Archive for April, 2014


Posted on April 30th, 2014 in Facebook, Sledder Featured Article, Sledder News

We knew it was going to be hard for Yamaha to top their new model introduction from last year when they shook the industry to its core with the announcement of their newfound partnership with Arctic Cat. The result of that relationship produced some of the best new Yamaha models in recent years. For 2015, the relationship continues to fuel new models with an emphasis in the mountains where you’ll find four new Viper MTX sleds. Back down where the oxygen is a bit thicker, another crossover sled is thrown into the mix that doubles as a touring model. Carry-over Yamaha models also receive some added technology with a very interesting addition dubbed the performance damper available on Apex, Vector, and Venture sleds, plus those same models also receive a new family hue of graphite and red.


With the mountain crowd feeling left out last season, they will get their just rewards in 2015 thanks to four all-new Viper MTX rides to choose from. Based on the SRV Mountain chassis, the focus was clearly on maneuverability and control versus pure king of the mountain status. The chassis features a vertical steering post, open running boards, lightweight seat, and the elimination of the rear heat exchanger to reduce weight and snow build-up. Available in two lengths (153-inch and 162-inch) and three shock combinations including a spring only LE model touting top of the line Fox FLOAT EVOL units up front and a paint and graphics scheme that any Denver Broncos fan will be proud to own.


The new for 2015 Viper STX DX is the latest crossover model from Yamaha and, frankly, can do it all. Outfitted with a versatile 141 x 1.352-inch Cobra track, the STX represents a performance crossover, a two-up touring sled, and one-up utility adventure sled all wrapped up into one. A standard rear rack complements a standard heated seat and tall window, while an available quick attach passenger seat expands the possibilities. Another key change for 2015 found on the STX and all trail Viper models is a revised Tuner ski that will tout a deeper keel than previous versions.




Polaris Hillclimbers Win Every King of the Hill Title & Dominate Pro Classes at RMSHA Beaver Mtn. Hillclimb

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 in Facebook, Sledder Featured Article, Sledder News

Erin Beukelman & Keith Curtis Win Four Classes Apiece, Sweep ‘King’ Crowns

Polaris snowmobile hillclimbers won the overwhelming majority of Pro class titles, swept the Women’s classes to earn Queen of the Hill honors, and won every King of the Hill crown at the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association’s Beaver Mountain Hillclimb at Logan, Utah, on April 18-19. Polaris Pro racers Erin Beukelman and Keith Curtis each won four Pro classes and they combined to sweep the Pro King titles, while Jesse Hotchkiss won the Semi-Pro King of the Hill contest.

Polaris racer Shelley Heap of Evanston, Wyoming, won all three Women’s classes – Stock, Improved Stock, and Mod – to automatically win the Queen of the Hill crown.

With one event remaining on the RMSHA schedule, Polaris racers are looking to finish strong and sew up numerous points titles.

Pros Put on a Display of Terrain Domination®

Polaris Pro racers dominated at Beaver Mountain, winning all three King of the Hill titles, nine of 12 Pro classes, and sweeping the top three spots in six classes, including finishing 1-5 in both 600 Stock and 800 Improved Stock.

Leading the way were the two Polaris racers who won four classes apiece and swept the King of the Hill titles:

• Erin Beukelman of Caldwell, Idaho, won four classes – 700 Mod, 800 Stock, 800 Improved Stock, and 1000 Improved Stock – finished second in in 800 Mod, and won the Improved Stock King of the Hill crown on his 800 Improved Stock sled.

• Keith Curtis of Dillon, Montana, also won four classes – 600 Stock, 800 Mod, 1000 Stock, and Open Mod – took second in 800 Stock, won the Stock King of the Hill crown, and won the Mod King of the Hill on his 800 Mod sled.

The other class winner on a Polaris was Cole Willford of Fruita, Colorado, who won the 600 Mod class. He also finished second in 700 Mod.

Other Polaris racers to earn top-three podium spots were:

– Luke Rainey, who finished second in 1000 Stock and third in 600 Stock, 700 Stock, and 800 Stock.

– Dolan Phelps finished second in 600 Stock, 700 Stock, and 1000 Improved Stock.

– David Sharp, Jr., took second in 800 Improved Stock and Open Mod.

– Justin Thomas finished second in 600 Improved and third in Open Mod.

– Tyler Crockett took second in 600 Mod and third in 800 Improved Stock.

– Michael Crockett finished third in both 600 Mod and 700 Mod.

