Changing direction on a snowmobile can be tough enough on
flat ground. Flipping around on a 40-degree slope without getting stuck or
going all the way to the bottom? That’s impressive. We shot this sequence of
former professional hillclimb champion Bret Rasmussen doing a U-turn last
winter. Conveniently, those of us with the camera equipment were stuck in the
bottom of a drainage while Rasmussen demonstrated his techniques.
1. Here, Rasmussen has determined which way he is going to
turn the sled and shifted his body position to that side of the sled. Notice
the track he’s left in the snow. The quick S-turn he’s just coming out of
initiated the sled’s roll into the mountain (in deep powder, that isn’t always
2. Notice Rasmussen’s left foot. He’s actually standing on
the left running board with his right foot. This allows him to get extra
leverage on the sled. He uses the left leg for additional leverage and steerage
while supporting his body with his right leg. As the sled begins to roll up,
his left foot drags farther back behind him.
3. The sled has rolled past its fulcrum point, overcoming
the center of gravity, and is now carving into the hillside. All Rasmussen has
to do from here is control the carve with throttle, steering and balance.
4. At this point, Rasmussen begins to turn the sled across
the hillside. He’s letting gravity and momentum do a lot of the work until he’s
gotten far enough into the turn. If he loses throttle control or his balance
here, the sled will likely right itself and head for the bottom of the hill.
Too much track spin could also result in a washout, with the back end of the
sled sliding down below the nose.
5. Now Ramussen has turned the sled far enough that the
downward slide has stopped. He keeps enough momentum to keep the back end
coming down as the inside ski grabs and turns the nose of the sled uphill.
Throttle control is key at this point in the turn. You just want to feather it
enough to control the track slide without letting it come too far around, or
without letting the outside ski fall back downhill. One wrong move and the sled
is either buried straight uphill or heading straight down—with or without its
6. The downward motion has been transitioned into an uphill
climb at this point. The track is set and has a firm bite in the sidehill, the
skis are pointed in the right direction and Rasmussen is now rolling on the
throttle to make the sled’s motion turn into climbing energy.
7. The turn is complete and Rasmussen is headed back uphill.
At this point you have to correct your body position to prevent the sled from
coming all the way back around. You don’t necessarily have to jump to the other
side of the sled if you are smooth enough, just move your upper body back over
the center of the sled. Keep a little weight forward over the skis to prevent
trenching and getting stuck, since you have no uphill momentum working for you