In many places across the so-called “Snowbelt” (so-called because the snow is missing in much of the belt), there are more motorcycles rumbling around than snowmobiles, leading some folks’ minds to wander to thoughts of summer.
That said, a monstrous weekend of snowmobile racing is on tap for March 26-28. The snocross season wraps up with its championship weekend on the famed grounds in Eagle River, Wisconsin, while the high-profile World Championship of snowmobile hillclimb racing gets rolling in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The Snocross Finale
After ending its season for more than a decade in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and then shifting its plans to a planned finale in Michigan this year, snow and COVID-related restrictions resulted in ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross organizers moving both of those events to the site of the annual Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby. That resulted in back-to-back weekends of action on the Derby Complex’s storied grounds.
Normally Eagle River is the site where oval racing champions are crowned, but for this weekend the focus is exclusively on the sky pilots of snocross. They will be soaring and chopping through a rugged course on what is setting up to be a very pleasant weekend weather-wise.
In the Pro class, most of the intrigue over the championship fight has dissipated, as the young Norwegian Elias Ishoel, 22, has run away from the pack and goes into the final weekend with a seemingly insurmountable 81 point lead over second place Francis Pelletier. In theory, if a racer sweeps both of their heats and the final, they can attain 55 points in a day, so with two rounds of racing on tap Pelletier has 110 points to chase on his Warnert Racing, Ski-Doo. However, with even mediocre finishes in his heat races, Ishoel will easily secure enough points on Friday to lock up the title. Only an injury early on Friday could hurt Ishoel’s chances on his Boss Racing Ski-Doo.
There are still a lot of reasons to watch, however, and it starts with a different Scandinavian rider: Swede Oskar Norum, 27, now sits third in points, just 16 points back from Pelletier, after winning his first-ever final in North America last Friday, and then winning again on Saturday on his Hentges Racing Polaris. Looking directly up at him in the points are Scheuring Speed Sports teammates Lincoln Lemiuex (-9 from Norum) and Hunter Patenaude (-26 from Lemieux.
Things are tighter in the Pro-Lite class, where the consistent Adam Peterson from Medford, Wisconsin, on his Team Lavallee Polaris holds a 31-point lead going into the final weekend over Minnesota’s Travis Kern on his Cottew Racing Polaris, with Ski-Doo’s Korbyn Anderson from Michigan third, 46 points behind Kern. A Pro-Lite heat is only worth 10 points, as opposed to 15 in the Pro class, though, so there are only 45 points to chase per day if a rider is perfect.
The biggest bit of intrigue is the fascinating Pro Women’s class! The class has been very competitive and interesting to watch this year, and the top two racers — Marlene Andersen from Finland and Megan Brodeur from Quebec — go into the final weekend tied with 581 points on the season. It doesn’t get any closer than that! One or the other has won each of the season’s 14 rounds: Andersen has 8 wins, Broduer has 6, but Brodeur hasn’t had as many disasters – Andersen’s season includes one eighth place finish and another fifth, whereas Brodeur has been first or second every time except for one sixth place finish in round four.
in the Sport class Evan Christian has an impressive 48 point lead over Beau Tibbetts going into the final weekend. Christian’s been on fire lately — winning three consecutive finals and four of six heats (and second in the other two) in the last three rounds to open his impressive lead. He runs for the North Dakota-based KC Motorsports Polaris team. Meanwhile, Jesse Kirchmeyer has won 25 of 28 motos in Pro Snowbike and holds a commanding 81-point lead in that class, and Andy Lieders has already wrapped up the Pro-Am Plus 30 class after winning 7 of the season’s 8 finals in the battle among the snocross veterans.
There’s Nothing Like Jackson!
The Jackson Hole Hill Climb in Jackson, Wyoming, is truly on of the sport’s premier events. And, this year, after being cancelled by weather some recent years and then COVID restrictions last year, people are more charged up than ever for this annual rite of spring.
Jackson is the true world championship for snowmobile hill climb — the most coveted title in a highly intriguing form of racing that truly tests both driver skill and driver courage on a rugged and dramatic uphill, gated course.
In a normal year, aside from the excellent action on the hill, the Hill Climb is also the center of a huge party that attracts revelers from far and wide. That won’t be the case this year — due to crowd restriction the crowd size is severely limited. But it’s still very much worth checking out online even if you can’t be there in person.
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