More prizes at Ski Doo comp

By Paul Charman

Snowmobile racing is expected to become more popular in New Zealand.

Ski-Doo racing is set to become more popular in NZ. Photo / ThinkStock
Ski-Doo racing is set to become more popular in NZ. Photo / ThinkStock

Last ski season Ski Roundhill put up a $500 prize for an inaugural Ski-Doo Hill Climb, understood to be the first of its type in the country.

About 22 snowmobile riders screamed up the steep 1.7km Richmond Range course, with two actually making it to the top.

But this year (August 17 or 18 depending on weather) there's to be a bigger hill climb event at the same venue, with more in the way of sponsorship and prize money.

Organiser Simon Murrell, who is ski manager at the Roundhill Ski Field, Lake Tekapo, says snowmobile enthusiasts from around the country have indicated they'll be there.

He's been approached by motocross riders from Timaru, and elsewhere, who have begun to race bikes in summer and Ski-Doos (Ski-Doo, snowmobile and sled are used interchangeably) in winter.

Snowmobile use in New Zealand had previously been limited to maintenance and patrol work on professional skifields, or as winter transportation on high country sheep and wind farms, said Murrell.

"But that's changing - more of the high performance racing machines are being sold and a lot of guys can't wait to get their hands on them. These sleds have more suspension, you can't ride them two-up and they have vastly more performance. In fact, they'll go 150km/h or faster.

"In North America Ski-Doo racing has been popular for years and though we'll never see that kind of scale here, just watch. The sport shows every sign of following the tracks of racing motorcycles, jetskis and quad bikes.

"First off all these vehicles just got used for transportation, work and recreation purposes, but then later for competition as well.

"Small as the sport may be - it will be no different with snowmobiles."

- NZ Herald

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