Despite a season that started late and ended early, there is no doubt that the eventual Pro points champion on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series truly was the best of the best this season.
Elias Ishoel of Oppdal, Norway, earned the coveted season high points championship against the world’s best snowmobile snocross racers by being a cut above his competition – earning eight victories in the truncated season’s 12 rounds. Rounds 13-17 of the season were cancelled due to COVID-19 rules related to gathering of crowds.
Perhaps even more impressive than the wins, though, was the consistency – in the four rounds he didn’t win, Ishoel never finished lower than fourth in a final, including having to come through the pack to earn those fourth-place finishes. He wasn’t quite as dominant in heat races – with just 10 wins in 24 heats – and that made the final standings closer than they otherwise would have been, but when the big money was on the line he clearly was a worthy champion and the man to beat on his Boss Racing Ski-Doo for the second year in a row.
Thanks in large part to a late-season charge that included a victory at Deadwood, South Dakota, followed by three consecutive podium finishes at Iowa and then New York, Daniel Benham Jr. of Deer River, Minnesota, finished second overall. Racing his first year on a Warnert Racing Ski-Doo after shifting over to the yellow brand after competing on Arctic Cats in previous years, Benham started the season by finishing 13th in Fargo but never finished worse than seventh after that. Plus, he won 10 heat races over the course of the season.
Lincoln Lemieux of Vermont narrowly edged Aki Pihlaja of Finland for third overall. In a comeback season after a shoulder injury last season, Lemieux earned his solo victory at Shakopee, Minnesota, in January, with his only other podium in Round 11 in New York. But his nine heat race victories allowed him to collect enough points to finish the season in third on his Scheuring Speed Sports Ski-Doo.
Ishoel’s Boss Racing teammate Pihlaja, meanwhile, had two victories and three additional podium finishes, but just five heat wins. Combined, the Boss Racing duo earned 10 of 12 Pro victories in finals – impressive!
If you’re keeping track, you may have noticed that the four aforementioned Ski-Doo racers accounted for all of the season’s 12 Pro class victories (Ishoel 8, Pihlaja 2, Benham 1, Lemieux 1). The racer with the second-most podium finishes, however, hasn’t been mentioned, and he wasn’t on a Rotax-powered machine.
Pro rookie Oskar Norum of Bjurholm, Sweden, ended up fifth in the points standings after amassing six podium finishes, including finishing in the runner-up spot four times during the season on his Hentges Racing Polaris. Oddly, despite often looking like the second or third best racer in the field in several finals, Norum didn’t even see the checkered flag first in any of his 24 heat races. His best years may be in front of him.
The rest of the top 10 were Michigan’s Kyle Pallin (Polaris, three podiums), Minnesota’s Logan Christian (Arctic Cat, two podiums), Trent Wittwer (Arctic Cat) and Travis Muller (Arctic Cat), and then Wisconsin’s Cole Cottew (Polaris). Early season injuries ended the title hopes of former champion Kody Kamm (Polaris), podium regular Adam Renheim (Ski-Doo) and early season surprise Jacob Yurk (Arctic Cat).
All totaled, 27 different racers competed in at least one Pro class event this season.
Pro-Lite Battle To The End
In what looked like it would be an epic battle to the end, Francis Pelletier of Quebec narrowly held off Hunter Patenaude of Vermont in Pro-Lite, winning the season championship by a mere four points: 472-468.
Patenaude got out of the gate strong — winning five of the first six rounds on his Scheuring Speed Sports Ski-Doo in dominant fashion. He appeared to have a victory in Round 7 in South Dakota as well, but it was determined after the race that he had illegally jumped in a yellow-flag zone. By rule, he was moved back three positions to fourth in the final standings, and Pelletier was awarded the victory.
Patenaude won the next night in South Dakota, but he then stumbled to the finish the rest of the way while Pelletier earned victories at Iowa and New York. It surely would have been a battle to the finish, but the season’s premature end left fans wondering what could have been.
Polaris racers Nick Lorentz, Travis Kern and Ryley Bester finished third, fourth and fifth in the season standings.
Brodeur Dominates Pro Women
Despite Ishoel’s impressive season, he wasn’t the sport’s most dominant racer. Instead, that title goes to Megan Brodeur from Quebec. The Ski-Doo racer fell one position short of a perfect season in finals this year, and even won 22 of her 24 heat races to absolutely crush the field in the Pro Women class.
Brodeur spent most of the season unchallenged, winning by wide margins in a somewhat crowded field of racers. After rattling off 11 straight victories in finals, in what turned out to be the season’s last contest she was leading again in round 12 in New York when she crashed on lap four. She gamely remounted her sled and charged toward the front and was snapping at the leader’s snowflap on the last lap, but finished second.
That left her with “only” 528 out of a possible 540 points on the season.
New York’s Jesse Kirchmeyer, meanwhile, defended his points title in Snow Bikes. With the X Games in the middle of the season for the snowbikers, which caused most of the big names to skip the Deadwood rounds, only one racer (William Van Hook) competed in all 24 of the season’s motos. Kirchmeyer, meanwhile, won 11 of the 20 rounds in which he competed, allowing him to retain the No. 1 plate ahead of Yanick Boucher and Harris Huizenga.
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