December, 2013

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Dec 1, 2013 ... 2013 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. up to $1,000 ... ALASKA HOUSE OF YAMAHA .... Clymer might have the manual.

December 2 013

Holiday Hot List

SnowRider’s gift guide

Winter Project

Local producers aim for the big screen

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2 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 • E3655_YMC_FALL_FOCUS_AK_Snowmobiler_FA.indd 1

9/17/13 2:09 PM • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 3

Volume 24, Number 2


John Woodbury

S ALE S & M ARK E TING D IR EC TO R Jill Tillion

O FFICE M AN AG ER Kathy Seward

Kevin Hite ASSA President

E ditor

Growing the grooming Statewide snowmobile registration funds much-needed program


inter finally came to our part of Alaska. As I am writing this, the first snowfall of the season has dropped anywhere from 2 inches to a foot of snow here in Southcentral. We have struggled through one of the warmest falls on record with rainfall taking the place of the snow that we normally have on the ground by now. Now we know that we have all tuned up the snowmobiles, gotten the trailers ready for immediate use, dug all of our winter gear out of the back of the closet and are just waiting on the first available place to take that first ride. Depending on where you live in this state, generally the first rideable spot to make tracks will be a backcountry spot where no trails have been groomed or staked yet. Those of us who make those first tracks are officially designated “morons who keep us in business.” This moniker is given to us by our friends who man the parts counters at our dealerships. That label is earned by the rocks and stumps that we discover before anyone else finds them. Unfortunately, we generally find them with our A-arms, trailing arms and other semi-rigid parts of our sleds. For those of you who are smarter and/ or more patient than we are, the groomers are your best friend. They are the ones who groom, mark and maintain the trail systems in our area of the state. As soon as it is safe enough and there is enough snow to begin, they are out on the trail systems making sure that those systems are safe and ready for use by the majority of snowmobilers who either primarily use the system for riding or those of us who use the trail system to get far back into the backcountry to find untracked areas. Those groomers who are out there are some of the best resources that snowmobilers have in regards to development, maintenance and

local knowledge of areas that we recreate in or utilize for activities ranging from sightseeing to freighting equipment and materials. Alaska’s Point of Sale Registration Program is the funding mechanism for these groomers to recover some of the costs associated with trail maintenance and signing. The $5 per year you pay to register your snowmobile is the primary funding source for the grooming program in Alaska. As you can imagine, this funding source is barely enough to keep this program functioning. There are several proposals in the mix to increase this funding to a point that will ensure a continued and expanding program. We will be expanding on those proposals during the season and will use SnowRider to keep everyone up to date with the proposals from the organizations you have chosen to participate in and to support. This is the only program in the state that, at this point, is totally funded by the users of the program. Going forward, we will be exploring and advocating increasing this funding source. Part of the challenge that we face is the organization and administration of this program. ASSA’s strong partner clubs have provided tremendous input and ideas to build on. We will continue to advocate for a strong program and intend that, under proper administration, this program will expand to include a statewide safety program as well as an expanded trail grooming and creation mechanism to facilitate a statewide Trail Program as well. Stay tuned here, as we move forward, your input, support and participation is critical. — Kevin Hite

4 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

Andy Hall

M A N A G I N G E ditor Melissa DeVaughn W riter

Justin Matley

L AY O U T A N D D E S I G N Mike Kirkpatrick G raphics Mike Kirkpatrick Alaska Adventure Media 6921 Brayton Drive, Suite 207 Anchorage , Alaska 99507 (907) 677-2900 • Fax: (907) 677-2901 [email protected] ED ITO RIAL CO NTAC T John Woodbury

(907) 677-2900 [email protected] Published by Alaska Adventure Media under exclusive written contract with the Alaska State Snowmobile Association. The appearance of advertising in this publication does not constitute endorsement by ASSA or Alaska Adventure Media of the products or services advertised. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. ADVERTISING RESPONSIBILITY: All advertisements are accepted and published by the Editor/Publisher upon the representation that the agency and/or advertiser will indemnify and save the Editor/Publisher/ agents harmless for any loss or expense resulting from claims or suits based upon contents of any violation of right of privacy, plagiarism and copyright infringement. Contents of the Alaska SnowRider are not the official viewpoint of Alaska Adventure Media or their agents. Alaska SnowRider is the official publication of the Alaska State Snowmobile Association, P.O. Box 240405, Anchorage, AK, 99524-0405. Permission in writing from the publisher is required for any reprint or reproduction of this publication. ASSA and Alaska Adventure Media reserve the right to revise, edit or reject any advertisement or editorial. DEADLINES: All advertisements and news are due by the 10th of each month prior to publication. O n the co v er : Cory Davis rides the

backcountry at Lost Lake.

C ourtesy H ybrid C olor F ilms • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 5

The holiday

hot list

Gift ideas worth every penny for the snowmachiner in your life


ou’ll have to do your job, make some money and foot the bill for your Christmas shopping, but SnowRider has taken on the burden of coming up with gift ideas. Leave the head-scratching to us. From stocking stuffers to survival training, you’ll want to pull out your pen and paper and take notes.

Bare Necessities Fun snowmachining begins with comfort, and comfort starts with socks. Riders should have socks that won’t slide down or bunch up, that keep feet dry and are durable to withstand hard riding and friction. Look for over-calf, wool blend socks suited to the task. Here’s just one example.

Snow Moto Pro socks by Wigwam r e ta i l : $22 Next up for riding comfort is the base layer, something lightweight that acts as a barrier between skin and outer garments, wicks moisture away and potentially covers the neck from wind chill. Some even reflect heat back to the body. Almost all sports clothing manufacturers make base layers. Find Paradox base layers at Costco for around $20 each for shirt or pants. Hot Chillys would be a step-up in overall quality, options and cost. Then there’s something like Columbia’s Omni-Heat base layers below. Omni-Heat incorporates reflective dots on the inside of the garment. It acts like a space blanket, but still lets moisture pass.

