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September 22, 2011
SnoWest Steve Janes Blog – September 22
Looking back into the future
Occasionally as I visit with snowmobilers around the country I hear someone say that the sport of snowmobiling is in decline. The sport isn’t reaching the next generation and as the current “baby boomers” age, there will be no one left to take their place.
Often I hear the younger snowmobilers are good at going fast and jumping … but they don’t know how to actually “ride” a snowmobile in technical terrain.
What is the future of snowmobiling?
Let me assure you that the future is in good hands. For those who think the “next” generation doesn’t know how to ride, apparently you aren’t paying much attention to the next generation.
This past winter, on one of our weekend rides with my close group of hard-core riding buddies, we had a 16-year-old that was tagging along with his older brother. The best way for me to describe this teen was as though I was looking in a mirror and I could see myself back 40 year ago, when at that age I was in my early stages of a snowmobile addiction that has lasted a lifetime.
This boy wasn’t as polished on reading terrain and picking lines. But what he lacked in experience he made up in energy and enthusiasm. There wasn’t a moment during the entire day he wasn’t out on the throttle and tracking up snow. The only time he was off the throttle was when he would bury his snowmobile in the deep mountain powder. And then even before help could reach him, he in the snow, tugging his skis and rolling his sled over and out of the hole.
I was getting worn out just watching.
He was non-stop riding … and non-stop talking about riding for the next two weeks. And he wasn’t alone.
We’re seeing young kids, many out riding with their dads, and getting addicted to the sport we love. Sure there are a lot of other distractions in life for these kids—video games, internet, etc. But once we get them on a sled, once they grasp the concept of carving through the snow and climbing steep hills, you can see in their eyes that these kids have found one of the pleasures in life that they can enjoy for decades.
True, we’ve had some tough years in our industry. Sales have declined and the price of play has greatly increased. But both these factors can be attributed to the weather and economy.
As long as we have snow, and as long as we continue to take our kids out to experience winter, our sport has a bright future to look forward to. After all … I just looked back 40 years in the mirror. Not only did I see my past, I saw a 16-year-old’s future.
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