For 2nd Year in a Row, Iditarod Leader Hits Bad Luck

Frenchman Nicolas Petit had to drop out after his dogs just refused to keep going
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2019 9:45 AM CDT
For 2nd Year in a Row, Iditarod Leader Hits Bad Luck
Nicolas Petit arrives in Unalakleet, Alaska, in the lead of the Iditarod race on Sunday.   (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

You could be the best dog-musher in the world, but if your canine charges simply refuse to move, those mushing skills mean nothing. Frenchman Nicolas Petit found that out Monday when he had to withdraw from Alaska's famous Iditarod sled dog race after he and his team got stuck on Bering Sea ice about 200 miles from the Nome finish line, Reuters reports. His dogs simply wouldn't continue down the trail, and he "scratched in the best interest of his race team's mental well-being," a statement from race organizers notes. Per the AP, Petit was about five hours ahead of the rest of the Iditarod pack when a tiff between two of his dogs led to their eventual obstinacy. An older dog jumped on one of the younger ones, and "then they wouldn't go anymore" once they heard Petit yelling, he says, adding that it was just a "head thing" and that there was no physical reason for their stubbornness.

The dogs were taken out of the race by snowmobile. Although PETA says it's competitors like Petit in this "merciless race" who "need to have their heads examined," not the dogs, Libby Riddles, the first woman to ever win the Iditarod, calls Petit "the best in the business" and says "sometimes all it takes is ... one sour grape [on] the team" to ruin the path to victory. The AP notes this year's disappointment is reminiscent of what happened last year for Petit, who was also in the lead then when he got lost in a snowstorm. He ended up coming in second. Competitors are expected to start crossing the finish line on Wednesday. (Read more Iditarod stories.)

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