Along with announcing its regular Class of 2023, the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame also announced its honorees for a plethora of specialty award. They honor a time-tested snowmobile club, a dedicated dealership, a skilled groomer operator and an inventive set of brothers who pushed the boundaries of the sport.
Below is the full description of the special award winners, in the words of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. See the regular class of 2023 inductees here. Also in that story, you’ll see details on the September induction ceremony in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
2023 International Snowmobile Club of the Year: Mercer Area Sno-Goers – Mercer, Wisconsin
Award sponsored by Woody’s, American Council of Snowmobile Associations & International Snowmobile Council
The Mercer Area Sno-Goers formed and became active in 1967. They are located in the deep-snow country of northern Wisconsin. To date they have grown to a roster of 897. It is apparent that club members aren’t just local, but statewide and include many active business members and snowmobilers who live in other states.
The club promotes and keeps members engaged utilizing all the various social media platforms, runs ads on local radio stations and online via their website.
The Sno-Goers maintain 220 miles of trail in the southern part of Iron County. The club has 25+ groomer operators who dedicate countless hours grooming on a daily basis to keep up with the heavy amount of snowmobile traffic they experience throughout the entire winter season.
The club is also very engaged with the community in many other ways. They have several fundraising events annually, are members of Mercer Chamber of Commerce, attend town and county board meetings, work with neighboring snowmobile clubs on many projects and are very engaged on a state level at AWSC Conventions and Workshops.
In addition, the club is very youth-orientated, donating $2,500 to local students for scholarships annually. Members of the club are involved in many fundraising events that are not just their own. They also help with local fire and rescue, Mercer School, Mercer Lions Club and more.
The Sno-Goers know that it takes all aspects of a community to be successful and feel it is crucial to give back and assist in all ways possible. The Mercer Area Sno-Goers truly believe in their motto, “Making the best trails better.” It is that mindset that makes them an obvious choice for the 2023 International Snowmobile Club of the Year.
2023 International Snowmobile Dealer of the Year: Interlakes Sport Center, LLC. – Madison, South Dakota
Award sponsored by Snow Goer, American Council of Snowmobile Associations & International Snowmobile Council
Interlakes Sport Center started in 1972 when owners Doug and Steve Koch purchased it. It started out as a motorcycle shop but soon got into the snowmobile business and eventually handled all four snowmobile brands. The dealership currently carry Ski-Doo and Yamaha.
Steve, Doug, Dawn and many of their family members are part of the business. They have a huge collection of vintage snowmobiles and motorcycles on display in a museum-type setting. They helped restore vintage snowmobiles to be raffled off at many events and shows to raise funds for their local snowmobile clubs. They have taken part in countless poker runs, charity rides and donated many prizes, all to support local clubs and the South Dakota Snowmobile Association (SDSA). They have provided booths and auction items at many state SDSA conventions.
Steve and Doug hold Secretary and Treasurer positions in their local club, the Interlakes Snow Roamers. Their club received a SDSA membership award for greatest growth in the state. They have assisted in trail installations annually and have hosted many avalanche classes at their dealership as well as safety classes for youth snowmobilers. A dealership as committed to the continued growth of the sport of snowmobiling makes the Interlakes Sport Center a deserving choice for the 2023 International Snowmobile Dealer of the Year.
2023 International Groomer of the Year: George Bratrude – Alpine, Wyoming
Award sponsored by Arrowhead Groomers, Track Inc., Pisten Bully, & Prinoth, Ltd.
George Bratrude started his snow grooming career in 1982 at the Hogadon Ski area on Casper Mountain in central Wyoming. Then in 1988, he moved to western Wyoming to groom ski slopes at Snow King Resort in Jackson, Wyoming for the next 13 years.
While living in Alpine, George became intrigued with the thought of grooming snowmobile trails on the Wyoming Range Snowmobile Trail System, which begins in Alpine. An opportunity eventually opened in 2000 for George to do some part-time trail grooming, which he did after his full-time shifts at Snow King. This double shift grooming went on until 2013 when George finally began grooming snowmobile trails full-time exclusively in the Alpine area.
It wasn’t long before George became very comfortable grooming snowmobile trails and got extremely good at it. He began providing high-quality trail grooming in some incredibly challenging terrain known for avalanche paths that frequently require dozing. There are portions of George’s trail section that are extremely technical that include a variety of narrow, heavily wooded paths that traverse numerous ridge tops as well as very steep terrain.
George is a dedicated and skilled groomer operator who works tirelessly every night to take a heavily moguled trail and create beautiful silky white ribbon for snowmobilers daily. George literally grooms every night, seven nights a week, starting in December, all winter long. Dedication, talented and extreme commitment to trail grooming – that’s George Bratrude and that makes him the 2023 International Snowmobile Groomer of the Year.
2023 Edgar Hetteen Memorial Award of Merit: Alain and Denis Boivin – Levis, Quebec
Award sponsored by Elmer Cone Family and the Iron Dog Brigade
Alain and Denis Boivin were the founders of AD Boivin Inc. For 25 years, these two brothers and their company paid little attention to the conventional and incremental improvements in snowmobile technologies.
Starting out on their father’s farm working on mechanical systems, they gained an understanding of how things worked and together they engineered improvements on making them work better.
In the early years, Alain and Denis applied their skills to the automotive and snowmobile industry. They built custom race cars and twin track oval racing snowmobiles, converting them to trail friendly sleds. The brothers had a very innovative approach in everything they built, especially when it came to snowmobiles.
In the 1990s they strived to find new technical advances when it came to suspension designs. They built and marketed entirely new kits that vastly improved the performance of other manufacturers’ snowmobiles. Two of their rear suspension designs called the Expert and the Expert X were licensed to Bombardier/BRP in the late 90s. They went on to design monoshock rear suspension designs patterned after ones used in motocross motorcycles.
This same type of suspension design inspired them to build a complete snowmobile. From this technology came the Snow Hawk, the first real modern “snow bike” to enter the snowmobile industry. Since then, the brothers Boivin turned their attention toward developing track systems for ATVs and pick-up trucks.
It was their drive to think differently and ignore conventional technologies. It pushed the other sled manufacturers to develop more and better features for their snowmobiles, which benefited the consumer. It is this kind of “out of the box” engineering that makes Alain and Denis Boivin most deserving of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame’s 2023 Edgar Hetteen Memorial Award of Merit.
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