FALL 2017 | ISSUE 12
GEAR ISSUE 2018 Mountain Sleds | Cody Matechuk Interview | Riding Tip with Chris Brown | The Early Days of Mountain Riding
TEAM RIDERS: ADAM ONASCH BRAD GILMORE BRETT TURCOTTE BRODIE EVANS CARL KUSTER CHRIS BROWN CHRIS BURANDT CHRISTIAN GAGNON CODY BORCHERS CODY MCNOLTY DEREK WOOD GEOFF DYER JAY MENTABERRY JULIE-ANN CHAPMAN KEITH CURTIS NADINE OVERWATER REAGAN SIEG RENE ST. ONGE RILEY SUHAN ROB ALFORD
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RITUAL Tick, tock, tick, tock, the countdown has begun.
2018 MOUNTAIN SLEDS WHICH SLED IS BEST FOR YOU? There’s only one way to know which is the best sled for you. You have to find out for yourself.
16 INTERVIEW FRESH START: CODY MATECHUK
22 RIDING TIP PANEL SLIDE / CHRIS BROWN
26 GEAR FIRST LOOK If you had the chance to get together with friends and try out a bunch of brand-new gear, wouldn’t you? Of course we did.
32 REMEMBER WHEN…? FIRST RIDE IN THE MOUNTAINS We all started somewhere. Cody Borchers looks back at his early mountain sledding experiences and how far the sport has progressed since.
58 EXPOSURE Get amped for the season with this selection of stunning images.
66 SIDETRACK THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY…MOSTLY THE UGLY Maybe the “Glory Days” of mountain riding weren’t that glorious after all.
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40 PASSION RUNS DEEP The mob of sledding enthusiasts that descended on Boulder Mountain for Yamafest 2018 have plenty of reasons to be excited for the 50th anniversary of Yamaha snowmobiles.
44 PERFECTING THE TRADE On a trip to ride the 2018 Ski-Doo sleds at Carl Kuster Mountain Park, a lesson is learned about the personal dedication required to operate at the highest level of adventure tourism hospitality.
50 GAINING GROUND Measured innovation is the name of the game at Arctic Cat, and the approach has paid big performance dividends for the company and its loyal following this year.
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MAMMUT.CH PHOTO: ROBERT SIM
RITUAL BY MATTHEW MALLORY
Tick, tock, tick, tock, the countdown has begun. Daylight recedes by three minutes a day. Nights are cool, leaves begin to turn and antlered deer become hot and bothered with the coming rut. Grey wisps of clouds, bloated with the promise of snow fill the sky, signifying a change of seasons and a change in our collective attitude. Stoke levels rise as we check off days now, not months, until that first ride. The sledding lifestyle is filled with rituals that reflect the season of their origin. Rituals are important; they help define who we are and what we do. They ground us, giving our hopes and expectations a firm base. Winter brings stoke-filled moments on snow, cold tailgate beers at dusk, greasy shop nights spinning wrenches and, let’s not forget, the ever-important social media cruising and posting. But every season is steeped in its own set of rituals: the deep snow of winter, spring sunshine sessions, summer work and recovery—and then there’s fall. It’s the season to pull out gear and check everything over to figure out what works and what needs replacing—the dress rehearsal stage. And whether a new sled is showing up at the dealer or you’re milking another year out of the old one, it’s gonna mean some shop time. Attending snowmobile tradeshows and watching new sled flicks help fuel our stoke. But most importantly, we get together with our riding crew to make plans, talk shit, ogle new machines and gear, and talk of riding days past. Fall is the time to partake in the annual rituals that help define our sledding culture. It’s time to get stoked for the coming season. The deep snow of winter will be here before we know it!
PHOTO: JEFF HARKER
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 9
ON THE COVER EDITOR Patrick Garbutt
PHOTO: STEVEN MARLENEE RIDER: BLAINE KLAWITER
ART DIRECTION & Lyuba Kirkova GRAPHIC DESIGN COPY EDITOR Steve Crowe PUBLISHER Mountain Sports Media CONTRIBUTING Marty Anderson, Cody WRITERS Borchers, Chris Brown, Mary
Clayton, Jeremy Hanke, Jessica Joy, Matthew Mallory, Colin Wallace, Brandon Wiesener, Donegal Wilson
CONTRIBUTING Rob Alford, Marty Anderson, PHOTOGRAPHERS Dave Best, Cliff Borchers,
Julie-Ann Chapman, Ryen Dunford, William Eaton, Alex Hanson, Jeff Harker, Steven Marlenee, Jason Rowley, Allan Sawchuck, Robert Sim, Daniel Stewart
ADVERTISING SALES Lyuba Kirkova
Magi Scallion Fraser Stewart
DISTRIBUTION Mountain Sledder magazine is published twice a year (September and December) and can be found at powersports shops and on newsstands throughout Canada. CONTRIBUTIONS Mountain Sledder magazine (MS) is not responsible for unsolicited contributions. MS retains all rights on material published in MS for a period of 12 months after publication and reprint rights after that period expires. Submission inquiries can be sent to info@ sleddermag.com
STEVEN MARLENEE Photographer Steven Marlenee dedicates his winters to capturing the joy of the backcountry, and to fighting for the right to access it. He doesn’t accept payment for the use of his images—only donations to the Colorado Snowmobile Association’s Right to Ride organization, which seeks to advance, promote and preserve the sport of snowmobiling in Colorado. marleneephotography.com
To change your address or order new subscriptions, visit sleddermag.com
802 9 St N, Golden, BC V0A1H2 250.344.3645 email@example.com Special thanks to Aaron and Andrew at Mountain Motorsports in Golden, BC for loaning us their demo sleds on more than a couple of occasions. You guys rock! Printed in Canada by TC Transcontinental Printing © Copyright, Mountain Sledder 2017. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any materials published in MS is expressly forbidden without the written consent of the publisher.
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READ OUR DIGITAL ISSUE ONLINE
CONQUER NEW HEIGHTS. RYEN DUNFORD Revelstoke-based sled photographer Ryen Dunford presses the shutter button more times in a single winter than most sledders will in their entire lifetime. He shoots some of the biggest names in sledding, and if you’re looking at a banger action shot in this issue, there’s a very good chance that his name is on it.
MARTY ANDERSON Since about the time he could walk, Marty Anderson has been ripping up the mountains and powder of the Central Interior. Raising four daughters in the process has given him a somewhat unique view on combining snowmobiling with family life, usually at the expense of his sanity.
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MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 11
AVALANCHE CANADA LOOKS AT CLOSE CALLS IN BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE WORKSHOPS BY MARY CLAYTON, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, AVALANCHE CANADA
PHOTO: DANIEL STEWART
Story telling is one of the oldest forms of communication, and one of our most effective methods of teaching. Telling stories will be a central theme in this season’s Backcountry Avalanche Workshops, put on by Avalanche Canada. The workshops will look at some of the close calls from last winter, examine the lessons that can be learned and hopefully pass on some good advice on how to avoid a similar situation. Over the past winter, our forecasters heard about a lot of close calls involving snowmobilers, especially in the eastern part of the Purcells, Columbias and Cariboos, and in the North Rockies. These stories came in from our Mountain Information Network, as well as directly from survivors and witnesses. We have some interesting stories to tell about sledders who are lucky to be alive.
• Over the past five years, 24 men died while snowmobiling (there were 45 avalanche deaths in total, including all other snow-related activities) • All of the snowmobiling accidents occurred in BC but two-thirds of the victims were residents of Alberta • Of those Alberta residents, 73% were from communities within 150km of Edmonton
There were some tricky snowpack conditions in those regions over the past winter. As a rule of thumb, shallow snowpacks are weaker than deep snowpacks. Last year, long periods of cold, dry weather left many parts of BC with a shallow, weak snowpack. Those days of drought also created weak layers. It was a combination of factors that caught more than a few people off-guard.
So this year, our Backcountry Avalanche Workshops will be aimed at snowmobilers and will be held in communities in central and northern Alberta. At time of publication we don’t have a schedule set, so please keep an eye out for a workshop coming to your town or city in November or early December. We’re hoping to include Fort McMurray in our plans, as well as communities closer to Edmonton.
In addition to the close calls, our workshops will be guided by some other information as well. Last year we crunched some numbers in our fatality statistics and found some interesting patterns in the snowmobiling fatalities:
We are grateful to those who shared their stories from last winter. No one went out with the intention of triggering a slide; they were all surprised. But telling their stories allows us to maximize the learning potential as we all work together to continue to enjoy great, safe winters.
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BC PROVINCIAL MEMBERSHIP PERMIT BY DONEGAL WILSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BCSF
Snowmobile clubs in BC have discussed and tried several times over the 50-year history of the BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) to implement a provincial permit structure. The idea is that—similar to other provinces in Canada—riders would buy a Provincial Membership Permit, which would allow them to ride any area in BC without paying day fees. This is not a new concept as every other province except the territories has this structure. BC is unique in that many of our trails do not connect from one area to the next, but otherwise the province faces similar land-access challenges to those of the other provinces. Nevertheless, with so many clubs around the province that operate in a variety of different landscapes and with different capacities, a plan has never been implemented.
How do you learn more about the proposed plan? Join your local snowmobile club, attend the meetings and ask questions. As drafts are completed next season, they will be shared out to club presidents for feedback and discussion amongst their members.