Men’s Midweight ½ Zip Baselayer with OmniHeat by Columbia r e ta i l :





Films Films make a great stocking stuffer for kids or adults. You may want to do a little pre-screening depending on the film and how young or impressionable the kid is. Most films feature extreme riding that, although entertaining, is better left to professional riders. We featured films in last month’s issue of SnowRider, many to choose from. You may be more interested in:

6 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

By Justin Matley

Schooled 5 by Deviant Sled Productions 509 Films 8 by 509 Films Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure by Schooled Films Fourcast 3 by Highmark Films r e ta i l :


Books & Maps Would your loved one appreciate something to read in the john? Probably. What about a coffee table book or something to have on the shelf in the man cave? There are many books focused on snowmachining as a hobby, snowmachine memorabilia, vintage machines or the history of snowmachines. And the most valuable book of all is the repair manual for your particular sled. Clymer might have the manual you’re looking for, or drop the big bucks for a factory service manual. Check book stores and your local dealer. r e ta i l :

$20-$80 Trail maps will really help your rider get the most fun out of winter. The best part is they’re free thanks to SnoTRAC. Have them printed and laminated at a local business print shop. SnoTRAC trail maps can be downloaded from the SnowRider site, http://ridealaska. c om/a r c h iv e/s no w m a c h i ne trails. Or, check with local clubs for specialized maps for sale. r e ta i l :

Free online

Passenger Comfort Looking to improve your “together” time? Riding twoup is fun, but the back seat rider can get tossed around (or off) pretty easily. Give him or her a little something to hold onto with

such products as ProGear’s fanny packs. Some systems incorporate waterproof pouches. All can be used year-round for snowmachining or motorcycling. r e ta i l :

Support Local We shouldn’t have to tell anyone to shop local, but in the event you don’t know of a gift that is locally produced, consider these ideas.


Wear Parts Nothing lasts forever, especially your sled’s ski skins, runners, or track. A simple visual inspection should tell you whether one or all of these items would make a good gift this year. The runners are the metal bars or ridge running down the middle of the underside of the skis. Are they getting flat? Ski skins are made of plastic and cover the underside of some skis. Are they cracked or scratched to bits? And the track, is it cracking, losing rubber or perhaps could use larger paddles? Take a look.

Runners | r e ta i l : $25-$100 Skins | r e ta i l : $45-$65 Track | r e ta i l : $350-$1,000

Safety Another simple stocking stuffer is a survival kit. It can fit in the snowmachine storage compartment or a day pack. When in need your safety-conscious rider will be able to start a fire, signal for help, navigate and stay warm in the space blanket.

Klim S.O.L Survival Pak r e ta i l :

$26 A lot of people would like to think they could hack it in a survival situation, but the fact is survival either takes dumb luck or practiced skill and knowledge. Unfortunately, you can’t always count on luck. Consider purchasing survival training, especially winter survival. At the very least pay for a wilderness first responder course and/or first aid training. Homer Wilderness Leaders (HoWL) is geared toward youth with classes for ages 8 to 21. There’s a specific winter camping course and many others to encourage leadership and the development of outdoor skills, Or consider an outfit like Alderleaf Wilderness College in Washington with short weekend courses up to 10 month long programs. They focus on edible plants, tracking, survival, even sustainable, eco-friendly living,

Luggage and Clothing by Nomar of Homer owned by:

Kate Mitchell online shopping: Since 1978, Nomar (then Mitchell’s Marine Canvas & Upholstery) has supported the needs of rugged fisherman with tarps, canvas products and upholstery work. They also manufacture durable, waterproof luggage. Choose between Cordura and Seatarp, 18-ounce, heavy-duty, waterproof vinyl that stays flexible to minus-20 degrees. Sounds like the sort of stuff you’d haul around while snowmachining! Nomar also uses Polartec fleece and neoprene to make jackets, hats, gloves and other clothing suited for the Alaska outdoors. Need a waterproof gun scabbard in any color of your choice? They make that, too, as well as upholstery for your torn snowmachine seat, a snowmachine cover and more. w hy we love it:

Luggage that can take a beating, clothing made by and for people who demand results, and a number of other services that we’ve all needed at one time or another. Check it out online. price ex amples:

Gear bags and round duffels from $60, weatherproof gun scabbard at $109, various clothing and gear from $20 to $290.

Survival course cost: e x p e c t t o p ay f r o m


on any given course

Shop & tools Humans invented wheels and levers for a reason, to make life easier and save our lower backs from pain. Consider a shop dolly to move those sleds around.

(c o nt. o n pag e 8 ) • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 7

(c o nt. f r o m pag e 7)

Adventure Appetites ready-to-cook meals owned by:

Dan Oberlatz and Aaron Fetter o p e r at i o n m a n a g e r : Bryan Caenepeel online shopping: After years of rave reviews for food prepared during Alaska Alpine Adventures guided trips, owners Dan Oberlatz and Aaron Fetter decided to put their meal kits into the mainstream marketplace. Operated by Bryan Caenepeel, Adventure Appetites provides customers with numerous breakfast, lunch and dinner meal combos they can order online for delivery or pick-up. They’re not tasteless rehydrated foods or MREs with loads of preservatives. These meals are kits with healthy ingredients that taste great, and take the hassle out of meal planning. For that weekend ride, weeklong trip to Arctic Man or anything else you have planned in the backcountry, say goodbye to all the shopping and packing and hello to home-cooked quality. Watch the full story online.

