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NYO Great, Iditarod Champs, Denali Climber to be Inducted into Alaska Sports Hall of Fame

Apaay Campell of Gambell competes in the one-foot high-kick at BSSD's NYO Tournament in 2014.

World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO) competitor, coach, and ambassador Nicole Johnston is one of four athletes to be inducted into the 11th class of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Having learned Native Games in Nome, Johnston went on to win more than 100 career medals in competitions like WEIO, Native Youth Olympics, and Arctic Winter Games. Those medals were won in events like the kneel jump and arm pull. She also held the 1989 record for the two-foot high kick at 6 feet, 6 inches, which wasn’t broken until 25 years later.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was announced on Wednesday, December 14th. Joining Johnston are Iditarod champions Martin Buser and Jeff King, as well as Vern Tejas, the first solo climber to finish a winter ascent of Denali.

Both Buser and King are four-time champions of the 1,000-mile sled-dog race.

Buser currently holds the record for most Iditarod finishes: 31 races in a row, with 33 total finishes. He has also been awarded the Leonhard Seppala Award for humanitarian dog care five times: in 1988, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 2014.

King has been mushing since 1976 and is said to hold the most race titles in the world. He has won distance races like the Iditarod, Yukon Quest, and International Rocky Stage Stop. He’s also a nine-time champion of the Kuskokwim 300, a three-time winner of the Tustemena 200, and a two-time champ of the Copper Basin 300.

In a release last week, Executive Director for the Alaska Hall of Fame Harlow Robinson says these household names have been under consideration to become inductees for many years, stating they represent “classically Alaskan sports.”

The date for the formal induction ceremony has yet to be announced.