However, BC clubs have now voted for and will fund a full business plan to look at how a provincial permit could be structured. A committee of the clubs will review how it works in other provinces, gather the data needed to assess the unique factors and needs in BC, and bring in the skills and expertise required to create a complete business plan. The BCSF has created a first draft to get the discussion started and is looking forward to working with this committee and the member clubs to develop the next draft.
The committee could complete the work and come to the conclusion that it is not a feasible idea for BC clubs.
Once the plan is completed, the clubs in BC will vote on a structure and implementation plan moving forward. The intent is for the clubs in BC to vote on the matter at the BCSF Annual General Meeting in Revelstoke on March 24, 2018.
How do you get involved if you want to participate? You can help the clubs with the funding of this important next step at the BC Snowmobiling Provincial Pass GoFundMe page, you can join your local club if you are not already a member, and you can participate with your club to ensure that the best possible plan is developed for the sport of snowmobiling in BC. Does this mean you will be able to buy a pass anytime soon? Not necessarily...
The clubs could vote to not implement the plan. The BC Government could prevent the clubs from moving forward with a new plan if they do not support the outcomes. There are many unknowns, but the exciting part is that regardless of the outcome of the vote, BC will have thoroughly investigated the possibility and made a decision on a direction forward. The Provincial Membership Permit will no longer be a question of “what if”.
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF SKADI, NOT CONTEST SUBMISSIONS TOP: PHOTO: ROB ALFORD / RIDER: JEREMY HANKE BOTTOM: PHOTO: ALAIN SLEIGHER / RIDER: JEREMY HANKE
THE CALLING VIDEO & PHOTO CHALLENGE AWARDS BY MOUNTAIN SLEDDER
The panel of judges has been selected, and deliberations are underway for the winning selections of The Calling 2017 Video and Photo Challenge. Submissions from content producers within the mountain snowmobiling community were made in late spring, with hopes of taking home the top awards in two categories. In Phase One of the contest, judges are tasked with choosing the top five submissions with prizes awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each category. First place in the Video Challenge will net $5,000 cash, while the winner of the Photo Challenge will take home $1,500. The top five selections in each category—including the top three prize winners in each challenge—will be announced at the Alberta Snowmobile and Powersports Show in Edmonton, October 13-15, 2017. Phase Two of the contest will consist of the People’s Choice Awards. The top 5 selections in each category will be toured at snow shows and special events throughout Canada and the USA between October 14 and December 5. At each showing, the public will get a chance to cast a vote for their favourite. Winners of the People’s Choice Video and Photo Challenges will be awarded $1,200 in FXR merchandise and a 509 Jacket and Pants set respectively at the end of the tour.
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Finally, between December 5 and December 23, Phase Three—the Social Media Awards—will take place. The Top 5 selections will go online for a special online vote that will determine the Social Media Awards winners, with $1,200 in TOBE merchandise and a set of Slydog Skis up for grabs. Although still in its infancy in 2017, The Calling is projected to become a marquee mountain snowmobile festival and non-profit fundraiser. The first on-snow iteration of the event is planned for Spring 2018, and when fully developed, it will take place annually in Revelstoke, British Columbia. The goals of The Calling are to generate funding for non-profit groups, shift the sledder culture toward safe backcountry use practices, and generate community revenue and exposure for Revelstoke as a world-class snowmobiling destination.
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MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 15
Fresh Start CODY MATECHUK
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A young street bike racing National Champion trades pavement for powder, chasing backcountry and X Games glory. MS: Obviously, someone who rides a snowbike at your level has experience riding motorcycles at a competitive level. What is your background in riding bikes? CM: When I was three years old, I started in the moto side of things. I raced all through the ranks, getting up into mini-65s and -80s. In 2008, I went to full-time street bike racing on the national circuit. I was fourteen years old, riding an SV650 all over Canada. I won that championship, and then in 2009, I went into Amateur 600 and ended up getting that championship. When I was sixteen, in 2010, I turned pro, racing Pro Superbike and Pro 600. 2011 was my last year in street bikes, and I ended up racing Harley Davidsons in XR1200 Spec Class. I was close to wrapping up a championship there but I ended up having a DNF at one of the rounds that kind of put me out of the hunt. But we got second, and that was the last time I ever saw pavement. Three summers ago, I decided to get back into moto lightly and last year I took it a little more seriously and built a moto program after my first year of [riding] snow bikes.
Hometown: Cochrane, AB Age: 23 Snow Bike Setup: 2017 Yamaha YZ450F 2017 Yeti 120â€? kit Tuned by Raze Motorsports RMR Suspensions MX Setup: 2017 Yamaha YZ450F Tuned by LRX Performance RMR Suspensions Motovan accessories
PHOTO: RYEN DUNFORD
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 17
INTERVIEW CODY MATECHUK
MS: Were you ever into riding a sled? What made you first decide to throw a leg over a snow bike? CM: I rode sleds for three years prior to getting a snow bike. I had been talking to Reagan [Sieg] and Brock [Hoyer], and basically they were telling me to buy a snow bike, that I’d love it and I wouldn’t want to go back. Finally, I bit the bullet and sold my sled. A week later I had a snow kit on and I was in the mountains. And I never looked back from there.
MS: What size track do you run on your snow bike, and why? CM: I pretty much run the short track all the time. I think the 129” track is an awesome track, just for me, [with the 120” track] you get that little bit extra out of a big drop, which is a big deal. Whereas if you were sticking to normal riding or trying to push drops that are 30-40 feet, the 129” is a great kit for it. But when you’re trying to push that extra 60, 70, 80 feet, you need everything you can get to your advantage. But [with the short track] there were definitely times when we had guys on sleds packing the trail up to places when it got deep.
MS: What led up to your X Games invite? CM: We went full-tilt into last winter, especially when we got the news that X Games was [a snow bike event]. That really, really ramped everything up, put everyone into panic mode to get ready. We had to take our program and multiply it by ten to make it competitive. We focused on the racing and took it day-by-day. Part of the invite was going down to Minnesota to qualify, and that was a story of its own with some of the setbacks that we had. Between a couple of crashes and some bad starts, it put us into the last-chance qualifiers. We got into the main in the back row, had a horrible start where I stalled in the second corner and was half a lap down, in seventeenth place. I ended up coming back to thirteenth for a red flag. They did a one-after-another restart like they do in Supercross—a rolling start—and from thirteenth, I ended up coming back and almost catching the leaders, up to third place. It was crazy, it was just hammer down, be aggressive, can’t seen anything and pin it. It was a dogfight all the way to the end, but we got that third place which earned us a spot in X Games.
MS: Did racing on a national circuit in Canada prepare you for the experience of the X Games? What was it like to participate in the event? CM: There’s one other event that I’ve been to that compares. When I was twelve—in the transition year before I went to big street bikes—we went to the World Metrakit Mini GP race in Valencia, Spain. It was a huge event and a crazy scene. Kids race motorcycles there like we play hockey here. Every ten-yearold is a full-blown racer. It was cool. [X Games] was definitely surreal, but you get in the moment and you can’t really think of it that way. It’s just another race, just another set of guys. At the end of the day, you race the track—the people are the obstacles—and you do what you can.
MS: Do you prefer riding freestyle in the mountains or racing your snow bike? CM: I definitely prefer the backcountry stuff. It’s where snow bikes belong. The freedom of what you can do on a snow bike compared to a sled, and the
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CODY MATECHUK INTERVIEW
I pretty much run the short track all the time. I think the 129” track is an awesome track, just for me, [with the 120” track] you get that little bit extra out of a big drop, which is a big deal. PHOTO: RYEN DUNFORD
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 19
INTERVIEW CODY MATECHUK options you have—you can take a hill that’s been hit hundreds of times on a sled and you can come at it a completely different way on a snow bike and really get creative with it. And I think the creativity and imagination that you can put out onto the slope is the whole thing that gets me with snow bikes.
We go into a new zone and you see all the fresh snow, and all you want to do is eat it up, destroy it. But when we’re filming, you can’t do that. We get into an area and try to plan everything, every track, to leave it as pristine as possible. So we’re always going around everything and really focusing on where we’re walking, where we’re putting our footprints.
You go trail riding on a dirt bike, and you’re stuck to that trail, and you’re stuck to the surroundings. But as soon as you get on a snow bike, everything’s covered and unless it’s a straight drop, you can sidehill it. The options are just endless.
We usually can’t even go in and check out landings. You’re trying to judge it based on other slopes that face the same direction and look the same. It’s all just to try and make that shot look as good as possible. Everything we do is to try to nail that money shot on the first one so you don’t have any tracks.
MS: Describe your perfect day riding in the mountains. Do you have a favourite zone to ride, and why? CM: I really, really like Revelstoke—especially for snow bikes. It seems like pretty much anywhere you go you can find stuff, with all the trees and the cliff features. But really, the perfect day is timing that bluebird after two weeks, three weeks of the mountain being socked in, and no one’s really been up there. Hopefully that bluebird falls on a Monday or Tuesday when you don’t have too many people in town, and you get the whole mountain to yourself. You can’t get it any better than that. And you just start hammering down.