Shop Dolly | r e ta i l : $130-$450 Roller Dolly Set | r e ta i l : $30-$100 Trailer Dolly Set | r e ta i l : $60-$200

Something You’d Never think of If you know someone who rides an off-road motorcycle in the summer, and dreads putting it away when winter comes, you could become their savior… if you’re willing to drop some big bucks. There are a few options for putting a snow track on a motorcycle, and after a few years of development and a little competition these units are looking to be a more viable, reliable option for winter riding. Various tracks are made by Timbersled, SnowXCycle, Explorer, 2Moto and others. Northern Power Sports in Fairbanks happens to be a Timbersled dealer.

Timbersled 2Moto Radix r e ta i l :


why we love it:

As Caenepeel puts it, Adventure Appetites meals make meal planning and packing easy, but you still get to enjoy the process of cooking it up and eating something that tastes great. Expert guides create these kits, and the pricing is fantastic, too. price ex amples:

Reindeer Sausage Gouda Scramble Wrap breakfast, $8; Teriyaki Beef Noodle dinner, $9

Haber’s Eliminator anti-fog air circulator for goggles owned by:

Steve Haber of Homer online shopping: Haber, who already manufactures goggles and sunglasses, has created a small device that attaches to your current goggles or new Haber goggles, and circulates air when moisture is detected. He said Iditarod musher Martin Buser has used the device, which helped him to see his dogs when feeding them on the trail at minus 30 degrees. Haber is also now supplying at least one major oil company in Alaska with a model for use on jobsites. Haber Eliminators can be purchased online, and they easily fit into any stocking. w hy we love it:

Are you kidding? No more fog at cold temps! You can see, which is a priority in most activities. price ex amples:

$65 plus the cost of a AAA battery (which should last 51 hours)

(c o nt. o n pag e 9 )

8 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

(c o nt. f r o m pag e 8 )

Club Membership SnowRider can’t stress this enough. A club membership is an awesome gift, especially for anyone looking to jump in on group rides and explore Alaska’s backcountry safely, with a guide and other experienced riders. These club trips are only available to club members, and the memories are worth every penny. w h e r e : Each club posts club information on their website. Find a listing of clubs online, club-listings. general



$20-$35 with slightly higher costs for

Alaska State Snowmobile Association Officers President & Southcentral Rep. Kevin Hite, Anchorage 522-6373 Vice President Vacant Treasurer Brant Grifka, Eagle River 694-3458

Committees ASSA Convention & Trade Show Kevin Hite, Anchorage 522-6373

Membership Cindy Hite, Anchorage 522-6373 Board Members

Public Relations Vacant

Central Representative Glenn Swan, Eagle River 694-8747

Alaska Snow Rider Steve Wilhelmi, Anchorage 567-3215

Western Representative Vacant Southeast Representative Vacant

Raffle Kevin Hite, Anchorage 522-6373

Interior Representative Stephen E. Enochs, Fairbanks 452-5845

Access Chair Joe Gauna, Anchorage 243-6776

Kenai Peninsula Representative Vacant

contact ASSA Hotline: 566-0210

Industry Representative Bruce Friend, Anchorage 349-8575

ASSA Hotline Toll Free: 1-888-825-7669

Business Representative Nick Olzenak, Anchorage 277-1741

VuVantage camera mount system for 3rd person perspective filming owned by:

Roger Dean online shopping: POV video cameras are becoming more popular and in themselves are a neat gift, but owners often discover the same thing that Roger Dean, creator of VuVantage, experienced. The video often looks shaky, boring and doesn’t really engage the viewer. In his effort to create a camera-mounting system that would improve his snowmachining and adventure videos, and create films that his wife was willing to watch, Dean developed VuVantage. He first created his mounting system from obtainable parts. When riders at Arctic Man began asking where they could get one, he decided to manufacture on a serious level. The mount consists of lightweight, carbon fiber tubes connected by rubber-coated ball joints. This flexible arm is attached to a plastic frame that fits inside your hydration pack or daypack. Put your camera on the end and you now have video staring YOU, as if the viewer was right behind or to the side watching every move. It’s much more engaging and tells the full story of the adventure. Watch VuVantage videos on and the cool factor is obvious. w hy we love it:

Finally we don’t have to be annoyed when someone wants to show their GoPro camera footage. With VuVantage it looks sweet! The coated ball joints also cut down on shake. price ex amples:

VuVantage combined backpack and pole mounting system, $175

ASSA Website:

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(907) 677-2900 | [email protected] • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 9

Off the


Local businesses rally to back filming of unbelievable snowmachine riding skills By Melissa DeVaughn

Courtesy Hybrid Color Films


hen you watch those snowmachine films that document riders leaping from cliffs that seem endless and landing in 10 feet of powder that seems limitless, it’s easy to imagine that it’s not real. But it is – and a local production company, Hybrid Color Films, is working to make their own documentary showing some of Alaska’s best riders doing their thing in some of Alaska’s most breathtaking locations. The backcountry documentary, for now called “Winter Project,” has been using an online fund-raising program called Kickstarter to help them fund the documentary, which producers promise will be an eye-popping experience. So far, local businesses, including Alaska Mining and Diving Supply, Inc. A2DSledworks and Featherlite have pitched in. As of the middle of November, Hybrid Color had raised more than $55,000 with 237 backers helping them out.

10 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

“For a company like Alaska Mining and Diving Supply to come on board is monumental,” said Hybrid Color Films producer Travis Smith. “Being the biggest Ski Doo dealership in the world, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.” “To top it off, we even have smaller local businesses such as A2D Sledworks and Featherlite chipping in, which is great because that means big and small companies alike believe in us, our story, and the athletes we have on board.” Smith said “Winter Project” is going to be unique from other snowmachine documentaries in that 85 percent of the story will be based on Alaska riders, and it will all be shot in Alaska locations. The documentary not only will show incredible footage showing these riders’ mad skills, but will also delve into the lives of Alaska snowmachine riders and what makes them tick.

