Showing posts with label Snowmobile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Snowmobile. Show all posts

Video: Snowmobile Paragliding in Sweden

So here are two words that I never thought I'd see used together: snowmobile paragliding. That is the new extreme activity that a team of daredevils called the Stunt Freaks invented while out in a remote region of Sweden in the winter. As you'll see in the video below, it is exactly as crazy as it sounds.

Some Final Thoughts on the 2017 Winter XGames

If you've ready my blog over the weekend, you saw that I posted a couple of stories from the 2017 Winter XGames (part 1 and part 2). After an eventful day again on Sunday, I'm now back home and ready to dive into our usual updates here at The Adventure Blog, but before I did that I wanted to share some final thoughts on this amazing event held in Aspen, Colorado.

Yesterday was the final day of the competition, with only three events on the schedule. But because all three received air time on ESPN, there was plenty of energy around those competitions. The first of which was women's ski slopestyle, which was won by 14-year old Kelly Sildaru, who simply looked amazing on the slopes. At 14 years of age I was barely able to keep myself out of trouble, but this young lady is already dominating the freestyle skiing world circuit. Don't believe me? Consider this: it was Kelly's second XGames gold medal in this event in a row, which means she started winning last year at the age of 13.

From there it was on to the men's snowboard slopestyle final where an another amazing young athlete took center stage. Norway's Marcus Kleveland, who is just 17 years old, showed off moves that are going to make him a force to reckoned with for years to come as well, winning the event in impressive fashion. With just over a year to go until the next Winter Olympic Games, I think it is safe to say that we're going to see both Marcus and Kelly on that very big stage next year.

The final event of the XGames with the snowmobile best trick competition, which was won by Daniel Boden. Unfortunately, I wasn't around to see this event go down, as when it was getting underway I was heading to the airport to start my trip back home. The big story around this event was the attempt by two of the riders – Colten Moore and Heath Frisby – to do the first ever double backflip in a competition. Neither man was able to accomplish that feat however, leaving the door open for others to show off their moves instead.

So, after a very busy weekend filled with some great athletic performances – not to mention a few dramatic moments – my main takeaway from my first ever XGames competition was just how approachable and relaxed the athletes all were. Everyone was having a great time, with these world class skiers and snowboarders mingling casually with fans, speaking freely with the media, and generally having a great time. I've been to similar events in the past, and it isn't always so relaxed or easy to enjoy the proceedings, but the entire vibe of the XGames is so positive, its hard not to get caught up in what's happening there. It doesn't hurt that Aspen is a great place to hold the competitions, with plenty to offer spectators and athletes alike.

I want to thank my friends at LifeProof for inviting me to take part in the event. It was a great experience, and I was happy to be a part of the crowd that saw everything go down over the past few days. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go back again in the future.

Winter XGames 2017 Day 2: A Well Oiled Machine

Yesterday was my second day at Winter XGames 2017 in Aspen, Colorado and much like Day 1, it was filled with lots of energy and excitement, not just from the athletes, but from the spectators too. With great weather, relatively warm temperatures (25ºF/-3ºC), and lots of things to do in and around the XGames arena, the fans turned out in large numbers to cheer on their favorite actions sports athletes, who didn't disappoint.

The first competition of the day got started early was some of the best skiers in the world hitting the slopes for the men's slopstyle skiing final, which was won by Øystein Braaten of Norway. He started a bit slow on his first run, crashing out early on some rails. But but his second attempt was nearly flawless, giving him a solid win agains some great competition, which weren't far off in terms of scoring.

Next up, was women's snowboard slopestyle finals, which went Julie Marino of the U.S. This competition wasn't quite so hotly contested as the men's ski final, but the ladies did put on a good show, with a large crowd starting to gather in the XGames village. With music, food, contests, entertainment, and plenty of fun booths to visit, the fans had a lot to do between competitions.

The big draw for the daytime events was without a doubt the snowmobile freestyle final. This is the crazy event in which snowmobile riders attempt to push their powerful - but heavy and ponderous – machines through some amazing stunts in the air. Each year, this competition seems to get more intense, and 2017 was not different. This is one of those sports where I'm much happier watching than actually participating, as on more than one occasion I thought to myself "these guys are crazy."

As the event rolled along, the riders continued to push the envelope, with Colten Moore setting the pace with some high-flying stunts that wowed the crowd. But at the end of the day, the gold medal went to Joe Parsons, who on his final run strung together an impressive set of tricks that impressed the judges enough to just edge out his rival.


Following the crazy antics on the snowmobiles, we had a bit of time to catch our breath before the start of the next competition. During that period, I had the chance to chat with a couple of different athletes, including skier Kevin Rolland and snowboarders Sebastian Toutant and Christy Prior, who wasn't on hand to compete as she recovers from injury. The take away I got from chatting with each of them was that the XGames are as big for these athletes as the Olympics, and that they all look forward to competing with their friends in Aspen. This is a tightly knit group of friends who also happen to be rivals, and it was clear that they all knew each other well and enjoyed going head to head with one another.

