 8-hour rest at White Mountain, it will be on to Safety and then Nome for Brad and several other mushers running together at the back of the pack. Brad is still running eight dogs.  [NOTE: Brad finished 51st, with the best time for any team earning the Red Lantern -- 14 days, 5 hours, 42 minutes, 4 seconds.  A total of 12 teams scratched.  Click here for Brad's own data page.]

A total of 12 teams scratched this year, most because they felt their dogs were not performing as well as they wanted to see. Jeff King won this year’s Iditarod in 9 days, 5 hours, 52 minutes and 26 seconds. For King, it was his third victory, the others coming in 1993 and 1996. The trail record is still held by 1995 winner Doug Swingley whose time was 9 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 19 seconds. King’s time this year puts him third on the list of record times.  [Click here for the Iditarod Trail Race home page and all the data.]

The Siberian Mushers

BRAD: Running the Iditarod is a long-time dream for Brad Pozarnsky, 45, who got into mushing after watching the Iditarod on television. He began racing in 1978 and has run the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon 11 times, the Montana Race to the Sky 8 times and the UP 200 in Michigan 6 times. He has raised all of his Siberian Huskies from pups over the 20 years he has been in mushing. Brad is a field manager for the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department. 1998 was his first Iditarod.

SHAWN: While teaching at a private boarding school in Lake Placid, New York, for two years, Shawn got his start in mushing. He reports that he ran his dogs on the Olympic ski trails at night to avoid the many skiers using the trails in the daytime. He has followed the Iditarod since a teenager. In 1994, Shawn, 30, apprenticed under long time Alaskan mushers, Earl and Natalie Norris. During his first year at the Norris' Howling Dog Farm, he helped Russian musher Nikolai Ettyne train for the 1995 Iditarod. That experience inspired him to run the Iditarod himself. He completed the 1997 race in 34th position. To read some of his training diary online, click here.

Sidelinger’s Siberians

Shawn trained two teams of Anadyr strain Siberians -- one with nine dogs and one with 10 dogs -- at the Norrises’ Howling Dog Farm near Willow, Alaska. 1998 was his second Iditarod. Of the 19 dogs Shawn was training, 10 were Iditarod veterans while others were to be rookies in the Great Race this year. Four of the dogs are younger than four years old; the oldest is 8-and-a-half.   Here are excerpts from Shawn’s recent comments on several of the veteran racers:

-- STORMY:  "8 year old male. Son of Earl's Iditarod leader Jody. Leader in every sense of the word..... one of the faster members of this year’s team."

-- BLIZZARD:  "8 year old male. Always been one of the fastest dogs in the lot and despite his age probably still is. He will lope more of the 1200 miles than not.  Practically Stormy's twin, but not closely related. Along with Stormy he is one of the main leaders."

-- TONI:  "8 year old female, veteran of 2 Iditarods and 1 Hope race. A natural trotter who can keep up with the lopers... a happy dog who loves to be heading down the trail."

-- ACE:  "71/2 year old male, veteran of 2 Iditarods and 1 Hope race. The big black dog in the team. Will probably weigh 70 pounds on race day. An absolute steady dog. Used in lead during races. Seems to hate to stop on the trail."

-- YAKUT:  "6 1/2 year old female, veteran of 2 Iditarods and 1 Hope race. A leader, but she and I prefer her in the team. Led the 97 team across the finish-line after only leading the last 30 miles of the race. Absolutely dependable. Expect her to be in Nome again, very possibly in lead again. A sweet dog who is serious about her work."

-- MAX:   "6 1/2 year old male. My hero of last year’s team. Single led the team into the wind over Topkok. Received all the leader training this year he could get after his brutal initiation to the position. A superb athlete with the body and the heart to get it done. The best hill climber on the team. Has become a full fledged leader for his second Iditarod."

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IDITAROD REPORTS: The Spectator’s View from the Start
By Gayle Cyra

Report No. 1
It's chilly out there this morning [March 7, 1998]. Downtown Anchorage is dressed in little white lights. They are on the trees, the buildings, and the lamp posts. It just sparkles. People were at work all night long, bringing snow back into the city and spreading it around. The snow fences are up. 4th Avenue and the side streets are ready for the crowds....