“We’ve been crafting our story around what has happened since Day One in the backcountry free-riding scene,” Smith said. “This involves all of the early riders – Paul Thacker, Jay Quinlan, Jimmy Blaze, and even Cory Davis as a young kid. “The early filmers, Giles and Sebastian Landry of Turnagain Hardcore, and Aaron Von Hessinger and Andy Baugh play a major role in this also.” Up and coming Alaska riders, like Tim Beckner and Joey Junker, also will be featured, he added. Smith said he was “blown away” by the enthusiastic response by companies willing to financially back Hybrid’s current “Winter Project.” The Kickstarter website projected a $140,000 cost for the project, but Smith said to do it right, they’ll realistically need $215,000. “If we fall short our first round (on Kickstarter), we will launch a second time,” Smith said. “If we are successful the first time, we will still be seeking additional support.” Smith said the film’s overriding goals will be to promote a positive influence on snowmaching films, to take a closer look at the personal lives of Alaska’s best riders, and to create a documentary that captivates riders and nonriders alike. There even will be a segment filmed in cooperation with Chugach National Forest’s Avalanche Information Center to help educate snowmachiners on avalanche dangers and how to mitigate them. Also, Smith pointed out – Hybrid Color Films producers are riders themselves and get the sport better than most – “They’re riding it, why not film it and share Alaska’s glory?”

Courtesy Hybrid Color Films

(ABOVE) A snowmachiner explores the backcountry on a bluebird day. (OPPOSITE LEFT) Cory Davis flies through the air at Turnagain Pass.

For more information on the project or ways to support it visit or contact Travis Smith at 907-903-0440. • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 11

12 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 • • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 13

Riding the trails

SnowTRAC funding for grooming only is a short-sighted effort

By Debra McGhan

The mystery is why state officials claim that ‘Safety Matters,’ yet do not put priority to funding, supporting or building any kind of winter safety program in a state that has winter more than half the year. For the past nine years, the North America Outdoor Institute, a not-for-profit organization run by concerned parents, outdoor professionals and everyday citizens, has worked to build such a program. This statewide program is one that is comprehensive and delivered in a fun, interactive format that makes it easy to learn and retain practical, simple skills for traveling, recreating and working outdoors. It’s a progressive program that reaches young and old, novice and veterans in schools and communities from Juneau to Fairbanks to Anaktuvuk Pass. And it has been done on a budget of between $15,000 (first year) to $150,000 (2012) thanks to volunteers and generous staff and board members who know it matters and makes a difference. These are people who are willing to sacrifice and share because they care and want to see their friends and neighbors live to ride another day. Courtesy NAOI Courtesy NAOI

Riders head into the hills on the Hoodoo Mountains. It is important to be prepared for wilderness safety when traveling in the backcountry.


ast month, I learned that the Alaska Division of Parks SnowTrac Grant, which is funded by your registration fees, had recommended not to fund any safety programs for the coming year. Instead all of the money was to go to grooming trails. My first thought: That’s a great thing if you ride the trails. But what about everyone who rides the swamps, lakes, tundra and mountains? Fortunately, in late November Alaska State Parks director Ben Ellis amended the plan, appropriating $15,000 for safety programs. Still, the issue highlights the need to keep safety in the forefront. What about those riding the trails who find themselves deep in the wilderness and suddenly confronted by a challenge they don’t have the skill, knowledge or equipment to address? Maybe you’re with a group of friends riding along a trail at the base of a slope when an avalanche suddenly breaks loose and part of the group is buried under 10 feet of snow. Or what if you round a corner on the trail only to find yourself forced to dodge another sled barreling toward you? And what if that sled clips your leg and severs it off just below the knee? These incidents are not fiction. They actually happened to real people. In one case the first rider in the group died because he was not wearing an avalanche transceiver and no one with him knew exactly what to do. In the other case, the rider survived only because he was riding with skilled friends who did know what to do. They saved his life. Alaska ranks No. 1 in the nation for avalanche and snowmobile fatalities per capita. In a state with the fewest people recreating, and given that we know education makes a difference, this statistic is a travesty that could be changed with proper training. 14 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

(Above) Chance Meade helps his friend Joel Johnson after a snowmobile crash.

(Below) Loading up for field training with North America Outdoor Institute.

Courtesy NAOI

Keeping the doors open at NAOI has never been easy. But because safety does matter to those of us involved with NAOI and the Alaska Avalanche Information Center, we have joined together, ignored the skeptics and fought on. The fight is continually difficult. This year, thanks to support from private industry like BombardierSkidoo and Polaris, we will have limited classes available. The additional $15,000 from the state will hopefully add to that schedule. Beginning in October, NAOI and BRP teamed up to present five avalanche seminars and five full-day field workshops (normal value $150) for just $50 per person. These programs were fast-paced, fun and educational for the whole family designed to help you have more fun riding and playing safely this winter. The state of Alaska may be willing to ensure you have fast, smooth, groomed trails that get you into remote areas quickly, but just know that it is ultimately up to each of us individually to ensure we are safe on the trails, mountains, lakes, rivers, glaciers and tundra; and that we have the skills and knowledge to respond in the event of the unexpected. At NAOI we encourage you to take the time to get educated. You can learn more or sign up online at or call 907-376-2898.

Courtesy NAOI

Riders enjoy the views at Summit Lake, in Alaska.