MS: Which film crews did you shoot with this winter? How is a shoot day different from a day out riding for fun with your friends? CM: We mainly filmed with Jaya [Lange] for the upcoming movie, Trax. Second to that, we filmed a little bit with Hickshow. We did a little bit of dabbling with Donovan Skelton from Slednecks, and also out on the coast for half a day with Pascal Gallant. I ended up having bike issues and had to go back down, so we didn’t get quite where we wanted there. Also, I should have some features in the Braaap film as well. [Filming] is definitely a lot different. I bring buddies out once in a while that haven’t been out. They see all the big stuff being thrown down [in the films] and they want to come see it. They don’t usually come out and ride with us after that because they’re always getting yelled at not to ride anywhere!
PHOTO: RYEN DUNFORD
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So as soon as you get some guy going in the background, revving up his sled and putting tracks right in your perfect backdrop—well, you can’t really have that. It’s more down to business. You’re there to film, and you’re there to make art and do big jumps, you’re not really there to explore anything. You get your exploring done on other days.
MS: Have you set any goals for yourself for Winter 2018? CM: I have a couple of big gaps and big drops that I didn’t get to check off [last winter]. That’s probably the first thing—as soon as the snow comes—some stuff that snow bikes and even sleds have never done. Then obviously, that X Games gold, that’s what we’re pushing for. That’s the crown jewel. Besides that, I’m hoping to put on some riding clinics, to give back to the sport and give some new riders the skills to develop.
MS: Any shout outs? CM: I would love to thank all that made this possible: Yamaha Motor Canada, Cycleworks Foothills, MOTOVAN, Yeti SnowMX, Raze Motorsports, RMR Suspensions, Devon Racing, Cochrane Floors and More, Toyo Tires, TOBE, Dalton Timmis, LRX Performance, Bike Binderz, Justified Cultures, Seat Concepts, CR Racing, and Limenine. As well as everyone along my travels that have pitched in with a bed or a garage to work in, every step of the way; I will never forget. Bring on the snow!
RIDING TIP WITH CHRIS BROWN
PANEL SLIDES PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIDE WHISTLER
Some folks call it an elevator, but I call it a panel slide. It all started for me back in 2005 while filming for Slednecks 8. It was springtime and Chris Burandt and I were filming together in Colorado. I was on my short track and was sidehilling a steep hill when I decided to slow down...the next thing I knew, I was panel sliding down the whole slope. But it didn’t stop there. I continued to do it over and over, while working on better techniques. It was new and super fun! Over the past 13 years I have worked on my panel slide and use it almost daily now for technical moves and for the pure fun of it. The panel slide is a move I teach in all of my technical riding clinics. It’s a move that pretty much anyone can try on the right slope. Here are some tips to help improve your panel slide. For this demonstration, we’ll assume a panel slide on the left side.
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1 Choose the Correct Slope Pick a steep but short hill or bank to start with. A short slope won’t kill your confidence. The steeper it is, the easier it is to panel slide. Note: it shouldn’t be a cornice.
2 Initiate a Sidehill Get into a sidehill position before you get to the edge of where it becomes steep. Do it while it’s still easy, usually on a flatter section above.
3 Body Positioning Your right foot should be forward on the left running board and tucked in. Counter-steer, and get your left leg off the sled and on the ground. You can stop on your left side as you get to the edge. This gives you a chance to re-adjust your body position if needed. You want your body forward on the chassis. Your arms should be bent, not straight.
4 Start with a Counter-Steer Once you feel comfortable and ready, slowly start to sidehill down the slope. The key is having the skis fully counter-steered when you start the slide. This will allow you to get the sled onto its panel. As you get the sled on its panel, tuck your left leg in. I usually tuck my outside leg just in front of my inside leg and in against the front of the tunnel so it’s not caught between the panel and the snow.
5 The Panel Slide Now you’re panel sliding! Your sled should be sliding down the slope on the panel and against your legs. The less drag there is, the faster (and better) your panel slide will be.
6 Skis Control the Slide The attitude of the sled is now controlled by the skis. Continue to countersteer, which should cause the nose of the sled to stay down (or level with the track). If you turn into the hill, the nose of the sled will start to come up the hill, relatively speaking. In this case, gravity will also take over and try to tip your sled over. You want to avoid tipping over, as this is really the only way you could get hurt from this move. So keep your skis countersteered and your weight forward, and you should slide down parallel with the slope. You can steer the ship by making little adjustments with the skis to control whether the nose goes up or down.
7 Quick Adjustments If the nose drops down too far, make a quick adjustment with the skis by turning left. Make sure to quickly turn back to the counter-steer position though to avoid tipping over (high-siding). Another way to get the nose back up is to drop the track. You can do this by hitting the throttle quickly to spin the track, which will drop the track most of the time.
8 Throttle Control I usually use a slow throttle as I slide, or I am blurring the throttle slowly. Both methods work well.
9 Look Ahead Don’t forget to look ahead to where you want to go. You will always go where you are looking!
10 PRACTICE Practice on short and steep slopes and work your way up to some longer slopes for bonus points. Have fun, and keep the rubber up in this case!
Chris Brown is based in Whistler, BC. His company, Ride Whistler, offers backcountry adventures with professional athletes, riding clinics throughout BC and destination riding trips to Japan and Iceland.
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 23
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Gateway Sales & Service 403.845.2421 gatewayss.net Snow Commander Snow Bike Rentals 403.844.0907 snowcommander.ca Sherwood Park
Cycle Works Edmonton 780.440.3200 cycleworksedmonton.com Martin Motor Sports (South) 780.438.2484 martinmotorsports.ca Martin Motor Sports (West) 780.481.4000 martinmotorsports.ca Mountain Magic 780.474.9400 mountainmagic.ca Rapid Revolutions 780.455.7533 rapidrevolutions.com The Sled Shop 780.488.6686 thesledshop.ca Edson
GVP East 604.795.7800
Altitude Motorsports 587.269.4430 firstname.lastname@example.org Spruce Grove
Specialty Motorsports 780.960.0571 specialtymotorsports.ca St. Albert
Riverside Motosports 780.458.7272 rideriverside.com Absolute Power & Performance LTD 780.460.9101 abspow.ca Westlock
C C Cycle Ltd. 780.349.3343
JAB Motorsports 780.586.2867 jabmotorsports.ca
Gibbons Motor Toys 780.923.3796 gibbonsmotortoysalberta.com
Grande Prairie Honda & Powersports 888.532.8010 grandeprairiepowersports.com Stojans 780.538.2934 sotjans.com
RPM Powersports 780.706.2411 rpmpowersports.ca
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HiLine Polaris Suzuki 780.352.7887 hilinepolarissuzuki.com
Alpine Country Rentals 250.566.9774 alpinecountryrentals.com Terracana Ranch Resort 866.968.4304 terracana.com Vernon
Innerspace Watersports, Inc. 250.549.2040 innerspacewatersports.com Riders Edge Suspension 250.542.0269 ridersedgesuspension.com MANITOBA
Outlaw Motorsports 250.828.2200 outlawmotorsports.ca RTR Performance 250.374.3141 rtrperformance.com
West Side Honda/Polaris 1.888.482.7782 westsidehonda.ca
Rock Moto Sport 819.564.8008 rockmotosport.com
Innerspace Watersports Inc. 250.763.2040 innerspacewatersports.com
Generation Sport 888.454.9711 generation-sport.ca
GVP West 604.888.8700
Boondocker Canada 877.449.2699 boondocker.ca Nelson
Main Jet Motorsports 877.352.3191
Prince George Motorsports 250.562.4151 pgmotorsports.ca Revelstoke
Rough Country Marine Ltd 250.837.6738 rough-country.ca Full Speed Rentals 250.837.8883 fullspeedrentals.com Infinite Powersports 250.837.2027 infinitepowersports.com Salmon Arm
Shuswap Xtreme Rec 250.832.3883 shuswapxtreme.com
Ville de Quebec
KLIMQUEBEC - Extreme Limite 418.805.0222 extremelimite.ca SASKATCHEWAN Biggar
OK Tire Arctic Cat 306.948.2426 oktirearcticcat.com Prince Albert
Prairie Recreation Parts & Access. Ltd. 306.763.8001 prairierecreation.com Saskatoon
Proline Motorsports 306.978.7881 prolinemotorsports.ca Recreation Supply 306.664.3560 recreationsupply.ca Weyburn
Rickâ€™s Performance 306.842.5728 email@example.com
Moe's Rentals & Marina 250.836.4406 moesrentals.ca
PHOTO: STEVEN MARLENEE RIDER: CHRIS BURANDT
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 25
First LOOK PHOTOS: ALEX HANSON
You don’t need great snow to have fun riding in the mountains. Really, it’s time spent goofing off with friends that makes mountain sledding so enjoyable. But when the long days of spring turn that magnificent winter powder into concrete, it can be disheartening to know that your season’s sledding days are numbered.
What better reason for one last ride than to get together with friends and try out some new gear. Who cares if the snow is a little stiff, and the weather ain’t great. It’s still fun! And it’s a memory that can tide you over until that glorious white blanket descends upon the land once again.
GORMAN LAKE 1
3 HIGHMARK CHARGER R.A.S. 3.0 $899 For riders who want impact protection built into their avalanche airbag vest—without a bunch of extra bulk and weight—the Charger is the ticket. It’s form-fitting and comfortable, with generous arm cut-outs for easy mobility.
