It’s been stated on a couple of Facebook pages recently that 20 years ago on Thanksgiving weekend, Ski-Doo’s game-changing REV chassis made its debut on the snocross course in the hands of Blair Morgan.
Those reports are false.
Truth be told, the annual season-opening snocross race at Duluth, Minnesota’s Spirit Mountain ski hill wasn’t held on Thanksgiving weekend that year – the event was delayed when the warm hands of Mother Nature’s held off Old Man Winter. Once a track could be built, the event was held December 7-9, 2001, in Duluth. So while the REV was supposed to debut on Thanksgiving weekend, it didn’t. Consider that in your next trivia contest with fellow sledheads.
Now for trivia fact No. 2: Snow Week/Snow Goer editor at the time Eric Skogman had to “play stupid” in his story when mentioning the machine that Morgan was riding in Duluth. He and I had actually ridden the REV chassis a week earlier in Utah in an exclusive sneak-peek with Ski-Doo officials, but we had each signed what’s called an “embargo agreement,” whereby we promised to keep Ski-Doo’s secret for about another six weeks. If we broke the embargo, per the legal copy that we signed, Ski-Doo would have basically owned our homes, cars, and rights to either of our first-born children. There was also some clause about public decapitation, I believe.
So, standing at the Duluth race, we could see/hear everybody oohing and ahhing about the strange-looking contraption that Morgan (who was also making his first appearance after switching from Arctic Cat) and a couple of other hand-selected Ski-Doo racers were riding. But we couldn’t hint or otherwise tip our hands that we knew anything about what would be the base for the 2003 MXZ REV. As information seekers/providers, it put us in a very odd spot: Normally we would have interviewed people and done a bunch of speculating as to whether what we were seeing on the track was something that one day might make it into production trail sleds. But, considering we had already ridden pre-production versions of those trial sleds, we had to stay mute, and frankly let our competition do all of the cool speculating! Sometime it actually sucks to be “in the know.”
In his writeup in Snow Week, Skogman merely said, “Ski-Doo’s Open sled has an A-arm front suspension, a sculpted seat and some trick features. Only a handful of Ski-Doo racers were running the Open sled, and it proved to be viable.” Everything else was considered off-limits. Three REV-based Open sleds made the front row in the final: Blair Morgan, Carl Kuster and Brad Pitlik. Morgan finished second in the class on the REV, one place behind Tucker Hibbert and directly in front of Michael Island.
And that leads us to trivia fact No. 3: The first major Pro victory that was earned on a REV chassis came two weeks later, and it happened INSIDE a building. This was the era when the Indoor Super Snow Cross circuit was operating somewhat in competition with the World Snowmobile Association (WSA), and it held its season opener at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. We still couldn’t officially ask Blair Morgan about the sled he was riding, and he technically couldn’t answer any questions about it if we tried. His teammate Carl Kuster grabbed the holeshot in the Pro Open final but Morgan stole the lead in the first turn and pulled away to an easy victory.
And finally, trivia fact No. 4 about the REV: The first REV to ever grace the cover of Snow Week magazine did not belong to Morgan. Instead, it was Tomi Ahmasalo’s breakthrough victory at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, on January 13, 2002, that brought that honor to Ski-Doo.
More weeks passed, and finally in late January the embargo was lifted and we could speak freely about the chassis that would soon change the sport.
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