The snocross season on the national circuit started as it has for the past 26 years – with a day of racing at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday shopping plans be damned, the boy and girls of snocross were ready to rock – and while the Pro class won’t have a points race until Saturday night, the Friday action included some high-flying, paint-swapping, controversy-filled action on the bumpy course.
Most notable, defending season champ Elias Ishoel started the season out right – earning the $10,000 first-place check in the winner-takes-all Amsoil Dominator specialty event, which involves setting up racers in a ranked bracket and then pitting them off against one-another in one-on-one showdowns until one person emerges with the big check.
Also, seven classes ran finals on Friday, including Pro Am Plus 30, Sport, Sport-Lite, Jr. 16-17, Jr. 14-15, Stock 200 and Amateur Snow Bike.
Here’s the full rundown (below), courtesy of a PR release from the host ISOC race circuit. Racing continues through the weekend. Make sure to get you picks in for the fantasy-sports-based Snow Goer Snowmobile Racing Challenge game presented by More Freakin’ Power. It’s actually very easy to play, free and fun; picks are due by noon (central time) on Sunday for Sunday’s final, and the person with the top picks could win a valuable gift card from More Freakin’ Power.
Ishoel Opens With Dominator Win
The 2019-2020 Amsoil Championship Snocross, Powered by Ram season got underway with a little bit of drama and a familiar reminder that Ski Doo’s Elias Ishoel can rip around a snocross track.
Fresh off his first U.S. title, Ishoel came into the opening round in Duluth, Minnesota, focused on defending his championship and proving that he’s still the man to beat in the increasingly talented Pro class. First, the Norwegian had to hold off 15 riders in the annual Amsoil Dominator, the head-to-head matchup that kicks the year off and awards $10,000 to the winner, with no prize for second place.
The top eight finishers from last season received the top eight seeds in this year’s Dominator, which included 2017 winner Kody Kamm and 2018 champion Adam Renheim. The trio would be on a crash course towards the final, where the first round of intrigue of the new season would be uncovered.
To get there, they first had to win their head-to-head matchups. As the top qualifier, Ishoel held off John Stenberg (Ski-Doo) in round one, held off an early charge by defending Pro Lite champion Hunter Patenaude and jumped all over teammate Aki Pihlaja (Ski-Doo) in the semi-final.
Kamm entered the Dominator as the number two qualifier and looked smooth on his blacked-out Polaris with an opening round win over Adam Peterson (Polaris). He and Lincoln Lemieux (Ski-Doo) traded paint in the second round and his win put him alongside Renheim in the semi-final. A loss to the 2018 winner meant Kamm had to defeat Pihlaja in an LCQ to make the back row of the final.
Renheim paved his way to the final with wins over Korbyn Anderson (Ski-Doo) and Polaris rookie Oscar Norum. He was set to line-up next to Ishoel in the final, but as the drivers were heading to the starting grid it was announced that Renheim had failed a tech inspection and was disqualified. That meant only Kamm and Ishoel would go head-to-head in the final, with the winner grabbing the big payday.
In the final, Kamm and Ishoel were neck-and-neck down the front stretch with Ishoel grabbing the lead after the first turn. But Kamm pushed back after the big finish line jump, utilizing an inside corner jump to launch into the lead. But Ishoel used patience to retain the lead and Kamm couldn’t mount an identical charge giving Ishoel his first Dominator win since 2016 and offered up an opening salvo to the rest of the field.
“I just tried to stay smart and find my good lines,” said Ishoel after the final. “(Kamm) came into me and passed me and I found a good line up the hill and passed him back. It was a good race and to get the win, it just feels awesome.”
Racing, including round one for the Pro, Pro Lite and Snowbike classes, will begin at 8:30 on Saturday. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 5:30.
Friday Night Notes
· Emeric Perron won the Jr. 14-15 class over Hayden Meyer and Jake Boutwell. Meyer and Boutwell would go one-two in the Jr. 16-17 final ahead of Chance Tietjen.
· Dakota Karkoulas won the Jr. Girls 9-13 final ahead of Naeli Lebel and Kendal Rose.
· Zach Pattyn held off Keven Kelly and Steve Martin the Pro Am Plus 30 class.
· Brian Peterson won his Sport debut, holding off Evan Christian and defending champion Jordan Lebel.
· Raycer Frank took a two-second win over Emeric Perron in Sport Lite.
· Landon Giese held off Ryan Nelson and Wesley Ganchou in the Stock 200 final.
· Wes Van Hook won the inaugural Amateur Snow Bike final.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.