Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Jeff King is this year’s first musher out of Cripple, although he didn’t get the prize for being first into the midway checkpoint of The Last Great Race.
As of 11:50 p.m. Wednesday, Iditarod XLII standings show King on the trail out of Cripple at 8:30 p.m., with Sonny Lindner on his tail at 9:09 p.m. Three other mushers including Aaron Burmeister, who received $3,000 in gold nuggets for being first into the checkpoint at 3:26 p.m., were still there.
Lev Shvarts is off the trail, becoming Wednesday's second scratch after Ellen Halverson's early in the morning, but his friends still had reason to celebrate. Race officials confirm that a musher seen by a Channel 2 photographer waving for help Wednesday afternoon was Shvarts, whose friends were concerned for him after his race standings and GPS tracking data weren’t updated for about 24 hours after he left Rohn.
The pilot of the aircraft relayed Shvarts’ location to Iditarod officials, who reported just before midnight that he had scratched with 15 dogs.
"Shvarts was traveling between Rohn and Nikolai when he damaged his sled," officials wrote in a statement. "Shvarts and his dogs are fine and will be flown to McGrath in the morning, with the Iditarod Air Force."
Crashes in the Dalzell Gorge and subsequent concerns about trail conditions Monday and Tuesday caused a series of scratches and one withdrawal, which left 12 of the race’s 69 mushers off the trail. “Mushin’ Mortician” Scott Janssen, who scratched between Rohn and Nikolai after breaking his foot Tuesday, was medevaced to Anchorage after his decision to scratch.