TOBE VIVID BOA JET BLACK BOOT $529.95 Boa-laced boots are ultra-fast on and off, and dual-zone adjustment ensures a perfect fit that won’t slack off as the day goes on. 100% waterproofness and optimal breathability make this boot a winner.
MAMMUT BARRYVOX $425 MAMMUT BARRYVOX S $599 70m search strip width and incredibly intuitive use are two key features of the new transceivers from Mammut. Barryvox S includes smart search features which reduce signal overlap.
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 27
509 IGNITE SINISTER X5 BLACK OPS GOGGLE $289.95 Lens fog is a thing of the past with the new battery-powered thermal conductive heated lens of the Ignite goggle. A single button allows riders to select between two-minute auto or always on modes.
SPRING RIDE 5 509 FORGE ORANGE JACKET $379.95 Keep it simple is the mantra of the Forge Jacket. Minimalist though it may be, premium features such as 5TECH fabric, waterproof zippers and critically taped seams remain, just at a lower price-point.
6 509 BLACK OPS ALTITUDE HELMET $349.95 Black never goes out of style. The Black Ops model can be found in both the thermoplastic poly-alloy constructed Altitude and Carbon Fiber Altitude helmets. Both models feature Fidlock easy-open magnetic chinstrap.
7 509 REVOLVER BLACK TEAL GOGGLE $189.95 Lens pivot technology in the Revolver allows the user to quickly release the lower lens attachment and pivot the lens up to vent pent-up moisture into the air. This can all be done without removing the goggle. It also allows for super fast lens swapping for good vision in changing light conditions.
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HIGHMARK BY SNOWPULSE PRO P.A.S. 3.0 $1059 For 2018, the venerable Highmark Pro has been upgraded to the 3.0 Snowpulse airbag system, which is considerably lighter and takes up less space in the pack than the 2.0 system. The pack is redesigned to be smaller and lighter than previous models, with a more streamlined profile.
FXR BOOST CX PRIME BLACK/OPS MATTE HELMET $240 Lightweight with a secure fit, this helmet does the trick for keeping your noggin protected at a very reasonable price. It even comes with a few bells and whistles including a neck-brace compatible collar and a super handy ratchetstyle quick release buckle.
FXR HELIUM TRILAM LITE BLACK/MINT/ NUKE RED MONO $540 FXR has got it figured out with this mono. Four-way stretch outershell allows easy movement, while its slim cut is built for active riding. It is both uninsulated and without a liner, making it super lightweight and minimalist. 10
TOBE LUDO FUCHSIA PURPLE MONO SUIT $799.95 Ludo is TOBE’s lightweight, entry-level mono. It’s a three-layer, 100% windproof and waterproof nylon uninsulated shell. There’s no liner and no suspenders, but the usual goodies such as waterproof zips and reinforced knees and cuffs are all there.
8 509 EVOLVE ORANGE JACKET $449.95 For maximum freedom of movement, 509’s 5TECH waterproof breathable fabric is cut specifically for the aggressive riding position of mountain sledders. Fully taped seams, waterproof zips, snow skirt and wrist gaiters all work to keep snow and moisture outside where it belongs.
9 509 EVOLVE LIME BIB $399.95 Mid-rise front and rear bibs keep the snow out, while 5TECH fabric keeps you dry. Zipper placements are well thought out with a two-way front zip and side zips for easy boot access. Elastic side panels allow for an aggressive fit with ease of movement.
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 29
FXR CX LITE MONO $550 The uninsulated Lite version of the CX Mono is the ticket for the mountains, but for maximum versatility it can be combined with a removable liner for cold days or lighter activity. Dry seat and knee inserts are among the many bonus features.
MAY 1 17
TOBE NOVO HAWAIIAN OCEAN MONO SUIT $1079.95 Novo is the latest mono suit in the TOBE line-up. It’s got lightweight, bomber Cordura fabric that is fully seam sealed. Vent zips on the outer thigh, an additional chest pocket and different styling are what separate it from the popular Vivid Mono Suit, but otherwise it features similar top-notch construction.
ALPYNE APPAREL VERNON POM-POM BEANIE $25.99
ALPYNE APPAREL YELLOWSTONE SLOUCH BEANIE $25.99 Don’t let your head freeze when it’s time to stop for lunch. Bring some classic style to the mountains with a pom-pom or slouch toque.
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MOUNTAIN SLEDDER SNOWMOBILE FIRST AID KIT $49.95 The only first aid kit designed specifically for sledders has everything you need and nothing you don’t. It comes packaged in a handy zippered soft case that is water resistant and fits easily in your pack.
Photo by Best
What goes up must come down.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN RIDERS SNOWMOBILE TOURS & RENTALS Offers extreme backcountry and family snowmobile tours, as well as Snowmobile, ATV, and Side by Side rentals for everyone. Come experience the ultimate BC backcountry adventure.
1-877-950-SLED (7533) www.rockymountainriders.com
CEDAR HOUSE RESTAURANT & CHALETS A warm place after a full day sledding. Each luxury chalet features a private hot tub, fireplace, full kitchen, BBQ and ample trailer parking.
MOUNTAIN VIEW CABINS Rustic, cozy and comfortable cabins in the woods. We are the closest accommodation to Quartz Creek trails. Leave your tech toys behind and enjoy nature.
MOUNT 7 LODGES Luxurious 2,3 & 4 bedroom lodges with king or twin beds, hot tubs, full kitchen, BBQâ€™s, HDTV & WIFI. Secure parking, centrally located for trails.
IN THE MOUNTAINS
IRST RID 32 | ISSUE 12
PHOTO: CLIFF BORCHERS
STORY BY CODY BORCHERS
My first ride in the mountains was in 1997 aboard my ‘97 Polaris XLT. By that time, my brother Chad and I were already pretty good at chewing cutlines and shredding open meadows in the foothills of Cochrane. On one of our rides to Waiparous, we met some great guys from Calgary— Frank, Lou and “Overboard” Cam. After the ride they told us, “We need to take you guys to the mountains!” From riding with us in the foothills, they knew our ability to manage the terrain was there. But it was super cool that they invited us out to ride with them. They were older than us and had a lot of experience in the backcountry, so we felt comfortable going with them. The boys took us under their wing and exposed us to an amazing new world we never knew existed! Riding the backcountry in the mountains was a whole new experience. The initial feeling of being able to go anywhere was so powerful. There were just so many new challenges: obstacles to navigate, sidehill manoeuvres to learn and jumps that called to be hit. After that first trip up Lang Creek near Golden, BC, we would never look back at those foothill cutlines again. It was an exciting time for my bro and me. Riding the mountains was so addicting! From there it seemed we planned a trip every weekend after that. I was hooked. Soon after our first trip, it became clear that we needed to educate ourselves in the avalanche game. The mountains are something you
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 33
I think that’s what drives me to keep charging. With better suspension, more power and sleds that are easier to manoeuvre, why wouldn’t you want to keep shredding? Age doesn’t have a number on one’s abilities and longevity in this sport now that the equipment is so good.” PHOTO: ROB ALFORD
need to respect and the sheer size of the slopes and obstacles told us that we had more to learn. Thankfully, our local shop had organized an introductory avalanche training course. Avalanche education was less comprehensive back in 1998 than it is today. Still, it conveyed crucial information like choosing proper spots to stop, how to safely cross suspect terrain and the use of a transceiver. After becoming educated, it was time to shred. The main struggle back then was absolutely with the machines; we had to deal with finicky jetting, little 133.5” x 1.5” x 15” tracks and underpowered 600cc engines. The capability of the snowmobiles limited the places you felt comfortable to go. But with every trip, out came something new on the sled to make it go better. Triple pipes, and a 136” x 2” x 15” track! Those things really made a huge difference back then. The addiction was gaining momentum, and soon enough I was making more sacrifices and saving more money for gas and parts. I’d watch Slednecks,
PHOTO: CLIFF BORCHERS
Roops of Hazard, 2 Stroke Cold Smoke and Braaap videos all the time when I wasn’t riding. Like the riders in the films, I loved to hit jumps and still do. My goal has always been to go bigger and better! Back then, we were learning to drop cliffs and get whipped out on windlips. I knew where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go to accomplish the goals I had in mind. Golden is where we rode for the first few years before venturing out to Revelstoke later on. In the winter of 2017, I re-visited some of our old stomping grounds—Gorman and Lang Creek. It brought back some funny memories of what a struggle it was to get to the places we do today with ease. Nowadays, riders can challenge the mountainside with more confidence and ability than ever before—on sleds straight out of the box! I think that’s what drives me to keep charging. With better suspension, more power and sleds that are easier to manoeuvre, why wouldn’t you want to keep shredding? Age doesn’t have a number on one’s abilities and longevity in this sport now that the equipment is so good. I can’t wait to see what snowmobiles will be like in years to come, knowing how far they have come in the last decade. That’s part of what motivates me to keep seeking jumps, drops and technical lines. It’s still fun to push myself, twenty years after my first ride in the mountains.
The year 1997 was a different time in mountain sledding, and we know so much more about avalanche safety now than we did back then. Today, we know that before venturing into the mountains, riders should be prepared with the knowledge that comes from an introductory avalanche safety course such as Avalanche Canada’s Avalanche Skills Training (AST) 1, and to carry the minimum requisite equipment—transceiver, shovel & probe—required to execute a companion rescue in an avalanche incident. — PG
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The X1000 is a tough, waterproof, compact flashlight system which is ideal for many uses including snowmobiling. The extremely small X1000 produces 1000 lumens of light and attaches to helmets, sleds, bikes, or anything else using a simple mount compatible with GoPro cameras. Outdoor recreation at night has never been this bright!
