Legendary Galena musher dies

Posted: Monday, October 16, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Mushing legend Carl Huntington, who won the 1974 Iditarod, died Friday in an apparent suicide, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Huntington is best known for winning both the Open World Championship, also known as the Fur Rendezvous sled dog race, and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

It's an unusual feat because the Open World Championship is a sprint race and the Iditarod is a distance race.

''It's never been done before and after,'' said musher George Attla of North Pole. ''People believe the distance dogs are really good for distance; the sprint dogs good for sprint. He proved it wasn't so.''

Huntington, 52, from Galena, had been estranged from his family for possibly two weeks, said Trooper Darrel Christensen, investigator in the case. He had recently been brought up on charges of sexual abuse of a minor, the trooper said.

There was a note Huntington wrote to his family.

''It didn't say anything about him committing suicide. It just said he had to go,'' Christensen said.

Huntington died at the home of Maureena Isberg, 64. Troopers were called there about 5 a.m. Friday after Isberg woke up and saw that Huntington was not asleep on the couch, where she had last seen him about midnight Thursday, Christensen said.

Troopers think Huntington hanged himself about 4 a.m. Huntington's body has been released to the family by the medical examiner.

Attla said Huntington was fiercely competitive.

''I competed with him in a lot of races. He was one of the very best. He was always there to win,'' Attla said.

Musher Libby Riddles called Huntington's death a great loss to the mushing world and to Galena, where she said he was a key figure.

''There's nobody that has quite the record he has,'' said Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod. ''That certainly puts him in the history books.''

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