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Defining spirit Snowmachine accident prompts rider to work harder toward his dreams

Courtesy Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson sits astride his sled at Hatcher Pass.


rad Johnson can’t tell you the date he got hurt in a snowmobile accident despite the fact it changed his life forever. Not because he doesn’t remember but because he refuses to look back. “I’m focused on going forward,” he says matter-of-factly. “I lay in a hospital bed for a month having doctors tell me I would likely never walk again. And I made the decision that was a lie. I refused to accept that outcome.” For the record, the date was Feb. 4, 2012, when tragedy struck. Johnson and a group of about 30 friends were riding and jumping their snowmachines in Hatcher Pass off Archangel Trail trying to capture film footage that would attract sponsorships to fund his riding career. “It was a 2- to 3-foot ‘pow’ day. Bluebird. It was great, and I was stoked. We were using my iPhone to film, and I was feeling really confident we were going to get some great shots,” he recalled of that day. “We were taking some huge drops and nailing ’em,” he continued. “I saw this big hit so I set my friend up with my camera phone and took this 110-foot jump. I was expecting a super cush landing but when I hit it was ‘boiler plate’ hard. I slammed into the machine and broke my back at T-12.” At the time Johnson didn’t know just how bad he was really hurt. But he knew it wasn’t good. “The pain was excruciating, and I couldn’t feel my legs.” To Johnson’s good fortune, the group he was riding with included skilled medical professionals and fast-acting friends who had him strapped to a stretcher, skidded down the hill to a waiting helicopter and transported to the hospital in less than an hour.

16 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

By Debra McGhan

“It was actually pretty amazing how fast everything happened,” Johnson said. He knew he was paralyzed but the harsh truth was delivered when radiology results confirmed the injury was permanent. He was paralyzed from the waist down. “They told me I would never ride again,” he said. “I was crushed. Devastated. I just couldn’t believe that. Of course I was going to ride again. I would just have to figure out how.” Determination drove him forward and he began to formulate a plan that would get him up on his feet, and more importantly in his mind, back on the seat of his sled. He poured himself into healing and physical therapy to rebuild strength, and in an unprecedented turnaround, he defied the doctors and was back riding his sled just two months later. “That was the absolute high point for me in my riding career,” he says with a lazy grin. “The day I got back on that sled and found out I could still ride like I always had just fueled my determination to keep going; push even harder.

Courtesy Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson, walking with his Kustom Fit Orthotic (KFO) leg braces.

“Powder riding is everything to me. I live for it. If I couldn’t ride powder, I don’t know what I’d do. “My goal is to show others that you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t give up. I want to inspire kids and adults through my story while achieving my own goals.” His journey has not been easy. “All of a sudden, a task that would take a normal person a minute to do was impossible for me. I spent five long months in a wheelchair and a hard year working constantly to get strong enough to do the things I’m doing now. “Today I walk using KFO leg braces, and forearm crutches. I think I’m one of the only people in the world using them full time.” Johnson is unwavering in his drive to show the world what is possible. He says that while life has changed dramatically for him, giving up has never been an option. “You just have to try harder,” he says. “I ride every day. I’m having fun. And I’m still smiling. So life is good. “All I ever wanted to do was be a professional snowmachine rider. It was always my dream and I’m not ever letting go of that. I may have to rely on my friends a lot more these days, which has been really hard for me, but I have great friends and it’s all worth it.” When asked what advice he would give to others chasing a similar dream Johnson said, “Calm down a little. Be patient and take the time to really check out what you’re getting into before you commit and go for it. I was just in too much of a hurry. “If you are willing to be patient and work for it, your dream will come to you. Just don’t try to rush and take shortcuts.” To learn more about Johnson you can check out his video at All of us at the North America Outdoor Institute appreciate Johnson sharing his story so that others can be inspired and learn from his tragedy. NAOI offers a menu of training opportunities to help you ‘chase your dream safely.’ Get a full schedule of upcoming courses by visiting or call 907-376-2898 to learn more. Check out the full schedule of courses offered by the North America Outdoor Institute and register for programs at or call 907-376-2898.


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Courtesy Brad Johnson

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907-279-9478 • 1-800-478-4555

TERRAIN DOMINATION This is a limited-time offer that is valid for the purchase of selected qualifying models and is subject to credit approval from TD Auto Finance® (TDAF) on qualified purchases financed during this program. Offer may not be combined with certain other offers, is subject to change, and may be extended or terminated without further notice. See participating retailers for complete details and conditions. Monthly payment and cost of borrowing will vary depending on amount borrowed and down payment/trade. Minimum amount to finance is $5,000. Example: $7,500 financed at 0.00% over 36 months = 36 monthly payments of $208.34 with a cost of borrowing of $0 and a total obligation of $7,500.24. Offer ends Dec. 31, 2013. Polaris recommends that all snowmobile riders take a training course. Do not attempt maneuvers beyond your capability. Always wear a helmet and other safety apparel. Never drink and ride. ©2013 Polaris Industries Inc.

Brad Johnson ripping up the slopes at Hatcher Pass. • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 17

SNOW05566513_AD_RMK_CAN.indd 1

10/28/13 2:31 PM

Club briefs

Anchorage Snowmobile Club seeks board members for recent losses

by Justin Matley


ccording to club president Jack Grieco, Anchorage Snowmobile Club is invested in growing the club. This sort of growth typically consists of regular members, but for the beginning of the 2013-14 season, new board members are a priority. “We have a couple of openings on our board because of people moving and that type of thing, so those just became available and we need to fill those,” said Grieco in November. With a portion of the membership consisting of military members, ASC is constantly affected by transfers and reassignments. Membership fluctuation is an annual obstacle to overcome, but ASC is interested in not only maintaining membership levels but increasing membership as well. “There’s always a little attrition and those things, but we would like to grow the club,” Grieco said. ASC has plenty of group rides scheduled with openings to support any growth, and new members could account for more rides and more opportunities for people to enjoy the backcountry in winter.