LIGHT. SMALL. BRIGHT.
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 35
Extreme Power Sports
House of Thunder
Full Speed Rentals fullspeedrentals.com
BURNS LAKE Lino’s Sales Ltd
Cycle Works Edmonton
Peak Performance Motorsports 250.417.3310
Boondocker Canada 877.449.2699
Bow Cycle Sourth
Main Jet Motorsports
Prince George Motorsports
Ralph’s Motorsports 250.562.4151
Grande Prairie Honda & Powersports 1.888.532.8010
Windsor Motorsports windsormotorsports.ca
GTS Powersports & RV grasslandtrailersales.com
Cycleworks Foothills cycleworksfoothills.com
Thomas Homes & RV Center 780.624.2720
Saz Auto & Marine firstname.lastname@example.org
PEACE RIVER thomashomesandrv.com
Cycle Works Calgary
Gibbons Motor Toys
Bow Cycle North
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Riders Edge Suspension
Ecko Marine & Powersports 604.888.8700
Cycle Works West/Acheson 250.491.4800
Terracana Ranch Resort
Innerspace Watersports, Inc.
Alpine Country Rentals
Rapid Revolutions 250.836.3401
Martin Motor Sports (West)
The Sled Shop
Innerspace Watersports Inc.
Martin Motor Sports (South)
Shuswap Xtreme Rec
Carl Kuster Mountain Park
Playmor Power Products
SALMON ARM shuswapxtreme.com 250.692.7045
Rainy Creek Powersports rainycreekpowersports.com
Rough Country Marine Ltd
Infinite Powersports infinitepowersports.com
PONOKA Redneck Barbie Inc.
RED DEER Cycle Works Red Deer cycleworks.com
RED DEER COUNTY Synik Clothing synikclothing.com
Turple Bros. turplebros.ca
Absolute Power & Performance LTD 780.460.9101
SWAN HILLS Wilderness Playground Tours 780.333.2800
WAINWRIGHT Willerton Ski-Doo & Golf Cart 780.842.4775
C C Cycle Ltd. 780.349.3343
ADM Sport admsport.com
NEW BRUNSWICK 450.755.4444
CARAQUET Lanteigne Sport lanteignesports.com
LA SARRE 819.333.2249
GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR Islander RV islanderrv.com
Thruway Recreation thruwayrecreation.ca
Groupe Contant contant.ca
VILLE DE QUÉBEC extremelimite.ca
KLIMQUEBEC - Extreme Limite
HiLine Polaris Suzuki
Moto Sport La Sarre
West Side Honda/Polaris
ADM Sport 306.664.3560
Proline Motorsports prolinemotorsports.ca
Rock Moto Sport
Universe Satellite Sales
ROUYN NORAND Moto Sport de la Capitale
Cross-Country Sales & Service
PRINCE ALBERT prairierecreation.com
Snow Commander Snow Bike Rentals
Prairie Recreation Parts & Access. Ltd.
Gateway Sales and Service
CANADIAN DEALER LISTINGS
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE gatewayss.net
OK Tire Arctic Cat
Rapid Power Sports 450.434.6676
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 37
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THE BEST SLED
IS THE ONE THAT'S
BEST FOR YOU BY PATRICK GARBUTT
Does this mean the best sled is the one you’re currently riding? Possibly. But there’s also a solid chance that it isn’t. So, why would anyone choose to ride a snowmobile that’s not the best for them? Well, like sleds, no one is perfect. One of the flaws of the human psyche is a condition known as cognitive dissonance—fancy words for what’s better understood in the snowmobiling universe as the “Dool-Aid” phenomenon. The term Dool-Aid is a clever spin on the 1978 Jonestown deaths in which over 900 cult members—mostly voluntarily—consumed a poisoned Kool-Aid concoction in a mass murder-suicide event. In social media and forum flame-wars, it’s the alleged drink consumed by the cult of Ski-Doo followers who blindly believe in the superiority of their Ski-Doo snowmobiles despite hater arguments put forth that claim otherwise. However, the phenomenon isn’t limited to Ski-Doo owners by any means; there are staunch and unwavering loyalists in all four manufacturers’ camps. So when sledders are confronted with new information that contradicts their beliefs, ideals and values, cognitive dissonance occurs. It’s the psychological stress that occurs to brand-loyal sledders when they are presented with information that might suggest that their brand choice is not the be-all and end-all.
One way to deal with the stress of psychological inconsistency is to ignore or deny information that conflicts with existing beliefs, aka drink the Dool-Aid. But there’s another way, and that is to change the cognition; change the way you think. Maybe the sled that you ride isn’t the best—because it isn’t the best for you. Or maybe it is, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best for someone else.
So how can you be sure that you’re riding the best sled for you? In truth, no editorial wordsmithing can spell that out for you. With our take on the new model year (MY2018) mountain sleds, it’s not our intention to try to change your mind, alter your loyalties or cause you undue mental stress. And we’re certainly not engineers—we have no right to critique the efforts of the hardworking teams that design and build these beasts. So what good are we? Well, we are mountain sledders, and we are experts in the experience of snowmobiling. We can tell you what’s new on the 2018 sleds, and we can describe our own personal experiences riding them. But there’s really only one way to find out which is the best sled for you. You have to try it for yourself. Hop on a friend’s sled. Search out manufacturer demo days. Talk your local dealer into a test ride. Do whatever you’ve gotta do to throw a leg over one of these new machines. Because they all shine in their own way, they are all fun to ride and they are all significantly better than their prior generation. Like people, these sleds aren’t perfect. But they’re getting a little closer every year. Just forget what you think you know and what everyone else tries to make you believe. Find out for yourself what’s best for you.
P40 P54 P50 P44
MOUNTAIN MOUNTAIN SLEDDER SLEDDER || 39 39
Yamaha Enthusiasts Gather to Celebrate 50 Years When the sun finally came out, there they were. On every hill and around every corner. Guys riding Yamaha sleds. A group of four of them, sitting atop a hill here. Two buzzing by at top speed. Five others, peering over a cliff there. Hundreds of them. Everywhere you turned, there were sledders sporting blue, black and red. It was almost like the other snowmobile brands had ceased to exist that day on Boulder Mountain. The world had been conquered, and the day was called Yamafest. Each spring, Yamaha snowmobile enthusiasts flock to Revelstoke, BC with their four-stroke steeds for a oneday celebration of power and refinement. For Yamaha, organizing the event is a way to say “thank you” to the brand’s loyal customers. And for snowmobile enthusiasts, it’s a rare chance to connect face-to-face with the industry people who develop and build the machines they ride. It’s also an opportunity to test-ride Yamaha prototype sleds in the very environment for which they were designed. MY2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Yamaha-built snowmobiles, but that major milestone isn’t the only reason for Yamaha enthusiasts to be excited about their favourite brand for 2018. Steady refinement and a few key factors have made the latest Sidewinder M-TX the best mountain machine that Yamaha has ever produced. Since the Sidewinder was released in 2016, power has been a real selling point for the manufacturer; its 998cc Genesis turbo-charged engine puts out far more horsepower than any factory two-stroke sled, even at sea level. The company claims 180hp,
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although most sledders who have ridden it point to a number closer to 200. Add some elevation, and the horsepower gap between the Sidewinder and twostroke mountain sleds widens. Perhaps it’s the well-known dependability of the brand that makes riders so passionate about their Yamaha sleds. There’s no doubt that a Yamaha snowmobile is more reliable day-in, day-out than any of the other modern mountain snowmobiles out there. That is in part due to the steadfast durability of the four-stroke engine, but also comes thanks to the incredibly calculated engineering on which the brand has built its reputation. Reliable though they may be, four-strokes are typically criticized for their weight, which unfortunately comes part and parcel with that particular engine technology. Ultimately, weight affects the handling and manoeuvrability of the machine, and in an era in which riders are increasingly drawn to challenging terrain it becomes too easy to criticize the capability of a sled based on the numbers and without ever having actually ridden one.
