Snowmobilers weren't the only winter enthusiasts who had to
battle low snow last season-so did the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb
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
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
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
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.