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18 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

Regular members can focus on the fun activities and take a little extra initiative to get involved or volunteer for projects. Board members have extra duties to perform. According to Grieco, board member are responsible for going to board meetings once a month. There are 13 total positions on the board. Each board member or team of two is responsible for hosting one of the seven general membership meetings held each year. Community involvement is also encouraged. “Board members are also asked to lead rides whether it’s a day ride or an overnight ride,” Grieco said. “We’d also like them to be on committees, something like Friends of the Chugach or a number of different land-use committees out there they can participate on. We like them to be involved and try to promote snowmobiling.” For any members interested in filling a board opening they should begin by emailing Grieco at [email protected]

Club briefs

ASC hosts raffle and rides by Justin Matley


y the time SnowRider’s December issue hits the racks there’ll be little time left to capitalize on the annual Anchorage Snowmobile Club snowmachine raffle. This year’s machine up for grabs is a real mountain powerhouse, and with limited tickets sales there’s a high chance of winning. “We have 1,000 tickets for sale and the main prize is a Ski-Doo 800, 154-inch track, and that will be drawn on Dec. 18 at our club meeting,” said Jack Grieco, club president. Raffle tickets are being sold right up to 7:30 p.m. the night of the drawing. Also in December, ASC is planning a Women’s ride. Early season scant snowfall suggests it may be canceled; however, interested ladies are encouraged to stay informed on the ASC website or pay attention to other women’s rides scheduled for later this winter. Training is always an important aspect of club activities, and everyone is encouraged to jump in on those opportunities. “We’re working with the avalanche school to put together a training ride for our members,” said Grieco. “We’ll probably have up to 12 openings, and the plan is to go out with two of the instructors to somewhere like Placer, Turnagain or Hatcher Pass to learn how to determine avalanche zones, how to work with a probe and beacon, and it’ll be like an all-day ride with two of the instructors.” On Dec. 21, Grieco is scheduled to lead what he likes to call the “Longest Ride on the Shortest Day.” He expected the ride to be held in the Big Lake Big with a barbecue.

“It’s a family-oriented ride between sunrise and sunset, so actually pretty short,” Grieco said. There are a number of longer, overnight rides scheduled and there may be a guest speaker schedule, too, someone from the Parks Department or a public figure, according the Grieco. The raffle, events and rides can all be investigated on the club website, www. briefs

ORTAB looking for snowmachine representative


laska’s Division of Natural Resources is still looking for an Outdoor Recreation Trail Advisory Board member to represent the motorized trails community for the Mat-Su-Copper Basin region. This advisory board only meets once a year and reviews grant applications for recreational trails and makes recommendations to the director to fund. If you’re interested in applying, go to the ORTAB site at misc/ortaboard.htm or the Recreational Trails Program at grants/trails.htm. You can also call 2698699 or email [email protected]

Your Polaris purchase could put money in local clubs’ pockets


or the ninth consecutive year, Polaris is sponsoring a program called “Winning Riders,” which is aimed at providing financial support to local snowmachine clubs based

The passion for snowmobiling is running strong across the North American snowbelt on snowmachine sales in their area. The company is making contributions to snowmachine associations in 12 Canadian provinces and territories and 25 U.S. states, including Alaska. “The passion for snowmobiling is running strong across the North American snowbelt,” said Mike Jonikas, vice president of Polaris sales and marketing in a press release. “We see real benefits in supporting the associations that coordinate activities of snowmobile clubs and help develop great riding opportunities.” Polaris makes the “Winning Riders” contributions with “no strings attached,” allowing each state or province to decide how to use the funds it receives. Projects funded by Winning Riders donations in recent years have included membership drives, trail and grooming programs, legislative efforts, tourism promotion and more. For more details on Polaris’ program,

check out the company website at • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 19


Test results show E-15 fuel not a good choice for snowmachines


he U.S. Depar tment of Energy this fall released a study conducted by Michigan Technological University that evaluated the effects of E-15 fuel on current and legacy snowmachine engines. Three test scenarios were conducted – cold-start performance and emissions, drivability and laboratory exhaust emissions over the life of the engine. The two-year test included eight engines driven in real-life, and lab, conditions. The results: E-15 fuel is not a good choice for snowmachine use. These results back the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to not approve E-15 fuel for snowmachines, either. With E-15 fuel, which contains 15 percent ethanol, becoming more readily available, study organizers say it is important for snowmachine owners to understand that it should not be used

in their sleds. The 69-page study cites increased temperature output when using this fuel, which can damage engines. E-10 fuel, one the other hand, has been on the market for years, and continues to be safe. To see the complete study online go to www.nrel. gov/docs/fy13osti/60115.pdf.

Ski-Doo racks up media awards


ombardier’s 2014 Ski-Doo snowmobiles received 10 awards from three difference magazines in a two-week period, including Snow Goer magazine’s Snowmobile of The Year for the Ski-Doo GSX LE ACE 900 model, an award that recognizes “innovation, forward thinking and excellence.”

American Snowmobiler magazine also named the following awards in its Buyer’s Guide with Best of the Best selections: - SkiDoo GSX LE ACE 900 model editor ’s choice

- Ski-Doo ACE 900 engine with iTC and Learning Key best ne w tech

best high perfor mance - SkiDoo MX Z X-RS E-TEC 800R model best tr ail luxury - Ski-Doo MX Z X-RS E-TEC 800R model best 2 - up touring - SkiDoo Grand Touring SE model

Sled Head 24/7 TV, another snowmachine outlet, presented its awards for the Best Sleds of 2014 last month. Ski-Doo models dominated there, too: mountain sled of the year

- Ski-Doo Freeride 154 model

A two-year U.S. Department of Energy study revealed what many snowmachiners already suspected: The proposed E-15 fuel was not a good choice for sleds.