2018 Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX Key Features 998 Genesis Turbo Engine offers more horsepower than any other factory mountain sled 36-Inch SRV-M Front Suspension and narrower body panels for improved sidehilling capability Drop Rolled Chaincase and Tunnel with 8 tooth drivers 3” and 2.6” Power Claw Tracks available in 153” and 162” lengths FOX FLOAT 3 & FLOAT QS3 front shocks option FOX FLOAT 3 & FLOAT QSDL W/Climb Lockout rear shock option YSRC High Performance Clutch System designed specifically to handle the high output of the 998 Genesis Turbo Engine Standard Electric Start and Reverse
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 41
T he changes to the Sidewinder SRV Mountain chassis for 2018 are amazing, making for better handling in the trees. With the new drop and rolled chaincase, it handles the deep days way better. And the narrower side panels make it much easier to get it on sidehills.” – Brock Hoyer
But key changes to the Sidewinder chassis for 2018 work to address this issue. First, the running boards are narrowed by 1” and the body panels have been streamlined by 10%, making it significantly easier to hold a steep sidehill. Second, the chaincase has been dropped and rolled to accommodate an 8-tooth extrovert driver. The resulting attack angle of the track has been decreased by 10%, which drastically improves the ability of the sled to pop up on top of the snow, especially at lower speeds. It also creates room to stuff a 3” lugged Power Claw track under the tunnel, which really helps translate power from the Genesis triple into forward momentum on snow. Other small changes include revised intake venting with pre-filter and updated “mountain-friendly” ergonomics. Although not new, Fox FLOAT 3 shocks are still available on Special Edition models, making it easy to adjust pre-load and spring rate to help dial in specific suspension preferences for mountain riding. And what better place to try out the new performance characteristics of the 2018 Sidewinder M-TX than Boulder Mountain? It’s got every kind of imaginable terrain from open bowls and hills to monster chutes and tight trees. The rolling nature of
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PHOTO: RYEN DUNFORD RIDER: BROCK HOYER
the mountain makes it easy enough to get around to see it all. And it is blessed with regular, deep snowfall. Here’s where the Sidewinder really shines: a place with open alpine, steep hills and deep snow—where a rider can grab a fistful of throttle and carry speed through varying terrain. For that, there isn’t a better spot to unleash the Sidewinder than Boulder Mountain on a sunny afternoon after a storm breaks. There will always be a place for four-stroke power in the mountains. All riders want a reliable sled, and in this department the Sidewinder has no equal. It offers hairstraight-back thrills you won’t find riding another platform. And with each new model year, the chassis becomes that much easier to manoeuvre. It’s easy to feel that passion runs deep with this crowd. Sledders are an enthusiastic bunch to begin with, but Yamaha riders seem to have an extra connection to one another and their machines. Maybe it’s because they spend less time wrenching and more time riding than everyone else. But whatever the reason, it’s clear that 2018 won’t be the last gathering of the Yamaha faithful.
Photo: Alex Hendy
PERFECTING THE TRADE
WORDS BY COLIN WALLACE
A good tradesman makes noise in silence.”
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Exiting the busy flow of the Trans-Canada Highway and starting down the quiet back road toward CKMP, I am overcome with the calming sense that I am about to withdraw from reality for a few days. Nestled in the Interior BC snowbelt between Revelstoke and Sicamous, the deep snowbanks and tall trees lining the road here feel worlds apart from the everyday. Pulling up the lane at night, the large structure housing CKMP’s shop and lodging comes into view. From the outside, it is strictly business: a blocky, two-storey metal-clad building with a large overhead door and two steel man-doors on either side. The only hint of impending luxury is the dark shape of a hot tub on a second-storey deck, outlined by the pragmatic yellow of the high-pressure sodium yard light. As I step through the shop door, I feel as though I have stumbled into Ski-Doo Mecca, and Kuster’s meticulous attention to detail is instantly apparent. Lined up with military precision—perfectly in a row, like jets on an aircraft carrier—is the CKMP armada of snowmobiles, every one a black and yellow Ski-Doo Gen4 Summit X 850 E-TEC with a 165” x 3” track. Perpendicular to the fleet are two freshly delivered 2018 Summit 850s in blue and green: a 175” and a 165”. At the far end of the shop rests Kuster’s personal collection of current race sleds. And more retired race sleds, along with various race memorabilia and some minty-looking, vintage Ski-Doo iron hang from the rafters above. Everything has a place and there is no clutter to be found. It’s pretty obvious that CKMP is closely aligned with snowmobile manufacturer BRP. At its core, CKMP is a hospitality service provider. But the entity plays a fringe role in helping to test and refine new SkiDoo technology. It’s a deal that makes sense for both parties. CKMP gains access to the latest-and-greatest Ski-Doo snowmobiles to offer its clients. And BRP benefits from critical, real-world feedback from daily abuse by Carl and his guides as they push the limits of the technology in some of the most varied terrain and deep snow that can be found.
It is said that it takes 10,000 hours to learn a trade, but what does it take to perfect a trade? It takes more than just putting in time; one has to obsess over the details to be the best of the best. Every edge, every corner, every contour and every straight line must be analyzed and scrutinized. To say that Carl Kuster has perfected his trade would be an understatement, and he has the race results to prove it. The soft-spoken Kuster has been making noise in silence on a snowmobile for 30 years and counting. Dominating the hillcross and snowcross circuits requires equal attention to detail; one must scrutinize and analyze every second on the course in order to stand at the top of the podium. Kuster has applied the same dedication to his personal passion project: Carl Kuster Mountain Park. CKMP has built a reputation for taking the snowmobile experience to the highest rung on the ladder in terms of hospitality, terrain, equipment and instruction.
To my right, the smells of a good day of riding waft from a forced-air glove and boot dryer that hums along next to a spacious row of guest lockers filled with personal riding gear. The flow of the shop naturally funnels me past the lockers where I am welcomed by a few of the CKMP staff. In just a few moments of chatting, I get a sense that these people are incredibly passionate about CKMP and the experience they provide to their guests. I instantly feel comfortable around these people who I have only just met. A quick tour of the shop reveals a few machines on hoists getting some TLC, a welding and fabrication area, countless tools and other shop necessities. The repair area of the shop is as meticulously clean and tidy as the rest of the building I’ve seen so far: no oil on the floor, no parts strewn around, nothing out of place. The guest accommodation is upstairs, so I head up a flight of wide stairs to a boot room where I kick off my shoes before walking through into the lodge area. It’s dinnertime, and I am enveloped by the kind of exotic aromas you might expect at a high-end restaurant. The chefs pause their preparation to greet me with a warm welcome. A large, open room houses the kitchen, lounge and living room, encouraging clients to interact with one another and staff. Mingling guests interrupt their conversions to say hello, and immediately I am immersed in story swapping and getting to know the other riders. It doesn’t take long for me to feel like I’m at home with family. Guestrooms, which spread out from the living area, are well appointed in a mountain-luxury style with comfortable bed, private bathroom and more than enough electrical outlets for me to charge the 9,731 batteries I brought with me for my various pieces of camera gear.
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 45
Heavy snowfall is common in the Monashees, and the weather has granted us deep, moist, sound-muffling pow.”
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Waking up to the smell of bacon never gets old; after a solid night’s sleep, I shuffle back to the dining table for a first-class breakfast before heading down to the shop to gear up. Guests need only show up to CKMP with their riding gear, the staff takes care of the rest. Each group is assigned their own guide who knows the local areas inside and out. And there are definitely perks to having a guide who knows where the best riding can be found, especially for guests with limited days on snow each winter; it’s important to make the most of a short vacation. Heavy snowfall is common in the Monashees, and the weather has granted us deep, moist, sound-muffling pow. We take turns aboard both the pre-production 2018 Ski-Doo Summit 850 165” and 175” sleds, getting a feel for both and how they compare side-by-side. The 2018 Summit 165” performs like a champ, and claws its way with ease through all but the very steepest terrain on this ridiculously deep day. There are a couple of slopes we would like to drop down, but they are too caked in fresh snow to risk climbing back up on anything other than the 175” Summit. And since we only have one of those, we decide to stick to some mellower aspects. For those familiar with the 2017 Summit 850 Gen4 platform and how it performs, the 2018 Summits are for the most part unchanged. However, BRP has made some
key refinements to the Summit and Freeride models. In particular, the driveline has been revamped; it’s got with a new finned pDrive sheave, revised clutching calibration, new gearing, revised PTO and MAG engine mounts, a new belt and better cooling that should come thanks to a new clutch cover and improved air flow. BRP estimates a belt operating temperature reduction of between 15 and 40 degrees Celsius. For the 175”, some rear suspension hinge points have been moved slightly to accommodate a longer skid. I can’t help but feel that everything I have read about ultra-long track sleds being hard to negotiate through tight trees is a lie; riding the Summit 175” through the trees requires very little input. It doesn’t quite add up how effortless the 175” sled is to manoeuvre when I look back to see a mile and a half of tunnel behind the seat. It’s impressive how easy it is to initiate a sidehill on steep terrain. Even more so, how smooth and effortless it feels once put into sidehill mode; there is no twitching and I don’t feel like it ist about to lose the sidehill. As for climbing, when the sled is pointed uphill, it just keeps going when you think it shouldn’t. The addition of the Summit 175” to the Summit REV Gen4 platform will without a doubt change the way that terrain is accessed with a snowmobile. I can say with confidence that this machine will open up new riding in old areas. As for CKMP, Kuster says that at least half of the 2018 fleet will be 175s.
2018 Ski-Doo Summit Key Features Rotax 850 E-TEC Engine REV Gen4 Platform is narrow with centralized mass and mountain ergonomics RAS 3 Front Suspension is optimized for REV Gen4 Platform tMotion Rear Suspension flexes laterally Powdermax Light with Flexedge track is available in variations of 2.5” or 3.0” lugs in 146”, 154”, 165” and 175” lengths pDrive friction-free driven clutch is responsive and lightweight E-TEC SHOT Starter offers push-button starting without battery or starter motor
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Completely new for 2018 is BRP’s E-TEC SHOT Engine Starter. It’s an electric start system that doesn’t require a starter motor or a battery, thereby eliminating over 10kg of weight. Before SHOT came into existence, snowmobile riders were invariably forced to compromise between lightweight and convenience. But push-button starting comes down to more than just convenience. Sure, pull starting your sled a couple of times doesn’t sound like a big deal, but mountain riders know that they will do it many, many times over the course of a single day. And if they are riding aggressively, they will likely have to do it at absurd angles, on steep hills, against a tree or with the sled nearly upside down. Eliminating 12,862 pull starts in one ride noticeably helps reduce fatigue, allowing maximum pow smashing to be done. We decide to give our SHOT equipped 2018 Summit a little real-world field test. The sled starts 14 times in a row using the magic button—without allowing it to recharge—before it runs out of juice. Success. It’s innovation that makes sense and just plain works.
