The year 2000 was when our modern, technologically dependent lives were supposed to come crashing down, all because computers couldn’t handle four-digit years. It was the year of Bush versus Gore, and Mad Cow Disease, unemployment was at a comfy 4 percent, the St. Louis Rams with their “Greatest Show On Turf” won the Super Bowl and stamps cost a tidy $0.34. It was also the International Year For Cultural Peace, and World Mathematical Year, in case you were wondering.
Album of the Year: “Supernatural” – Santana
Highest Grossing Movie: Mission: Impossible II
Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Johnny Cash – “Solitary Man”
In snowmobiling, it was the year when a 15-year-old kid rocked the world, Millennium edition Ski-Doos were everywhere and new 2001 models were being introduced early in the year. For this and every year in our retrospective, our Snow Goer Snowmobile Of The Year awards will be one year ahead – meaning model year 2001 machines will be honored in 2000, 2002 machines in 2001, etc. – because the seasonality of the sport of snowmobiling doesn’t break well on calendar years.
At The Track
On the race track, then Cat-mounted Blair Morgan was establishing himself as the king of snocross, but a kid labeled “15-Year-Old Phenom” on the cover of Snow Week magazine claimed the gold medal at the ESPN Winter X Games, as the semi-pro racer beat a talented field of pros that included his own father as well as Morgan in the sport’s most high profile event. His name: Tucker Hibbert.
Morgan won the points title, but when fall rolled around and the next race season started, the then-16-year-old Hibbert started his first full season as a Pro by claiming Pro Open at the Duluth National.
In other snocross news, Indoor Snocross became a reality, with major events in Montreal and Minneapolis.
The Snow Week Racer Of The Year, though, was Mike Houle. The veteran oval racer captured his second consecutive Eagle River World Championship in January en route to a near-perfect season – he won all 38 finals he finished; only three DNFs prevented pure perfection. Bryan Dyrdahl won the cross-country I-500, while Corey Davidson earned his third Soo I-500 in a controversial finish. Ryan Zollinger won four Mod classes and the King Of The Hill at Jackson. In the summer, Jeff Fischer became the first person to win the Grantsburg Watercross Championship on a Yamaha. Bill Bickford won the Minnesota Cup at a parity-laced Haydays Grass Drags.
The Year In Sleds
The year started with the shiny new model year 2000 sled zipping on the trails, in the woods and on the mountainsides, but the strange seasonality of the snowmobile industry meant that the 2001 models were already being introduced in January, February and March. And the most notable sled of the 2001 model lineup? The Polaris Indy 600 XC SP – named 2001 Snow GoerSnowmobile of the Year in September of 2000. It marked the introduction of the EDGE chassis and suspensions for Polaris, and was recognized for its superior handling, light (for the time) weight and winning ergos.
Other sleds that cracked the Snow Goer Top 10 were: Arctic Cat Triple Touring 600, Ski-Doo Formula Deluxe 700 GS, Yamaha SRX, Polaris Indy 500, Yamaha Phazer 500 Deluxe, Ski-Doo MX Z 700, Polaris Indy 600 Classic, Arctic Cat ZR 500, Polaris Indy 800 XC SP and Ski-Doo Summit 800 Highmark.
In the fall of 2000, Snow Goer did a series on “The Dream Sleds of the 21st Century” featuring companies attempting to be the “Fifth Manufacturer.” They included the FAST Blade, the Redline Revolt, the cockpit-oriented Trail Roamer, the Scorpion TKX, the AD Boivin Snow Hawk and cutting edge mountain sleds like the Crazy Mountain Xtreme, the Tison Mountain King and the Northern Lites P Zero. We remember sitting around our office saying, “At least one or maybe two of these guys are going to make it and be a major manufacturer.” History would prove that setting up a manufacturing process to become a fifth manufacturer would be tough in a declining market.
This is the year Fox introduced its Zero X shocks, titanium springs were all the rage and billet aluminum was starting to work its way into various products. It was also the first year of the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.