Early-bird Discounts on winter passes

Winterthrough passes available now! October 15th

20 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

briefs rough tr ail sled of the year

- MX Z X-RS E-TEC 800R model economy sled of the year

- MX Z Sport 600 model Grand Touring LE ACE 900 model

touring sled of the year

While the Ski-Doo GSX LE ACE 900 model took Snow Goer’s Top honors, it

also included these 10 models among its favorites: - Yamaha SR Viper RTX SE

- Polaris 800 Switchback Pro-R - Polaris 800 Pro-RMK 155 - Polaris 600 Rush Pro-R

- Ski-Doo Summit Sport 154 Power T.E.K. 800R

- Polaris 600 Indy SP

- Ski-Doo MX Z TNT E-TEC 800R - Ski-Doo Freeride 137 E-TEC 800R

- Arctic Cat XF 8000 Cross Country Sno Pro - Arctic Cat El Tigre 6000 SP 2014

The Ski-Doo GSX LE ACE 900 was voted Snow Goer magazine’s sled of the year. Courtesy Ski-Doo • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 21


Palin-Huntington pair could prove successful for Iron Dog 


lthough the Palin name is known far and wide beyond Alaska, in Fairbanks and elsewhere here in the state, the name Huntington is equally as familiar. Those in the snowmachine world will see those two names paired together in the running of the 2014 Iron Dog in February, and this newest matchup is sure to have fans watching. Todd Palin, a four-time Iron Dog winner, and Tyler Huntington, a twotime winner, will take their combined experience and hope that it will create a winning combination. Huntington told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner just that in November, adding that “It always helps when you have a very experienced partner.” Palin, 49, husband of former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, has raced in every Iron Dog since 1993. His four victories were accomplished with three different partners – Dwayne Drake in 1995, Dusty VanMeter in 2000 and 2002; and Scott Davis, in 2007. He finished fifth in the 2013 race.


Todd Palin

Tyler Huntington

Huntington, 28, won championships in 2010 and 2011 with Chris Olds of Eagle River. Last year, Huntington had planned to race with Evan Booth of Nome, but broke his hip just two weeks before the start of the race while in training. The Iron Dog covers 2,000 miles from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. The 2014 race begins Feb. 16.

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Visit for current rates and terms. *3.25% is lowest annual percentage rate (APR) available based upon member qualifications and terms on new and used snowmachines, motorcycles and ATVs. New money only; no refinancing of existing loans at Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union. No other discounts apply. This loan rate is effective through December 31, 2013 and is subject to change.

22 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •


Snowmachine safety highlighted in January


he International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association celebrates International Snowmobile Safety Week the week of Jan 1826, 2014. The theme is “Safe Riders: You Make Snowmobiling Safe,” and organizations are encouraged to take a friend out, especially someone new to the sport, and show them how to ride safely. Information packets and planning materials are available to clubs at ( far right)

Alaska State Parks Director Ben Ellis allocated an additional $15,000 in SnowTRAC funds to improve safety and signage on snowmachine trails that are primarily used as transportation corridors off the road system.

Director approves SnowTRAC funding for grooming and safety


he Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation this fall approved funding for snowmobile trail grooming and for trail safety and signing projects after receiving input from the Snowmobile Trail Advisory Council. SnowTRAC recommended funding for grooming projects in the Mat-Su Valley, the Kenai Peninsula and Southeast Alaska, and the Northern Region at approximately 70 percent of what was spent last year.  Alaska State Parks director Ben Ellis agreed with most of what SnowTRAC approved, but added, “The one modification I am making is to allocate an additional $15,000 in safety grant funds not spent last year to safety and signing projects for snowmobile trails

that are used primarily as transportation corridors, and which will benefit remote communities off of the road system.” Ellis did not clarify which corridors those would include. For more information on SnowTRAC or the state’s grant program, contact State Trails program coordinator Darcy Harris at [email protected], or call 2698699.

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(907)349-3071 Dimond Center • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 23

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24 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

CALENDAR • Alaska SnowRider Events List

D ecem ber 2013

Post your snowmachine events on Alaska’s snowmachine calendar,! D ec. 5

Board Meeting 6 p.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

D ec. 7

Compeaus Trail 10 a.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

D ec. 7

ASC Wome’s Ride, Petersville 10 a.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

D ec. 11

ASC Board Meeting 7 p.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

D ec. 14

Powder Riding: South Denali 10 a.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

D ec. 14

Chatanika Ride 10 a.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

D ec. 18

ASC General Membership Meeting 7 p.m., IBEW Hall, Anchorage Snowmobile Club

D ec. 18

ASC General Membership Meeting 7 p.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

D ec. 21

The Shortest Day-Longest Ride 10 a.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

D ec. 21

McKay Creek Ride 10 a.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

D ec. 28

One Cold December Ride 10 a.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

D ec. 28

Tanana Flats Ride 10 a.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

Ja n ua ry Ja n. 2

ASC Board Meeting 6 p.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

Ja n. 4

South Denali Orientation 10 a.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

Ja n. 8

ASC Board Meeting 7 p.m., Anchorage Snowmobile Club

Ja n. 14

General Membership Meeting 7 p.m., Fairbanks Snow Travelers

Find event specifics and updates on these club and event websites: Alaska Motor Mushers Club Anchorage Snowmobile Club www.anchoragesnowmobileclub. com Alaska Trail Blazers Located in Tok, online via Facebook Arctic Man Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers Curry Ridge Riders Fairbanks Snow Travelers Homer Snomads Lake Louise Snowmachine Club, the Wolf Pack www.lakelouisesnowmachineclub. com Oxygen & Octane Tired Iron Vintage Races

STATEWIDE CLUBS ALASKA MOTOR MUSHERS PO Box 871753 • Wasilla, AK, 99687 Fax: 376-7966 President: Wayne Devore

FAIRBANKS SNOW TRAVELERS P.O. Box 80053 Fairbanks, AK 99708-0053 479-4933

ALASKA TRAILBLAZERS P.O. Box 36 • Tok, AK 99780 883-7669

JUNEAU SNOWMOBILE CLUB P.O. Box 32882 • Juneau, AK 99803 723-8948

ANCHORAGE SNOWMOBILE CLUB P.O. Box 232196 • Anchorage, AK 99523 Hotline: 566-02726

