King of Ingenuity
Jeff King is among a small group of dog mushers that have won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at least four times. King has also distinguished himself by winning mushing events of all lengths more frequently than anyone.
A resident of Denali Park, Alaska, King won the Iditarod in 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2006. King was also king of the Yukon Quest, the world’s other prominent 1,000-mile race, in 1989.
King, born and raised in California, has also captured the Kuskokwim 300 in Bethel nine times. In displaying his all-around mushing prowess, King ventured to Wyoming and triumphed in the 1999 International Rocky Mountain Stage Stop Sled Dog Race.
King is also respected as a mushing innovator. Until King introduced a seat hitched onto the rear of his sled, all mushers stood on the sled runners for the duration of races. Later King invented a heated handlebar to warm his hands and pioneered transporting dogs in a special trailer.
The constantly tinkering King introduced a training wheel in his kennel yard that allowed hooked-in dogs to get full workouts without traveling long distances. King was also the first prominent musher to have tourists visit by the busload during summer. King’s example has been followed by many mushers as a method to connect with the public and produce income in the non-racing season.
King, who has finished among the Top 10 in the Iditarod 20 times, continues to compete at a high level into his 60s.
– Lew Freedman