ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Mitch Seavey, the 2004 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion, was withdrawn Thursday from this year's race because of a severe hand injury.
Race marshal Mark Nordman decided not to allow Seavey to continue because of the injury to one or more fingers. Seavey injured his hand while cutting open a bale of straw. The mishap occurred at the Ophir checkpoint, 444 miles from Anchorage.
Seavey was flown to the checkpoint in McGrath, said race spokesman Chas St. George.
From there, the plan was to fly him to Anchorage where he was to be seen by a doctor.
"The race marshal told him, 'I am going to withdraw you.' He has accepted that," St. George said. "It was a terrible way for him to have to leave this race."
The 51-year-old musher said at the start of the race that it was important he get another Iditarod win. He said his team was highly conditioned, with twice as many pre-race training miles than his winning 2004 team. His dogs were capable of reaching Nome ahead of defending champion Lance Mackey - with four consecutive wins under his belt - or any of the other previous champions in the race, Seavey said.
"I have a dog team that I think can do anything I ask them to do," he told The Associated Press on Saturday at the ceremonial start in Anchorage.
Seavey has competed in every Iditarod since 1995, earning more than $455,000 in prize money. He finished 10th last year.
His son, Dallas, remains in the race. The younger Seavey is coming off a victory as a rookie in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. He was in 14th place in the Iditarod early Thursday.
Seavey comes from a prominent Alaska mushing family. His father, Dan Seavey, was one of three people who helped plan the first Iditarod in 1973.