Penalty partially reversed for 2 Iditarod mushers who sheltered dogs inside during storm

A blond woman smiles in front of some trees
Mille Porsild at the 2022 Iditarod (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Iditarod Trail Committee has partially reversed its decision to penalize two mushers who sheltered their dog teams in a cabin in a severe windstorm during this year’s 1,000-mile sled dog race. 

The decision announced Thursday comes after the two mushers, Mille Porsild and Michelle Phillips, appealed their penalty. 

Porsild and Phillips were the top female finishers in this year’s race. On one of their final runs to the finish, between Koyuk and Elim, they hit a severe windstorm and said they had to move their dog teams inside a cabin to protect them. 

That’s against the Iditarod’s rules, and some competitors filed formal complaints, saying it may have given the mushers a competitive advantage. The Iditarod organization moved Porsild and Phillips back in the standings shortly after the race finished, which cost them hundreds of dollars in prize money. 

That decision was reversed in Thursday’s ruling, meaning that Porsild will be awarded about $3,500 more in prize money for finishing in 14th. Phillips will get an extra $1,000 dollars and finish in 17th. However, both mushers must pay a $1,000 fine. 

That’s equivalent to the fine a third musher, Riley Dyche, got for sheltering his dogs in a cabin on his final run to Nome.

The Iditarod Trail Committee wrote in a statement that “the Board respects the judgment call” made by Porsild and Phillips. It said no dogs should suffer harm or death during the race, and recommended a race committee review the rules that prohibit sheltering dogs indoors.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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