A couple of champions from the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and a legend from the Native Games world are headed to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.
Dog mushing moguls Martin Buser and Jeff King will join World Eskimo Indian Olympics icon Nicole Johnston as individuals to be inducted with the Class of 2017.
Other inductions included the moment mountaineering legend Vern Tejas became the first solo climber to complete a winter ascent of the 20,310-foot Denali in 1988 and in the event category the longtime Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog Race.
“We’re excited about the Class of 2017,” said Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson. “The inductees represent classically Alaskan sports. It’s a group of household names in our state that have been in the discussion for induction for many years.”
This is the 11th class inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. The date for the 2017 induction ceremony is to be announced.
Buser is a four-time winner of the 1,000-mile Iditarod and currently holds the race record for most consecutive finishes with 31. He has registered 19 top-10 finishes, including 14 straight from 1987-2000.
In 2002, his team ran a record time of 8 days and 22 hours – a mark that stood for nine years.
The Big Lake musher was been awarded the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award for humanitarian dog care an unprecedented five times in 1988, 1993, 1995 and 1997 and 2014.
King is another four-time winner of the Last Great Race, but his winning pedigree extends beyond the Iditarod.
The Denali Park musher has possibly collected more race titles than any other distance and mid-distance musher in the world.
In addition to his success in marathons like the Iditarod, Yukon Quest and the International Rocky Mountain Stage Stop, King has lived up to his name by winning the Kuskokwim 300 nine times, the Tustumena 200 three times and Copper Bain 300 twice.
Johnston collected more than 100 career medals in major Native Games competition like WEIO, the Native Youth Olympics and Arctic Winter Games.
She learned the games in Nome and emerged as her generation’s greatest champion. Later she became an ambassador of the sport, traveling the state to teach skills to the next generation.
Her versatility is as renowned as her durability. She won technical events like the kneel jump, strength events like the arm pull and athletic events like the high kick.
Johnston’s two-foot high kick record of 6 feet, 6 inches set in 1989 stood for 25 years.
Tejas became a household name in Alaska in 1988 when he became the first climber to complete a solo winter ascent of Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley – the tallest peak in North America.
The three-day Fur Rondy sprint race dates back to 1946 and has been voted “Best Event” by the International Sled Dog Racing Association. The event attracts many of the world’s best sprint mushers, who guide their teams past cheering crowds that line city streets and trails.