'Bunch of gangsters' lead Danish musher to Rookie of the Year award
When Mille Porsild crossed under the Burled Arch in Nome on Wednesday afternoon, the Danish musher was welcomed as the Iditarod’s Rookie of the Year.
Although the race was her first Iditarod, Porsild has extensive history mushing dogs on expeditions up to six months long and covering as long as 3,000 miles. She also trained and raced with her former partner Joar Leifseth Ulsom during the time he won the 2018 Iditarod.
Despite her mushing resume, Porsild said after finishing in 15th place that she still felt like an Iditarod rookie.
“Oh heck yeah. Do you know how many mistakes I made on this race that were like massive? Starting with oversleeping two hours at the 24. No, I definitely made my fair share of rookie mistakes,” Porsild said.
Despite being hard on herself for mistakes along the trail, Porsild was happy with the experience.
“There’s always room to improve, but I don’t think you can improve this experience in the sense that it’s absolutely magical,” Porsild said.
The dogs Porsild mushes on polar expeditions are built differently than the dogs she ran the Iditarod with.
“These dogs are different than the big freight dogs that I’m used to. They just march on. These guys, it’s more like driving a Ferrari in some pretty wild conditions,” Porsild said. “I had absolutely no expectations, so I wanted to do these dogs justice. They’re a bunch of gangsters that came together as a team and I wanted to put it all on the table and I can guarantee you that they did.”
Porsild said “you never know” if she’ll be back for next year’s Iditarod to try to improve on her 15th place finish.
Porsild is the first woman to win Rookie of the Year since 2007 and the seventh woman in the race's history earn the recognition.