Zoya finished 53rd of 95 mushers in her rookie year 2008 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She didn't race in 2009 and scratched in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

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Zoya DeNure, 39, was born and raised in Wisconsin. She spent 12 years in the fashion industry working primarily as a runway & fashion model. In 2002, tired of the pressures and triviality of that lifestyle, she rented a storage unit in Madison, Wisconsin, stacked it with furniture, shoes, dresses, and headed to Alaska with a carry-on and the dream of running, living and breathing sled dogs. Her Siberian husky, Ethan, traveled with her.

Ethan has since passed, but the dream is still alive. Zoya is married to fellow dog driver John Schandelmeier, and now splits her time between homes at Maclaren River and Delta Junction, Alaska. She has two daughters; Jona, seven and Olivia, two. The family operates a rescue/rehab facility for unwanted sled dogs and is striving to focus attention on positive training techniques. Zoya loves the sport of sled dog racing, enjoys time on the trail with her team and is determined to succeed in the Iditarod.

Zoya had some initial success racing sled dogs finishing her rookie year, but has had several rocky years in her Iditarod quest since. She is determined to turn it around in the 2016 Iditarod and is embarking on an ambitious training regimen with a respectable Iditarod finish in mind.

Zoya DeNure, 36, was born and raised in Wisconsin. As a young girl, she traveled the world as a fashion model walking the runways in Milan, Italy and Shanghai, China. After 12 years in the field, Zoya was ready for a change. Soon after returning home from Italy, she bought a Siberian Husky named Ethan and from there, new dreams realized. “Dogs make me very happy!” Zoya read everything she could about mushing and the Iditarod sled dog race. The late Susan Butcher inspired her and Zoya shared Susan’s passion for animals and adventure. Heading north to a dog yard in Alaska, seeking a more basic lifestyle away from all the city hub-bub, seemed like an easy decision. Now, nine years later; “I live my dream in the mountains, with my family and sixty sled dogs. My office is outside with canines and nature.” Zoya owns and operates Denali Highway Tours & Cabins; a cabin rental retreat on the Denali Highway. The family kennel, Crazy Dog Kennels, takes in unwanted sled dogs; rehabilitating them with a positive training program. Some dogs go on to the races & others go on to be house dogs. “We also have our own breeding program and have been working on building a competitive Iditarod race team over the last six years. I’m excited to hit the trail.” She, her husband, John Schandelmeier and their 3 year old daughter, Jona, split their time between homes in Paxson, AK and Maclaren River. Zoya enjoys running, writing, yoga, music, hunting, fishing & time with family.

Zoya DeNure, 33, was born and raised in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. She worked as an International runway model for twelve years, working in such place as Shanghai, China and Milan, Italy.

On one of her trips back home, she watched a sled dog demonstration; fascinated by these amazing animals, she quit her job and trekked to Alaska in search of her new destiny. She worked for well-known musher Bill Cotter for one year before piecing together her own dog team; some purchased from other mushers, some rescues.

In 2003, she met her husband, John Schandelmeier, and together they founded a rescue/rehabilitation kennel for unwanted sled dogs.

2008 found Zoya competing in and finishing her first Iditarod Sled Dog Race with mixed team of rescues and her own race dogs; "there is no difference—dogs are dogs whether they come from the Shelter or from our yard." Zoya's 2010 team will again be a mix of dogs; "I expect to be more competitive this time, now that I know what I am getting in to; I can focus on where I need to improve."

Zoya, John and their 7 month-old daughter, Jona, reside in Interior Alaska near the town of Paxson. Zoya enjoys writing, yoga, and keeping fit; but above all, her time with dogs.


Zoya finished 53rd of 95 mushers in her rookie year 2008 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She didn't race in 2009 and scratched in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

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