Semi-Pro King Crown Won on a Polaris

Jesse Hotchkiss won two Semi-Pro classes and won the Semi-Pro King of the Hill crown on his Stock sled. Polaris racers finished 1-5 in the Semi-Pro Modified class as Hotchkiss won, Andy Thomas was second, and Dustin Grant took third. Those same three racers – Hotchkiss, Thomas and Grant – also finished 1-2-3, respectively in Semi-Pro Stock. In Semi-Pro Improved Stock, Andy Thomas won, Jason Fox was second and Taylor Siemers took third.

Tanner Meyers won both Juniors heats, and Johnathon Durmas and Rayden Gladfelder both finished second and third in those two heats. Jaden Cook won the Amateurs Stock class, with Gladfelder second and Durmas third. Gladfelder won Amateurs Improved Stock and Amateurs Mod, and Tanner Meyers finished second in both classes.

The season finale for the RMSHA will be the Crazy Horse Hillclimb at Grand Targhee in Driggs, Idaho, April 26-27.

Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs – AWSC

Posted on April 22nd, 2014 in Facebook, Sledder Featured Article, Sledder News


The Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) hosted its 45th Annual Meeting and Convention in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on March 28-30, 2014. Joining the 750+ members as special guests were Representatives Mary Czaja and John Nygren, along with Senator Rick Gudex. These legislators were recognized for their strong support of snowmobiling in Wisconsin. Also present was Cathy Burrow, DNR Snowmobile Program Grant Manager.

A video message from Governor Scott Walker discussing the value and economic impact of snowmobiling was presented to the group, in which the Governor congratulated the AWSC and others for their recent, successful efforts to modify snowmobile program funding and strengthen clubs.

The AWSC has over 26,000 family memberships in nearly 600 clubs throughout Wisconsin. It is these club members that volunteer each year to develop, sign and maintain the nearly 25,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that are open to the public. These trails would not be possible without the generosity of the thousands of landowners across the state who allow the trails to cross their property.

During the Annual Meeting, the AWSC Executive Board members for 2014-2015 were elected. They are President Dave Newman, Vice President Lori Heideman, Treasurer Andy Malecki, Secretary Sue Smedegard and Executive Director Sam Landes.

(Photo, left to right – Sue Smedegard, Secretary; Lori Heideman, Vice President; Andy Malecki, Treasurer; Dave Newman, President; Sam Landes, Executive Director)

Polaris Hillclimbers Dominate at Crested Butte, Winning 9 of 12 Pro Classes and All Three Pro King of the Hill Crowns

Posted on April 21st, 2014 in Facebook, Sledder Featured Article, Sledder News

Keith Curtis & Erin Beukelman Win Seven Pro Classes, All Three King Crowns

keith curtis

Polaris Terrain Domination® on the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb circuit continued at the Crested Butte (CO) Hillclimb on April 12-13, as Polaris hillclimbers won nine of 12 Pro classes – including all four Pro Stock classes – won all three Pro King of the Hill titles, won every Semi-Pro and Amateur class, and swept every podium position in three Semi-Pro classes.

Leading the way among Pro hillclimbers was Keith Curtis, who won four class titles and two King crowns, and Erin Beukelman, who won three class titles and Improved King of the Hill. Curtis won three Pro Stock classes and Luke Rainey won 700 Stock for a Polaris sweep of the Stock titles.

Pro Classes: Four Polaris Racers Win Class Titles

Polaris hillclimbers won all four Pro Stock classes at Crested Butte, and Keith Curtis won three of those, taking first place in 600 Stock, 800 Stock and 1000 Stock. He also won the 800 Mod class, and in the King of the Hill runoffs, he won the Stock crowns on his 800 Stock-winning sled, and won the Mod King of the Hill title on his 800 Mod sled.

In the five classes Erin Beukelman entered, he won three titles and finished second in another class. Beukelman won the 700 Mod, 800 Improved Stock, and 1000 Improved class titles, and took second in 800 Mod. He went on to win the Improved King of the Hill title on his 1000 Improved sled.

Justin Thomas won the 600 Mod class, took second in 600 Improved, and finished third in the Mod King of the Hill runoff.

Luke Rainey won the 700 Stock class, and took third in both 800 Stock and 600 Stock.

Also earning podium finishes in the Pro classes were: Cole Wilford, who was second in 700 Mod and third in 800 Mod; Tyler Crockett, who took second in 600 Mod and 800 Improved Stock, and third in 1000 Improved; David Sharp, Jr., who finished second in both 1000 Stock and Open Mod; and Aaron Sterck, who took third in Open Mod.

