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Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association News

Published online: Oct 25, 2007 Feature
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Snowmobilers weren't the only winter enthusiasts who had to battle low snow last season-so did the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association.

There are just some things out of anyone's control and RMSHA fell victim to a lack of snow in some venues, forcing the circuit to cancel two races-Wolf Mountain in Utah and Elko, NV. Despite that, though, RMSHA was able to hold six other hillclimbs which attracted hundreds of racers.

RMSHA has scheduled a full complement of races again for this season, hoping, as are the rest of all snowmobilers, a good snow season. Of note are a trio of races. First, Afton, WY, will host two hillclimbs in 2008, one in late January and the other in late February. RMSHA will also return to Elko, NV, in February to race. RMSHA held a successful inaugural race in Elko two seasons ago before last winter's snow conditions axed the race in 2007.

Also noteworthy is the David Shepherd Memorial Race, which will be held at Lost River Powder Mountain, a ski resort that sits on the Montana/Idaho border right off U.S. Highway 93 on Lost Trail Pass. Lost Trail is about 45 miles north of Salmon, ID, and 90 miles south of Missoula, MT. Anyone who has followed professional hillclimbing over the years knows Dave Shepherd's name. He is one of the most successful hillclimbers of all time. Shepherd was killed in an avalanche a few years back and the ski hill where the hillclimb is being staged is about 50 miles from Shepherd's hometown of Jackson, MT. Many of the hillclimbers racing today competed against Shepherd, who raced for Polaris.

There will again be 25 race classes for this race season. RMSHA expanded to 25 classes last year and will offer the same ones for this season. That means there is a class for just about anyone who wants to race the hill, from Juniors to new members to Womens to Semi-Pros and Pros. Generally speaking, there are three divisions in each class: Stock, Improved Stock and Mod. Then, in each one of those divisions is a class such as 600, 700, 800 and 1000. A complete list of race classes is available on www.rmsha.com. 

If you went to any of the hillclimbs last year or you plan on attending one or more this season, you probably noticed some snowmobiles with two race numbers on them. Why two numbers on one race machine? RMSHA made the move last year to allow two racers to share the same sled in the same class. RMSHA president Gregg Anderson explained last year that the move was to help reduce the cost of racing, hopefully making it more affordable for new racers to the sport of hillclimbing. Several racers took advantage of the change.

The three major race teams-Arctic Cat, Polaris and Ski-Doo-are pretty much the same as they were a year ago with very few racers switching teams. Chuck Hogan is perhaps the biggest name to make a switch, going from Ski-Doo to Polaris. Hogan was Racer of the Year two race seasons ago.

Let's start with Team Arctic, which is crowing about its success in 2007 on the hillclimb circuit. Team Arctic riders captured 12 of 19 non-Masters class high points titles. Also, Cat had more top three high points finishers than the other two race teams.

"Matching the success of the past two years won't be easy," Russ Ebert, Arctic Cat race director Russ Ebert said. "But we believe we've got the equipment and the team to do it." The 2008 team includes Ty Free, Todd Tupper, Chance Buckallew, Les Keller, Kyle Tapio, Nels Tapio, Russ Tapio, Nate Zollinger, Russell Frisby, Ben Adams, David Brown, Rob Kincaid, Alan Huntzinger, Casey Jump, Lonnie Keller and Zollinger Racing, which includes Sid, Tony, Travis and Amy Zollinger. Other family teams on Team Arctic's hillclimb roster include the Cheeney, Ottobre and Stone families.

"We have a very talented group of racers that have signed again for this year as well as a handful of new talent that we signed for the 2008 race season," Rick Ward, Polaris' team manager said.

Headlining the team include: Jeremy Osler, Sandy Sletten, Erin  Beukelman, Shane Hart, Dennis Durmas, Jay Stickney, Tyler Crocket, Mike Crocket, Kirk Williamson, Norm Hebert, Dolan Phelps, Cory Markovich, Tyler Ropeleto, Ryan Gould, Dustin Haderlie, Brook Beckstrom, TJ Beckstrom, Tyson Thomas, Lars Anderson, Cole Wilford, Josh Hartlerode, Tyler Erickson, Trevor Erickson, Trent Backus, Tyler Backus, Cody McKinney, Charley Lopeman, Ron Murray, Brett Bateman, Jason Schneiter, Craig Cook, John Wickman, John Wilkinson, Shane Wilkinson and Travis Wood.

Newcomers to Team Polaris' hillclimbing effort include, Keith Curtis, Chuck Hogan, Nick Ropeleto, Tyler Tobin, Brooks Williamson, Renegade Sports and Brady Roundy. Competing in the Women's classes will be Shannon Barngrover, Katie McClure and Shannon Cook.

Ski-Doo also returns with a stable full of racers, many of whom have become household names on the hillclimb circuit.

On top of that, Ski-Doo team manager Mark Thompson said, "All are very anxious for the new sled (Ski-Doo Summit Rev 800R)." Some internal team changes will take place but the names will be familiar, Thompson said. "Some of our Semi-Pros will be moving to Pros. Ski-Doo has a very good lineup for this season."

Here's who to look for on Team Ski-Doo: Vinnie Clark (2006 Racer of the Year), Jason Crane, Rusty Johnson, Kirby Woodard, Scott Barge, Rick Budge, Colton and Carson Ellingsford, Marc Menlove, Mark and Scott Thompson, Rich and Radley Gladfelder, Geoff Rogers, Eric Allred, Kevin Kilroy, Tom Roby and Dave and Brad Sharp.