A year after snowmobile attack, musher Aliy Zirkle to return to Iditarod

Aliy Zirkle, one of dog mushing’s leading figures, has suffered panic attacks in the year since she and musher Jeff King were attacked by a drunken snowmobile driver on an isolated stretch of the Iditarod race across Alaska. Both Zirkle and King are slated for the 2017 race.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — One of dog mushing’s leading figures has suffered panic attacks and undergone therapy in the year since she was stalked by a drunken snowmobile driver on an isolated stretch of the Iditarod race across Alaska.

“I had a really hard time this first half of the season, a really hard time,” musher Aliy Zirkle told The Associated Press on Friday.

Zirkle, who has five straight top-five finishes in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, plans to run in this year’s race, which starts March 6.

“I feel like I should tell people, ‘Yeah, I’m going back out there,’ but I wish I could say I was fine. But there will be some struggles out there,” she said.

Arnold Demoski was given a six-month sentence for driving a snowmobile at four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King and Zirkle in separate attacks on March 12 near the village checkpoint in Nulato, Alaska. One of King’s dogs, Nash, was killed, and other dogs were injured.

Demoski pleaded guilty to felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor charges of assault, reckless endangerment and driving under the influence.

“Over the course of almost two hours, one man, by using his snowmachine, made prolonged, aggressive and what I believe to be deliberate threats to me and my team,” Zirkle said in a statement just days after the attack last year. Snowmachines are what Alaskans call snowmobiles.

“I was terrified. Had it not been for my defensive reactions, we could have been maimed or killed,” she said in the statement.

The fear carried over well after the race ended, Zirkle told the AP, and she didn’t realize it would have such an effect on her. “It’s one of those weird…

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