Polaris Racers Claim Every Semi-Pro Podium Spot

Polaris racers filled the podium in all three Semi-Pro classes, including finishing 1-6 in Semi-Pro Stock, where Jesse Hotchkiss won, Andy Thomas was second, and Taylor Siemers finished third. In Semi-Pro Improved, Polaris racer Andy Thomas won, Taylor Siemers was second, and Jason Fox took third. In Semi-Pro Mod, it was Jason Fox winning, Dustin Grant in second, and Kameron Lindsay in third.

Jesse Hotchkiss won the Semi-Pro King of the Hill title on his Stock sled, while Jason Fox was second and Andy Thomas took third.

In Amateurs Stock, Polaris racers finished 1-5, as Tanner Meyers won, Rayden Gladfelder was second and Johnathon Durmas finished third. In Amateurs Improved Stock, Polaris racers finished 1-2-3, with Durmas winning, Justyn Heater in second, and Gladfelder taking third. Tanner Meyers won Amateurs Mod and Heater finished third.

In the Women’s classes, Shelley Heap won the Women’s Stock title, finished second in Improved and Mod, and took second in the Queen of the Hill competition. Faith Vickers reached the podium with a third-place finish in Women’s Stock.

There are two events left on this season’s RMSHA schedule: the Beaver Mountain Hillclimb in Logan, Utah, April 18-19, and the season finale, the Crazy Horse at Grand Targhee Hillclimb in Driggs, Idaho, April 26-27.


A Pristine Ride on the Edge of Canoe Country*

Posted on April 20th, 2014 in Facebook, Sledder Featured Article, Sledder News


The annual Fun Run in Ely this January will be more than just a fundraiser for area clubs – it will be a birthday party.*

Fifty years ago, the Ely Igloos snowmobile club got its start when a group of riders got together for social activities, says Nancy McReady, club secretary. Since the early days, it’s evolved into a service-oriented club that maintains and grooms 125 miles of area trail. There’s even an original member still active in the club, Russ Robertson, who teaches youth safety classes.

The Fun Run highlights the trails in one of Northern Minnesota’s golden triangles: Ely, Tower and Isabella, with Babbitt in between. The trail system includes numerous local trails as well as the main arteries of the Taconite and Tomahawk state trails — which have a terminus in Ely. The trails stretch across three state forests and the Superior National Forest.

Ely is at the northern point of this triangle and nearly peeks into the southwestern side of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Though trails do not enter the Wilderness area, riding around Ely certainly offers a pristine element.

“You’re practically experiencing the BWCA without being in it,” says Mary Vogt, owner of the Northern Lights Lodge and Resort. Tall pines, rocky outcroppings and scenic lakes are a part of almost any area trail.

Trails in this area have a remote feel. Gas and food stops are only in the city limits and it’s wise to fill the tank when riders see a gas station. There’s a variety in terrain, too, from narrow twisting trails to open laketops. Just don’t expect any ditch riding: it doesn’t exist here.

Many north country trails make exclusive use of public lands, but not the Ely Igloos: there’s a portion of the local trails that cross private property, particularly between lake portages. As long as riders stick to groomed trails, there’s no risk of accidently entering the Boundary Waters.

While there are many options for day-long loops, Vogt suggests heading out of town on the Tomahawk Trail, which features some high rocky ledges. Take a break at the Mattila Shelter, where the club stocks wood for bonfires. Head west on Stony Spur. After Babbitt, continue to the Fishing Lakes Trail and then the Putnam Lake trails. “More often than not, you’ll see a moose, a wolf or a fox here,” Vogt says. “You can’t get a lot of speed, but you really get to soak up the woods.”

Then there’s the local spur trail about halfway between Babbitt and the Mattila Shelter. It’s a favorite of McCready’s and leads from the Stony Spur to Hidden Bay on the narrow Birch Lake. “It’s really pretty,” she says of the 6-mile trail. “When you go down that trail, you see cut rock and the trees. It’s a slower trail where you enjoy the scenery.”

If the state trails are crowded, ride with the locals on the laketop trails. It takes three lakes to reach Lake Vermilion and two lakes to reach Babbitt. “All the lake riding is a nice change up,” McCready says. The lakes are all staked and groomed. A smaller lakes loop stretches north of Ely, the Grassy Lake loop, offers a good mix of lakes and portages. It’s a slower, beautiful route that is especially nice for novice riders, she says.

Consider Ely as a starting point for the Cross Border Snowmobile Tour, a 400-mile loop that takes a snowmobiler around the Boundary Waters and its Canadian counterpart, Quetico. The route takes many trails-less-traveled and takes three to five days to complete, depending on pace. Be prepared with remote border-crossing permits and an Ontario trail pass prior to making this trip.

Ely offers numerous winter activities for active travelers, including a large welcome mat for snowmobilers. And don’t forget to wish the Ely Igloos a very happy 50th – and many more.