Another Tragedy Strikes Lance Mackey

Partner, Jenne Smith, Dies In ATV Rollover Lance Mackey in Nome (Wikipedia) Lance Mackey, probably the best known member of the famous Macke...

Partner, Jenne Smith, Dies In ATV Rollover

Lance Mackey in Nome (Wikipedia)

Lance Mackey, probably the best known member of the famous Mackey dog mushing family, has suffered another major loss. His 5-year partner and mother of two of his three children, Jenne Smith, died on a weekend ATV rollover near their Comeback Kennel on the hills above Fairbanks.

One of Lance Mackey's favorite sled dogs. (Photo, Country Journal)

Mackey is a four-time winner of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, and also a four-time winner of the even more difficult Yukon Quest. In 2007, he was the first person to win both races in the same year. 

Mackey's dad, Dick Mackey, was also well known. In an incredible photo finish against Rick Swenson, Dick Mackey won the Iditarod with one second to spare – both of them running down the middle of Front Street in Nome with their dogs in 1978. Lance's brother, Rick Mackey, won the Iditarod in 1983.

At his height of fame, Lance Mackey was Alaska's flat-out fan favorite. No dog driver had been so popular since the great George Attla. 

Mackey's raggedy appearance, straggly beard, plainspoken honesty and obvious "Alaskan-ness" was in direct contrast to some of the other more cerebral and wealthy mushers who had taken over the sport: mushers who wore pink outfits provided by national outerwear sponsors, who tested special high-end expensive foods on their dogs, and who treated mushing more as a scientific (and business) venture. 

Lance Mackey's famous Comeback Kennel near Fairbanks. (File Photo, 2017 by Country Journal)

Mackey's toothless grin, his tales of having a doctor cut off his finger, his ability to mush while struggling with a massive neck tumor or while carrying a feeding tube to his stomach  – and even the way he took his dead mother's ashes out on the trail – just put him into a whole different breed of dog driver. 

Eventually, it all caught up with him and he ended up with serious drug and alcohol problems, endangering his career. 

He credited Jenne Smith with pulling him out of it all. 


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