In speaking to with Rolland in particular we chatted about the number of crashes that had been occurring on the superpipe over the course of the week. I mentioned this yesterday, and said that it marred the competition to a degree, as not everyone got the chance to truly shine. Kevin told met hat the edges of the pipe were not quite what the athletes were use to, and it was making it very difficult to stick the landings after coming off some of their high flying antics. He had crashed badly on one of his runs the night before, but fortunately was just a little bruised and shaken up the next day. After we chatted, he was getting on a plane to fly to Europe, where he would be skiing at the World Cup next week. Fortunately, he should be ready to go for that competition.

Early in the evening, the focus of the games shifted back to the slopes, where the ladies gathered once more for the ski Big Air finale. That competition was won by German Lisa Zimmerman, who is amongst the best big air competitors in the world. She edged out the competition with some serious height and tricks that had the crowd cheering, even as they regathered for the evening's events.

After that, the snowboarders returned to the superpipe once again, with the ladies final in that event. American Elena Hight took her first ever gold in that event, fending off some stiff competition from a who's who list of female snowboarders. Fortunately, there were fewer crashes in the pipe for this event, although the same problems that had caused the men issues the night before were still somewhat common for the ladies too.

The final event of the night was the men's skiing Big Air final, which got off to an auspicious start when Swiss rider Luca Schuler crashed badly on his first run of the night. That accident brought a hush to the crowd, which looked on with obvious concern as medical staff slowly stabilized him, placed him on a stretcher, and rushed him off the snow. The prognosis later would be that Schuler suffered a concussion, and he spent some time in a local hospital where tests were negative and he was later released. It seems like he'll be just fine, but it was a scary moment for the games for sure.

Once the competition resumed, the rest of the field put on quite an aerial show. The skiers flipped, tumbled, soared, and spun through the thin Aspen air, quickly reenergizing the crowd. In the end, it was Brit James Woods who took home the gold, the first person form his country to earn that honor at the XGames.

After the competitions wrapped up for the evening, the crowd moved over to one of the music stages to listen to some of the bands booked to entertain them at the XGames. For me, it was time to head home and get some rest. It had been another fun, but long day, during which I had yet another chance to see these athletes not only shine in their field, but interact with their fans too. The one thing I'll definitely take away from my XGames experience is how down to Earth and grounded all of the athletes are, and how happy the are to be here. That includes meeting and greeting their fans, who find them accessible and accommodating at every turn. There are other pro athletes that could learn a thing or two from that.


The TImbersled Just Might Be the Most Fun You Can Have on Snow

A few days back I traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to try out a new product that I had only seen once or twice before. Its the Timbersled, which can best be described as a mash-up between a motorized dirt bike and a snowmobile, bringing the best qualities of each of those machines together to create a unique ride.

The concept behind the Timbersled first germinated in the mind of the company's founder – Allen Mangum – back in 2008. He spent a couple of years designing and testing prototypes before actually bringing the first model to market in 2010, creating the sport of snow biking in the process.

Last year, Timbersled – which is headquartered in Ponderay, Idaho – was purchased by Polaris, which is another company dedicated to a wide variety of motorsports. As a result, this unique snow vehicle is getting more exposure than ever before.

It should be noted that the Timbersled is not a fully-built product right out of the box. It is actually a kit that you buy that converts your existing dirt bike into something that can glide across the snow with surprising agility and ease. There are a number of different Timbersled systems available, but essentially it breaks down to two versions – the short or long track. The short track is a bit more maneuverable, while the long track is better suited for deeper snow. But both are very capable and fun to ride.


I got to spend several hours riding the Timbersled at Beaver Creek Lodge in Utah. At first, it took a bit of orientation to get the feel for how it rides, but after 5 or 10 minutes on the vehicle, it all fell into place. At first it seems like you're a bit off balance, with the front ski giving the impression it won't hold on the soft snow. But, after taking a few turns on it, you'll start to feel much more comfortable, and trust the machine more fully. After that, it's pure fun.

The Timbersled comes equipped with electric start and fuel injection, which helps to make it easier for beginning riders to get up and moving as quickly as possible. My first Timbersled had a bit of a finicky clutch that made it rough to get on and get moving, but when I switched to a different model, I was off in matter of seconds. From there, it is much like riding a dirt bike, with the right hand operating the breaks, the left hand operating the clutch, and the left foot shifting gears.

I had the chance to test the Timbersled in a wide open meadow that gave me the chance to really open it up and test it out. It's fast and easy to ride when you have lots of space, but transitioning to a trail required a bit more diligence when maneuvering along a narrow path. Much like snowmobiling, trail riding is where its at however, and it didn't take long to feel comfortable driving it through trees and in more confined spaces. Some of my more experienced companions were even taking their Timbersleds off jumps, but I wasn't quite that brave.

Riding a Timbersled was unlike anything I'd ever done before. It has its own unique feel that has to be experienced first hand. Anyone who enjoys riding dirt bikes off road will absolutely love riding one of these vehicles too. If you're the kind of person who dreads putting your motorcycle away for the winter, the Timbersled will give you a whole new perspective on riding in the snow.

While riding one of these, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to take one to Antarctica and ride it to the South Pole. We've seen all kinds of other methods of transportation across the frozen continent, so why not one of these? The possibilities are endless, and it would certainly be a lot of fun.

Check out more at TimberSled.com.