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Back at the CKMP lodge, we settle in for dinner with the other guests around a large, handmade table. A dinnertime tradition here is to take turns describing the best part of each person’s day; tales of deep pow, great terrain and epic stucks snowball into more stories and laughter. Soon, food coma settles in, and we all disperse to relax. Most guests take turns visiting the in-house masseuse to have kinks worked out from the day’s deep pow and deeper stucks, while the rest settle into the comfy couches or play a game of pool. After a few adult beverages, it isn’t long before we all retire to bed in turn, exhausted from the day of riding. A business isn’t successful without the people behind the scenes, and CKMP has assembled a group of passionate individuals. Kuster leads by example and his staff goes about their daily work with the same dedication to perfection. It’s a team effort, and their collective attention to detail is how Carl Kuster Mountain Park has perfected the trade of motorized adventure hospitality.
GAINING GROUND Riders Take Notice as Measured Innovation Pays Off for Arctic Cat
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Sometimes product innovation comes to market in leaps and bounds. Completely overhauled snowmobile platforms are sexy and can drive sales, but they can also be fraught with complications. In other cases, a manufacturer will make the decision to fine-tune existing technology at a more measured pace. This approach is safer, but is certainly received with less fanfare. Itâ€™s a delicate dance between marketing and engineering, and such decisions are not made lightly. With the release of its 2018 lineup of mountain sleds, Arctic Cat has taken a more aggressive line on the latter approach. The result is a win for riders.
2018 Arctic Cat M8000 Key Features New 8000 C-TEC2 Dual-Stage Injection Engine Ascender Platform with narrower body panels for improved sidehilling capability Drop Rolled Chaincase and Tunnel with 8 tooth drivers 3” and 2.6” Power Claw Tracks available in 153” and 162” lengths FOX FLOAT 3 & FLOAT QS3 front shocks options FOX FLOAT 3 & FLOAT QSDL W/Climb Lockout rear shock options TEAM Rapid Response II and Rapid Reaction clutches Ice Scratchers and Deluxe Digital Gauge standard
Although it’s now been six years since the last major platform overhaul of Arctic Cat’s mountain sleds, it would be a lie to suggest that the manufacturer has been resting on its laurels. Since the first ProClimb model replaced the M-Series back in MY2012, the company has made sometimes big and sometimes small refinements each year, without all the glitz and glamour of producing a completely fresh build. Regardless, like clockwork each spring, the Arctic Cat following religiously proclaims: “This is the best Arctic Cat ever!” This time at least, they’re damn right. Anyone who has thrown a leg over the 2018 M8000 sled will tell you that it is a completely new beast. It’s not vastly different in appearance from its predecessors, but the sled is leaps and bounds ahead of even last year’s models, in large part due to a brand-new powerplant and some complementary clutching innovation. At the forefront of new Arctic Cat technology is the longawaited 8000 C-TEC2 engine. Gone now is the Suzuki-built 800 twin that’s been powering Arctic Cat mountain sleds for years. The 8000 C-TEC2 is a fresh dual-stage injection 794cc engine built in-house at the Arctic Cat factory in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Arctic Cat isn’t making any output claims, other than to say that the 8000 C-TEC2 falls into the 160-hp class. However, on snow it shows an impressive amount of grunt. Low-end
and mid-range torque are markedly improved, and Arctic Cat does go so far as to report increases of 36% and 18% here respectively. Oil consumption is lowered by a claimed 30%. But above all other characteristics, it is incredibly fast throttle response and acceleration that define the C-TEC2 engine. The new TEAM Rapid Response II driven clutch—first made available on 9000 trail models in MY2017—implements a roller bearing on the shaft, which allows the drive belt tension to auto-adjust. The result is a belt that is properly tensioned at all times, reducing slippage and providing instant engagement. The starting ratio has also been lowered by 12.5 percent. These factors work together to deliver buttery-smooth engagement—a characteristic sorely lacking in the past. Ultimately, it’s the combination of clutching improvements paired with crisp throttle response and the increased low-end torque of the C-TEC2 that makes such a vast improvement in drivability of the Arctic Cat mountain sleds for MY2018. The uptick in the M8000’s ability to get up on top of the snow and get moving—especially in tricky situations—really can’t be overstated. It’s a game changer for the brand. Another touted refinement for 2018 is a more streamlined body profile. New easy-on/off body panels have been narrowed by 10%, allowing for better control when sidehilling in the steepest terrain. And make no mistake, the 2018 M8000 performs very well in on its side through tight trees.
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Anyone who has thrown a leg over the 2018 M8000 sled will tell you that it is a completely new beast." A handful of other upgrades to the 2018 M8000 aren’t new at all—in fact they were already available for MY2017, but only in the Mountain Cat model. But Arctic Cat riders will be happy to see those improvements applied across the entire lineup of mountain sleds. Some of those include narrowed running boards and footwells cut out 2 inches farther forward. But the change that works best with the M8000’s new engine and clutching is a dropped and rolled chaincase. The driveshaft is dropped by 1.125 inches, which effectively lowers the approach angle of the track by almost 10%. It doesn’t sound like much, but that makes a big difference in how well the M8000 floats and pops up out of the snow from takeoff. And it makes room for either a 2.6” or 3” lugged track in a 153” or 162” length. Big technology overhauls are a marketer’s dream, but big changes can mean trouble for an engineering department. As we’ve seen over the past half dozen years, measured innovation has been the name of the game for Arctic Cat, and it has paid off. The approach has allowed the company to produce an effective, mountain-slaying machine without sacrificing reliability. And for that reason, mountain riders are taking notice.
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Polaris stays the course with its successful Axys PRO-RMK platform Innovation is sexy. Consumers love it. We want to hear about it and we want to experience it for ourselves. But for a manufacturer, it comes at a huge cost. New technology doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to; sometimes it breaks or malfunctions in unforeseen ways. And it is expensive to develop. Such is the price of maintaining a loyal fan base and drawing new customers. Occasionally, an innovative product breakthrough will leapfrog a company ahead of its competition. That can afford it the chance to take a breath, regroup and focus on the next best step, while everyone else plays catch-up. Such was the success of the Polaris Axys platform back in 2016. Now—two model years later—not much has changed to the deep-snow RMK model, and riders are pretty okay with that. Getting there was not without adversity for Polaris. The first PRO-RMK generation was a huge step forward in terms of weight and handling, but it was also subject to its share of problems. Minor tweaks were made along the way as Polaris engineers worked to fine-tune the chassis. Some were effective while others came at the expense of durability. Riding an early-model PRO-RMK was a compromise between phenomenal handling and so-so reliability. The Axys platform changed that, bringing dependable reliability and somehow even better deep-snow and technical performance to the table. From MY2017 to MY2018 there are no functional changes to the PRO-RMK line-up, and if that tells you anything it should be that Polaris has finally managed to nail the sweet spot between designing the lightest sled and one that you can count on day-in and day-out. Sledders know it as BNG—Bold, New Graphics—when a manufacturer changes only the colour options between model years. In this case, BNG mean something different: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Don’t mess with what works.
2018 Polaris PRO-RMK Key Features 800 Cleanfire H.O. Engine AXYS PRO-RMK is the lightest factory mountain sled Forged Aluminum A-Arms reduce overall weight Series 7.0 3.0” tracks available in 155”, 163” and 174” lengths Series 6.0 2.6” tracks available in 155” and 163” lengths Walker Evans Monotube Shocks option & Piggyback Clicker Shocks option QuickDrive Low Inertia System reduces rotational inertia by 21% for easier handling Optional high resolution, full colour, LCD digital display
How well does it work? For starters, Polaris riders continue to rave about their Axys mountain sleds, even in the face of significant engine technology releases from the three other manufacturers in the last two years. Ski-doo released a new engine in MY2017, the 850 E-TEC, the same year that Yamaha unveiled a 998 Genesis factory turbo. Arctic Cat came to the
PHOTO: DAVE BEST
MOUNTAIN SLEDDER | 55
table in MY2018 with a proprietary new 800-class dual-stage injection C-TEC2 engine that has already garnered rave reviews for output and responsiveness. Yet the Polaris fan base seems unfazed. That speaks volumes about ride-ability of the Polaris Axys PRO-RMK. Detractors argue that it is underpowered by comparison—but even were those claims backed up with numbers, it handles so well that it really doesn’t matter. And there is no question that it is the lightest production mountain sled by far. Mountain riders look at sledding zones with a different eye these days. The sport is evolving, and the way terrain is being used has changed. For the majority of riders, it’s no longer about top speed or making the highest mark. It’s about traversing tight, convoluted terrain for the sake of getting somewhere or just for the challenge of it. Today, everyone likes to dip into the trees at least a little bit—and some riders go there almost exclusively. The manufacturers know this, and they are intently focused on the factors that allow mountain sleds to navigate technical terrain. It’s a wellknown fact that the ability to sidehill effectively and in control is crucial for riding tight trees and gaining access to new terrain. Without a doubt, that characteristic is where every snowmobile manufacturer is looking to improve moving forward. Just like the previous model year, it is incredibly easy to initiate and maintain a sidehill manoeuvre on the 2018 PRO-RMK. The sled feels very comfortable there, and makes it easy to hold a line across a steep slope, even in less than ideal snow conditions. You can get it on its side in a snap for sustained sidehills in spring snow, or to crank a sharp turn in a tight spot. As for the reliability? Well, for MY2018 Polaris offered 4-year warranties on spring orders. If that isn’t a bold statement about the confidence that Polaris has in the reliability of its product, what is? Producing a sled that is fun to ride and simply works as intended is just the kind of innovation that mountain riders love to see. And if that earns a manufacturer the right to stay the course for a year, well, Polaris riders are all right with that.