KODIAK SNO BRUINS Box 3492 • Kodiak, AK 99615 486-3828

AURORA INTERNATIONAL INC. P.O. Box 520581 • Big Lake, AK 99652 892-6372 CARIBOU HILLS CABIN HOPPERS P.O. Box 375 • Clam Gulch, AK 99568 252-1782 CHEECHAKO SKI BENDERS P.O. Box 834 • Kenai, AK 99611 283-7664 CHILKAT SNOWBURNERS INC. P.O. Box 870 • Haines, AK 99827 Diane Lapham, 766-2503 COPPER COUNTRY SNOWMOBILE CLUB HC 01 Box 300 • Gakona, AK 99586 822-3440 CURRY RIDGE RIDERS P.O. Box 13218 • Trapper Creek, AK 99683 Hotline: 689-7669 or 352-3669 President: Randy Crosby Email: [email protected] website: DELTA SNOW SEEKERS P.O. Box 137 Delta Junction, AK 99737 Tom Waggoner, 895-4196

LAKE LOUISE SNOWMACHINE CLUB HC01 Box 1684B Glennallen, AK 99588 Corky Mathews, 250-2098 MAT-SU MOTOR MUSHERS P.O. Box 876135 Wasilla, AK 99687-6224 Mat-Su Vintage Snowmachine Racers Club Email: [email protected] website: President: Craig Clayton, 232-7518 NORTHERN LIGHTS SNOWMOBILE CLUB 2039 B Coman Dr. Eielson AFB, AK 99702 David Lemelind, 372-2016 RESURRECTION SNOW RIDERS P.O. Box 2132 • Seward, AK 99664 224-3537 Snomads, Inc. P. O. Box 3646 • Homer, AK, 99603 [email protected] VALDEZ SNOWMACHINE CLUB P.O. Box 3689 • Valdez, AK 99686 Laura Sax, 835-2373

Trek Over the Top Valdez Snowmachine Club Valdez Snowmachine Club Willow Winter Carnival

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26 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

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907-694-6700 • • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 27

A S SA 2 013 -14 M E M B E R S H I P F O R M The Alaska State Snowmobile Association is not liable for personal Insurance. Therefore, I hereby release and discharge ASSA, its agents, and /or officers from any and all claims, demands, actions, judgements and executions which the below signed now have or may have in the future for themselves or for the below signed heirs, executors, administrators or assign for any and all personal injuries and property damage which have been caused by or may arise out of the participation of myself or my family in any ASSA Sponsored event. I, the belowsigned, hereby acknowledge that have read this release and understand all of its terms. I execute it voluntarily with full knowledge of its significance. signature:


Recreational Snowmobiling is being threatened in Alaska. To retain access to your favorite places to ride and in order to represent snowmobilers’ rights on statewide issues in Juneau, we need your support. We encourage every Alaskan Snowmobiler to: •

join your local club

join your state association

register your snowmobile - it ’s the law

Alaska State Snowmobile Association

- Be represented on Local Issues

contact us 1 (888)-8AK-SNOW (1 (888)-825-7669) or locally 566-0210

- Be represented on State Issues


- These are the only numbers Federal, State and Local governmental officials will use for funding and access issues.

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An ASSA membership provides each Alaskan Snowmobiler with: • A subscription to the Nationally acclaimed Alaskan Snow Rider!

purpose and objectives

• Eligibility for membership with Denali Alaska Federal Credit Union (Financing for that Snowmobile or Tow Vehicle!)

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• Representation on Statewide issues.

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Renewal Membership

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R egular Membership - $20 per Season (October 1—Sept 30)

Family Membership - (up to 4 People) - $35 per year

Snowmobile Club - $50 Per Year ASSA Business Membership - $100 per Year

28 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

2013-2014 goals The #1 goal for this season is increasing both our member numbers as well as participating clubs around Alaska. We will be actively pursuing new board members who represent a wide range of snowmobile activities and regions.

To encourage the formation of clubs statewide and promote good Sportsmanship, safe and responsible use of snowmobiles Sponsor enactment of favorable regulations concerning ownership and use of snowmobiles Cooperate with Public Land Use Regulatory Agencies while reserving the right to oppose regulations deemed unfair or not in the best interests of our members Maintain a legislative commit tee to serve members statewide

ASSA will be participating in legal and advisory boards that seek to develop a statewide trails system.

Support the use of snowmobiles pertaining to an individual’s livelihood.

We will also continue to be the main legal resource and information clearinghouse for the ongoing battle for statewide access for motorized winter recreation in Alaska and will develop constituent relationships that benefit our organization.

Recognize competition as an important part of recreational Snowmobiling and support such competition.

ASSA will continue to monitor and offer input to the Sno-Trac Board concerning the allocation of Point of Sale Revenues.

Support local search and rescue efforts

The Association treasures the natural beauty of Alaska and values its natural resources; therefore we will promote the protection of the environment from irrevocable harm.

Ladies, Rev Your Engines!




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30 • Alaska SnowRider • December 2013 •

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ANCHORAGE (907) 27-REHAB (277-3422) BETHEL (907) 543-7601 BARROW (907)852-3099 DUTCH HARBOR (907) 581-2204 FAIRBANKS (907) 451-7246 • December 2013 • Alaska SnowRider • 31



The cost of fixing a snow machine can end your season early. So call an Alaska Allstate Agent today. They’ll help make sure you’re protected all season long. local agent I 866-678-1101 I


Actual costs will vary and may depend on coverages selected. Coverage and discounts subject to terms, availability and qualifications and may not be available in all states. Allstate Insurance Co. and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co.: Northbrook, IL. Life insurance issued by Allstate Assurance Co., Northbrook, IL. © 2013 Allstate Insurance Co.

101419_A05_AHO7922 Leo Burnett November 6, 2013 TJ