Expect to see sparks fly Sunday, January 17, when the 58th running of the Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby is settled on a rough and tough high-banked oval track in Eagle River, Wisconsin, that will clearly separate the men from the boys.

     A warm and gray weather period leading up to back-to-back World Championship weekends (vintage and current) made creating a deep-ice track here on the Derby Complex grounds particularly difficult this year despite the best efforts of the talented course-building crew. The resulting track will be immensely challenging for an interesting field of racers in the 2 p.m. Pro Champ 440 World Championship final.   

       Of the 10 racers who qualified for the front row, there’s only one past champion – three-time defending champ Blaine Stephenson. There are definitely championship-level racers to challenge him, however, most notably multi-time national points champ Gunnar Sterne on his Ski-Doo, Stephenson’s Wahl Bros teammate Tom Olson and talented vintage crossover stud Matt Goede. That’s truly the “big four” to watch.  

       With this challenging track and a long final, though, anything could happen. Beres, Bennett and Henke have made W.C. finals before, Manke and Miller were stout in qualifying, and Lepak surprised us in the semifinal. Let’s get to our fictional odds (below). For the record, we’re not covering any wagers or side-bets you make with your friends!

Below you will see pictures of each race who qualified for the front row, along with our fictional odds and comments on each racer as stated on the Snow Goer Tip Sheet that’s distributing on the ground here in Eagle River. Make sure to make your picks in our free, easy and fun Fantasy Snowmobile Racing game, and then check back for the absolute best wrap up coverage Sunday evening. Two more racers will be added to the final in a last-chance qualifying race Sunday afternoon. They will start in a second row, behind these 10.

Blaine Stephenson world champ
He lost Friday to Sterne and crashed into the haybales but then won his semi-final Saturday, but would you bet against the three-time defending champ and fastest qualifier? ODDS: 3-1
Super-talented racer has seemingly won everywhere there are oval races except for here, and he stole the show on Friday. Could this be the year? ODDS: 3-1
Tom Olson snowmobile
Tom Olson of Lodi, Wisconsin, has clearly come into his own. He has great Wahl Bros. equipment and growing confidence. ODDS: 5-1
Matt Goede
Matt Goede of Mayer, Minnesota is a multi-time vintage champ who blew a belt while leading last weekend. He has a strong sled this weekend and knows his way around this track. ODDS: 6-1
Brent Miller (No. 311) of DeKalb, Illinois was the fifth fastest in time trials on Friday and we’re sure if he showed his full hand on Saturday. Could surprise. ODDS: 7-1
Matt Bennett
Matt Bennett (blue No. 233) of New London, Wisconsin. is a 29-year-old vintage crossover racer who DNFed in last year’s final and wants redemption. ODDS: 7-1.
John Henke
John Henke of Amherst, Wisconsin, finished fifth here in 2018 and ran strong at many USSA races the last couple of years. Don’t sleep on him in this final. ODDS: 8-1
Jake Beres
Jake Beres of Milwaukee, Wisconsin made the world championship final in 2018 and his flashy red XCR looked faster with each race on Saturday. ODDS: 8-1
Fred Manke
Fred Manke from Lodi, Wisconsin, was the surprising winner of the third semi-final on Saturday and showed surprising aggression with a last-turn pass on Tom Olson in an earlier heat race. ODDS: 10-1
Griffin Lepak
Griffin Lepak from Hartford, Wisconsin, is a former Kitty Cat and Pro Lite champ. He’s only 19 but the sport’s only four-timer PJ Wanderscheid was young when he won his first one, too. ODDS: 12-1

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