Who is musher, Mille Porsild?

Mille Porsild, Photo credit: Anchorage Daily News

Running in her fifth Iditarod in 2024, Mille Porsild is poised to do very well amongst stiff competition and is a fan favorite around the world. 

During a three-month dog sled expedition in Canada in 1992, Mille ran a team of Polar Husky sled dogs for polar explorer Will Steger. After that, she was hooked. Throughout her life, Mille has lived with sled dogs in the magical north, experiencing the people and places while sharing the adventures with people all over the world.

The circumpolar Arctic is like home to her since she has slept in a tent more than 1,000 nights. During the last 15 years, Mille has accompanied her Polar Husky freight dogs on 15 long-haul expeditions.

In total, the expeditions lasted between two and six months and covered 3,000 miles in Greenland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Alaska and all over Canada. As a first sled dog race participant in 2011, Nadezhda Hope ran the 800-mile race in Chukotka, Russia.

She then moved to Alaska with Team Racing Beringia and her then partner. Their training and racing culminated in his Iditarod championship in 2018.
When Mille was 18 years old, she did her first dog sled expedition in America. She was born and grew up in Denmark.

Greenland’s first Arctic research station was founded by her great-grandfather. Mille’s grandfather, who left Greenland to return to Denmark, traveled Arctic North America with his sons by dog team and canoe in the 1920s. As a kid, Mille sat in his basement surrounded by drawings, mystical carvings, and seal skin clothing, listening to his adventures across the ice with his sled dogs. Those were the days Mille imagined living her life with sled dogs when she was a child.

In 2021, Mille won the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award for her care of the dogs during the race, in addition to setting a new time-record for an international musher. Yet she is still Danish even though she lives in Alaska with her sled dogs. For Team Racing Beringia, she will race the 2024 Iditarod.

On March 5, 2004, Mille was the first musher to reach the Nikolai checkpoint at 9:09 a.m. with 14 dogs in harness, winning the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award.

First presented in 2019 and given to the first musher to reach the McGrath checkpoint, this award will now be given to the first musher to reach the Nikolai checkpoint starting this year. The Nikolai community has strong ties to Iditarod and special gifts of Beaver fur musher’s mitts with beadwork on moose hide (handmade by Loretta Maillelle), a beaver fur hat (handmade by Oline Petruska) as well as a Pendleton wool blanket from Alaska Air Transit will be presented to the first musher who reaches the Nikolai checkpoint. The award was presented to Porsild by Brandon Esai, Alaska Air Transit’s Lead Ramp Agent, in his hometown of Nikolai. Brandon is accompanied by his two sons, Blaze and Junior Esai.

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