World Championship Field Is Set; Who Will Win?

EAGLE RIVER, WI — The front row for the Eagle River World Championship is now set, as 10 drivers have now qualified for snowmobile racing’s most coveted prize.

Defending champion Matt Schulz is going off at 3-to-1 in our fictional odds, bested only by PJ Wanderschied.

           The star-studded field includes four former champion who have a combined 8 championships between them, and the man at the top of everybody’s list is three-time champion P.J. Wanderschied on his No. 28 Arctic Cat.

            The racer out of Sauk Centre, Minnesota, is attempting to become the first ever four-time champion. He won at this track in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and has a hot new sled custom-built with this race and this high-banked race track in mind.

            The field also includes two two-time champion.

Nick Van Strydonk (13) was surprisingly strong on his Polaris-powered mod. He could pull the upset.

Gary Moyle of Houghton, Michigan, earned the top prize here in 2005 and 2007, but he’s been fighting some gremlins this weekend, including in his semi final on Saturday, when he thinks he sucked in a reed and said he felt fortunate to hold onto third place and advance to Sunday’s final.

Bryan Bewcyk of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was the World Champion in 2008 and 2009, but he hasn’t been terribly competitive since. He’s back this year with a young teammate, Travis MacDonald and his fast No. 8 Ski-Doo-powered Champ 440 sled.

The other returning champion is last year’s big winner – Matt Schulz of Wausau, Wisconsin. He was the fast qualifier in Thursday’s time trial and won his semi final race here Saturday afternoon.

Saturday's racing included many close semi-finals, including this battle between, from left, Bryan Bewcyk, Brandon Johnson and Gary Moyle.

At Snow Goer, for years we have set the fictional odds at the race track on our Snow Week and then Snow Goer Tip Sheet. Thousands of copies are printed and distributed at the track, but here’s the inside scoop for you – our loyal Web visitors. As you see, Wanderschied goes in as the man to beat, but it really is a fast field this year.

  •  P.J. Wanderschied, #28         2-1
  • Matt Schulz, #38                        3-1
  • Gary Moyle, #66                        4-1
  • Malcolm Chartier, #33            4-1
  • Brandon Johnson, #22            5-1
  • Nick Van Stydonk, #13            6-1
  • Travis MacDonald, #8             7-1
  • Joey Fjerstad, #16                    7-1
  • Bryan Bewcyk, #39                   8-1
  • Spencer Graf, #97                    10-1

Two additional drivers will be added in a last chance race on Sunday afternoon, and they will start in the second row. Some notable omissions from the field at this point:

  • Wahl Bros. Racing’s Dustin Wahl crashed hard while leading his heat race Saturday afternoon and was sent to the hospital for X-rays on his hand. He was super fast, but he is out. Teammate Brandon Johnson will have to carry the banner for the Wahl team on Sunday.
  • Three-time champion Jacques Villeneuve crashed out in his semi final, but he’ll have a chance to make a run for the final on Sunday.
    Eagle River has more than oval racing; Ross Martin is the favorite in Pro Open Snocross on Sunday.

Check back on our Web site tomorrow for a full rundown on the race, and check back during the week for photo blogs and behind the scenes details from the 48th Annual Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby.

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