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October 1, 2008
Over The Top
Keith Curtis leaves his mark at the 2008 World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb
Partying, spectating or racing—Jackson Hole is the place to be every spring. The World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb is the staple of rowdy western snowmobiling that has spilled over to the entire industry. Hay Days pulls snowmobilers from across the North American continent (maybe not Mexico) to Minnesota in the fall and Jackson pulls them back to Wyoming every spring.
If you’re up for some fun, there’s no better place to let loose and enjoy the sport without actually getting your gloves on. There are vendors, pits, mod sleds, noise and plenty of wild sledders. Race fans can rarely get a better show than what the hillclimbers provided this past March. And if you want to prove that you’re among the best of the best, you have to go through Jackson.
The story of 2008 is all about Keith Curtis, a Polaris racer from Montana who swept three out of four stock classes, a King title and the coveted King of Kings crown.
Curtis rode his No. 711 Polaris RMKs to the top quicker than anyone else in Stock 600, Stock 700 and Stock 800. His Stock 600 run was 4.5 seconds faster than Chance Buckallew’s second place run. Curtis had similar but smaller margins of victory in his other two classes. His only falter came in the Stock 1000 class where he took fourth place with a mark. Canada’s Vincent Clark was the only racer to clock a time in that class.
As Sunday’s finals progressed into the King runs, Curtis showed his metal. Winning three classes gave him three chances to set the fast time for the Stock King of the Hill title. You would think that a guy who just finished his Stock 1000 run would be a bit tired, but Curtis did three runs in the span of just a few minutes. And did he get progressively slower? No, his winning run came at his last chance to win the Stock King title, posting a 1:06.064 run—the fastest run in any stock class of the weekend.
A few minutes later, Curtis lined up against fellow Kings Les Keller (Improved Stock King) and Kyle Tapio (Mod King). Curtis, who was the last of the three to make his run, posted a 1:08.628-second run to the top of the hill, winning the coveted King of Kings crown.
Tapio didn’t have too bad a weekend himself. In one of his Mod class runs, Tapio made a mistake and slipped off the uphill side of the sled’s running board, causing the sled to come to a complete stop as he was heading across the lower part of the mountain. Tapio regained composure, got things going again and laid down a lightning fast time over the top.
Parker Brown carved his name into Jackson Hole history, making the fastest-ever run over the top of Exhibition run. Parker took his Mod 800 entry to the top of the mountain in 56.419 seconds. A flawless run that beat every other time set that weekend by nearly six seconds.
Nels Tapio beat brother Russ to win Mod 600.
National snocross pilot Steve Martin showed he remembers a thing or two about mountain climbing by winning the Mod 700 class by a 5.5-second margin.
Keller won Improved Stock 1000 with a mark before taking the Improved Stock King of the Hill title over IS 600 winner David McClure, IS 700 champ Trent Backus and IS 800 winner Norm Hebert.
Pro Masters wins were split between Tom Roby, who put down a quick and nimble 1:06.00 run over the top in Pro Masters Stock. David Sharp beat Roby by a second in Pro Masters Improved Stock, while Tony Ottrobre put a higher mark on the hill than Darin Gould and Charlie Lopeman in Pro Masters Mod.
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