Is snowmobiling an extreme sport?
Yesterday we caught a bit of Top Gear and were fascinated by the extreme race Richard Hammond took on – a Volkswagons’ new Touareg 4×4 against 2 snowmobile champs in Sweden… it was quite a race from the top of a mountain to the bottom (cross-country for the snowmobiles) and then 6 miles across a frozen lake. And even more amazingly – the Touareg won!
What really surprised us was what those snowmobilers can do.
… the above video is not from the Top Gear show but from martinifilms240 and the Winter X Games 2010, with thanks, but a worthy video showing what snowmobilers are getting up to nowadays – certainly extreme and therefore suitable to give a glancing reference to on our website.
Snowmobiling has a rich and exciting history and has firmly planted itself within the enclave of extreme motor sports.
Originally intended as a winter utility vehicle to be used where other vehicles cannot go, snowmobiles have rapidly expanded into the recreational field where it has quickly and quite naturally moved into extreme sport with its diversity of activities such as snowcross/racing, trail riding, freestyle, mountain climbing, boondocking, carving, ditchbanging and grass drags.
Even before 1900 people were experimenting with prototypes of vehicles to travel on snow, but it was in the United States that the first patent for a snow-vehicle using the now recognized format of rear track(s) and front skis was issued to Ray H. Muscott of Waters, MI on June 27, 1916. Many individuals later modified Ford Model Ts with the undercarriage replaced with tracks and skis following this design.
However it was in 1960 when engines became lighter and smaller that Bombardier invented what we know as the modern snowmobile in its open-cockpit one- or two-person form, and started selling it as the “Ski-doo”. Progress hasn’t slowed since that time and the performance of snowmobiles has improved exponentially since their inception with a sharp spike in performance in the last 15 or so years.Nowadays some of the higher powered modern snowmobiles can achieve speeds in excess of 150 mph (240 km/h). Drag racing snowmobiles can reach speeds in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h).
And as the sport grew so too did the challenges. Aerial manoeuvres became the norm and a must with every available spot being turned into a ‘jump’ to get some air. Uncharted terrain is a magnet to trailblazers who ‘boondock’ deep into virgin territory. Landscapes with no paths are the ultimate challenge (thunderhvn).
It’s not without its dangers – but hey, when has that ever stopped anyone? It is worth noting though that due to their inherent maneuverability, acceleration and top speed capabilities, it requires skill and physical strength to control a snowmobile and that snowmobiling injuries and fatalities are higher than those caused by on road motor vehicle traffic!
What more does an extreme sport need but a real hint of danger. Extreme snowmobiling was here to stay.
Another excellent video here from hbombfilmscom. I suggest you dream about these tricks rather than trying them out! Unless, of course, you are a budding Caleb Moore…
I have to admit that my heart is not fully behind this sport. It’s noisy, it’s environmentally unfriendly, it upsets the local floral and fauna… but it is a sport that is here to stay and I’m sure it’s a whole lot of fun and as long as local laws and requests are adhered to then invasive snowmobiling can be controlled.