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PHOTO: ROBERT SIM RIDER: TIM KROW
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PHOTO: JULIE-ANN CHAPMAN RIDER: BRETT TURCOTTE
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PHOTO: WILLIAM EATON RIDER: JEREMY HANKE
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PHOTO: ALLAN SAWCHUCK RIDERS: FELIX-ANTOINE SAVARD, CHRISTIAN GAGNON
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MOUNTAIN MOUNTAINSLEDDER SLEDDER | | 6363
PHOTO: STEVEN MARLENEE RIDER: ADAM ONASCH
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PHOTO: TONY JENKINS RIDER: ROB ALFORD
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THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY... MOSTLY THE UGLY
Many of today’s mountain sledders were not born until the 80s or even the 90s. If you are that young, you not only missed out on a decade of the greatest music ever produced, but you also missed out on mullets and colour-coordinated leather snowmobile suits. I am truly sorry for your deprivation. While it is hard to comprehend someone going through life without knowing that the Beastie Boys fought for their right to party, here are a few other things that this new generation of mountain maulers has missed out on: CARBURETORS WITHOUT ALTITUDE COMPENSATION That’s right, there was a time when we would disassemble our carbs to re-jet them to get the correct fuel mixture as we climbed in elevation. Nothing spells fun like pouring gas all over your hands in the howling wind and then digging under the engine for that screw that you dropped, all while sitting on the side of the trail at 8000’ above sea level. Reading plugs to determine jetting was an art form itself, and we were good at it—mainly because we pulled the plugs and checked them approximately four hundred times a day. As an added bonus, if you got lazy and didn’t change the jetting back on the way down the mountain you would lean out and melt a piston two miles from the truck; but it ran awesome until then!
PADDLE TRACKS Early mountain climbers didn’t have 2.5” or 3” rubber and kevlar paddle tracks to chew through the snow; instead the tracks had lugs
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under 1” tall and we would bolt hard plastic paddles onto the track. These 90° polyurethane shredders of death really chewed through the snow (or anything else they came in contact with including helmets, clothing, limbs and small animals). If the trail got icy you could also have the good fortune of your sled unexpectedly skating sideways with absolutely zero control. Who knew that rock-hard plastic didn’t grip on ice very well? If you were really lucky these paddles would occasionally fly off and tear out a heat exchanger or split your track in half too. Truly good times.
PARKING ON THE FLAT SO YOU DON’T FLOOD THE ENGINE This was another fantastic little side-effect of the carburetor: sometimes if you parked with your nose pointing downhill it would proceed to fill the engine with fuel. Entirely. I mean a flood so bad that you half expected an ark to show up as you watched the raw fuel run out of your exhaust pipe. This was especially true of some of the rotary
Hardships of the Early Days of Mountain Riding BY MARTY ANDERSON
PHOTOS: MARTY ANDERSON JASON ROWLEY
valve engines of the time due to their ability to stop with a port wide open, although the piston-ported engines were not immune to this either. Once this happened you had no choice but to shut the fuel off, pull the spark plugs out, grab the starter cord and yank like you were pulling a grizzly bear off of your sister. Oh yeah, we didn’t have electric start back then either.
REMOVING THE HOOD Back before rider-forward designs revolutionized the sled world, we basically rode a giant bathtub covered by a heavy fiberglass resin hood. We would drill the pins out of the hinges and put in quick release clips so the hood could be taken off easily and left at the bottom of the hill. This resulted in up to 30lbs of instant weight savings as well as a supply of clean, cool air to the engine and clutches. It cannot be understated how big a performance gain could be had for $2.79 in hitch clips. The real pros would also make a bracket to mount the tach up on the handlebars (turned so that your peak rpm was at the 12 o’clock position of course!). Today’s unlucky generation can spend $1000 on an aftermarket hood only to lose less weight than the pizza pockets in their belly. I weep for them.
STEEL SKIS This one is pretty self-explanatory. Before the days of plastic skis you only had two options. Either buy expensive “ski skins”, which were plastic covers to go over your factory steel skis, or just live with the bare metal. As appealing as an all-metal ski may sound to you there is a reason they are only found in museums now: the metal liked to freeze
to the snow when you stopped. You could actually get stuck on a flat trail if you sat long enough to eat your cold, dry gas station sandwich (we certainly never had them new-fangled food cookers strapped onto the muffler). After filling your belly with empty white carbs, soggy lettuce and sodium nitrates it was always good to get the heart pumping again by having to lift your sled up and scrape the ice off of your skis before it would even move. There are many other little nuances that people take for granted now that made mountain riding more challenging back in the day. Less than 5 inches of suspension travel made a cornice drop something you never did intentionally. A big drop more likely meant a trip to the hospital than a spot in your buddy’s shaky camcorder edit. Gore-Tex and other water-repelling clothing were virtually unheard of so we stayed wet and heavy until we sat long enough to freeze stiff. Heated grips were also rare so our wet gloves would freeze in the permanent curl of the handlebar, which honestly made it easier to hold on. On the plus side, we also didn’t have GoPros or cell phone cameras everywhere we went so, much like grandpa’s fish stories, our jumps got bigger every time the story was told—with no evidence to dispute it. The calibre of a riding feat was directly related to how many shots were consumed while telling the story in the pub afterwards. By the time the story was passed down through a couple of people, we clearly had Evel Knievel beat. …Maybe I do miss those days.
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KILLIN’ STORY BY BRANDON WIESENER
Nights become longer and more crisp, foreshadowing the beginning of winter. When snow finally blankets our surroundings, our anticipation of what’s to come builds. But before we ride, there’s preparation to be done: physical and mental. Life is busy—no matter your situation—and it can be hard to make time. But once you commit to training your body and mind, the quality of your ride experience will become exponentially better. Committing to physical fitness will make you a more capable sledder. When your strength and endurance is up,
wrangling a sled all day is easier. Unfit riders will sometimes complain about rough trails. But when you’re physically and mentally prepared, a bumpy trail can be viewed as a challenge to crush, instead of something to dread. Hitting the gym also helps heal old injuries and undoubtedly helps prevent new ones.
Don’t let your age or ‘busy’ schedule be an excuse not to train. Some of the strongest people at the gym are a few decades past
prom. And sure, between work and family life training can be a challenge, but it’s one hundred percent doable. There are many ways to tailor fitness programs to your busy life. Wake up earlier and go for a run. Or do a home workout if that syncs with your schedule better. If you claim that you just don’t have time, try trading stagnant time spent eating bonbons on the couch for physical activity instead. The potential is there so don’t get stuck in a mental rut believing you can’t...you can. Excellence doesn’t come without pain, but when you get a sled unstuck with one deadlift and continue to breeze through your ride day, your friends will be wishing they had put in time at the weight room too.
Mental strength is an equally important skill to hone.
It’s a quality that is often defined by determination, motivation and consistency. Mental strength is about being pushed to the brink without faltering. As hardcore as that sounds, training yourself to be mentally tough doesn’t necessarily require you to be in extreme situations; it can simply involve pushing yourself a little bit further each day. Write down some goals to be completed on a regular basis and do them. While lifting at the gym, push yourself to complete the tenth rep of a set when you’re burning out at nine. Aim to exceed project expectations at work. Or wake up half an hour earlier every day. Mental strength can be learned in everyday life, but it also has to be a choice; you have to choose to rise above the challenges you face and not let them shake you. If you bail a hundred times trying a new move on your sled and nail it on try one hundred and one, you’ve taken your own resilience to the next level.
Here’s a secret for better riding: everyone is capable of what you see in the sled movies, even the craziest stuff. It’s a matter of what you’re willing to handle mentally, your passion to do it and how much practice you put in that determines your accomplishment. Preparation for the beginning of sled season requires more than just buying new gear, dusting off your sled and doing some mechanical maintenance. We all want to progress, to become better people and do great things in life. Committing to your own physical and mental health is a commitment to killin’ it in everything you do, and it will help you grow both on and off the sled. Start now, you’ll be glad you did.
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RIDER COLTON OLSTAD MIGHT HAVE BIT OFF MORE THAN HE COULD CHEW WITH THIS TREE TAP. DID HE STICK IT OR NOT? PERHAPS WE’LL NEVER KNOW…UNTIL NEXT ISSUE!
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PHOTO: DAVE BEST
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Published on Sep 4, 2017