"I’ve come to realize that it is now part of me. And it has changed me. Not necessarily for the better. But it has changed me," Zirkle said. "But I’m still an Iditarod musher. And I’m still ding-dang competitive."
In separate incidents at around 2 or 3 in the morning last March, Demoski, 27, hit Jeff King's team with his snowmobile, killing one dog and injuring others. Later he made repeated runs at Zirkle’s team, injuring three dogs and making her fear for her life.
Demoski had been drinking and claims to have no memory of the events. He has gone through rehabilitation and tearfully apologized as he entered a guilty plea in December. He was given six months of jail time and ordered to to pay restitution of more than $36,697.
Zirkle went on to finish third.
This year for the first time mushers will be allowed to carry cell and satellite phones. Many mushers have protested this change. One of the reasons the Iditarod was started was to preserve the dog sled culture in a time of snowmobiles and airplanes. Cell phones are not part of that world.