The Iron Dog is one of the toughest sports in the world. Merely completing it is a major accomplishment. This year, 30 teams of two competed. Only 12 teams made it to the finish line, meaning nearly two thirds were scratched. The snowmachiners race at speeds reaching or exceeding 80 mph in temperatures that drop to -70 Fahrenheit, often in white-out blizzard conditions.
Major injuries are a common occurrence, and Todd has broken at least one of his arms in a prior race. Last year, Palin's partner Scott Davis sustained an injury resulting in them being being scratched. But, Todd Palin is a four-time champion and has the experience of 21 races. Most of the mainstream press misreported the number of championship wins as being three.
Field-Repaired Snow Machine - Photo Courtesy of: Austin Johnson, Iron Dog on Facebook
Todd Palin and Eric Quam had been in first place and about 30 miles from the finish line, when Todd hit some object with the left ski of his snow machine, which subsequently departed the vehicle. Todd jury-rigged the ski back to the machine with bungee cords. The picture shows the damage sustained to the shocks and suspension. Notice too how the ski is not flat on the ground, but cocked at an angle. Even with this setback, and now in the position of "test pilot," Todd came in second by only 6:51. To insinuate that he is somehow a "loser" is the nadir of journalistic absurdity.
Providentially, Todd may have predicted this as Gov. Palin describes in Going Rogue, p. 187:
"I really want to run the Iron Dog," I cockily told Todd one night as he settled down for a few hours' rest between 120-mph training rides by himself in the middle of the night.Gov. Palin went on to describe 100-mph night runs as Iron Doggers avoid chunks of ice and wildlife. The Palins have lost friends who died in avalanches breaking trails for the racers.
"Can you wrench your own machine"? he asked.
"Can you get the back end of a six-hundred-pound machine unstuck by yourself with open water up to your thighs, then change out an engine at forty below in the pitch black on a frozen river and replace thrashed shocks and jury-rig a suspension using tree limbs along the trail?"
Celebration Photo Courtesy of: Tim Akimoff/KTUU.com. Sarah Palin and other friends and family members of Todd Palin and Eric Quam cheer as the racers cross the finish line in the 2011 Iron Dog snowmachine race.
Checkered Flag Photo Courtesy of: Tim Akimoff/KTUU.com. Piper Palin prepares to wave the checkered flag for her dad, Todd Palin, who finished second in the Iron Dog snowmachine race with teammate Eric Quam.
H/T Tracey Porreca for story lead