Yesterday we went by the Regal Alaskan Hotel, official Iditarod headquarters. The place was very busy....The communication room was busy and there is a big storyboard listing the order of start and all set up to track the mushers' progress. [Shawn] Sidelinger drew #9, [Brad] Pozarnsky will be leaving #45. The local sportswriter, Lou Freedman, has picked DeeDee Jonrow to win it this year. His predictions also include Jeff King, Vern Halter, Martin Buser and Doug Swingley in the top five finishers.

 We're planning to watch the start here in downtown Anchorage...[and we’ll] follow the teams out of town. The re-start tomorrow has been moved to Willow and we're planning to be there as well. It's 7:20 Alaska time and the first team has just arrived, they are singing! Gotta grab my jacket and get outside!

Report No. 2

And they're off!!!!!  What a day. From the arrival of the first teams to 4th Ave. it has been a real sensory overload. The adrenaline in the air from both the dogs and the mushers was contagious.

Hillbot.jpg (65159 bytes) 63 teams made the start. From David Lindquist and DeeDee Jonroe
in the first two positions to Joe Garnie, Gus Guenther, and John Baker
being the last three out of the gate, it was a thrilling morning. The dogs
were pumped up and ready to go, even if it was just a short run up to
Eagle River today.  With 19 rookies in the race this year, the starts all
went surprisingly well....

We had the pleasure of being accompanied this morning by Marty Cashen of Sibernet-L fame, who, I think, knows just about every Sibe in this state, not to mention the many people she knows. She introduced me to Jennifer Deye... and I took her photo, delightful person. She also "coached" me into a position to have my photo taken with Martin Buser!

If anything the weather was a little too warm, about 20F at the start and it warmed up as the morning progressed. Comfortable for us tourists, but I would imagine it was a little warm for the dogs....

The all-Sibe teams (my favorites) looked good at the start, although Brad Pozarnsky's team looked like it was going to get passed by Ted English before they were out of Anchorage..... Go Sibes..... And lastly, Charlie Boulding looked his usual, with gray beard blowing in the wind and a big smile on that crusty old face. That's it for now, tomorrow is the restart in Willow.

Report No. 3

Another early morning, another great adventure. We headed up to Willow thinking the restart was at 10:00 (it actually was at 11:00), and we'd been warned that traffic would be heavy....

It was 10 degrees and sunny in Willow when we arrived. The facilities and volunteers were really well organized. We weren't able to mingle with the dogs and drivers like we had in Anchorage, but this was a day that "counted". The start chute was setup on Willow Lake. The mayor of Nome came down to help with the announcing duties at the start line.

We found a place right at the start, just across from the press area. Now we waited. It was a long cold wait but worth it to be that close to the start....

When start time arrived, the handlers brought the dogs down and held them right in front of us. It was really interesting to watch the mushers getting ready for departure.

 DeeDee's team of handlers moved with precision. She stroked and spoke to each and every dog, she shook hands or hugged each and every handler, kissed her husband and made it back to her sled right on schedule. You could tell she'd done this many times before. Shawn Sidelinger's dogs looked really eager and ready to go.

Most of the teams were running 16 dogs. They left the start chute, headed down the lake, turned a gentle sweep to the right passing more fans and finally climbed a short hill onto the trail. Many pictures later, we headed off across the lake to watch the teams as they came up off the lake and headed into the woods.

Kudos to the race committee, one more time. A well run show and well worth the time and money to come up and see it.

Idithq.jpg (58251 bytes) On the way back to Anchorage, we stopped in Wasilla to visit the Iditarod
Headquarters. They were showing videos about the dogs. The two rooms
of the main log building are filled with historical artifacts and photos, the
showroom has all sorts of Iditarod paraphernalia.... They also have a replica
of the Rohn Roadhouse on the property....

In conclusion, if you ever get the chance to go watch the *real thing* [Iditarod start], do it. It is an unbelievable experience!

Sibernetter Gayle Cyra, a retired teacher who with her husband had Siberian Huskies for 20 years, gave RSH permission to excerpt from her e-mail reports from the start of the 1998 Iditarod, to share the feel and flavor of the big race. She is from Maple Valley, Washington, and can be reached at Thanks so much, Gayle.

Copyright, 1998, Heritage North Press, Copyright, 2013, R&BP

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