Snowmobile competition returns, at Brohm Ridge 

It’s been an uphill battle to organize another World Freestyle Snowmobiling Association Pro Bowl competition in the Sea to Sky area this year, but then snowmobilers are renowned for their ability to climb hills.

Last year’s event in the Brandywine Valley was nearly called due to snow, rain and otherwise poor visibility. Four hours after the event was supposed to start, the weather cleared enough for the jumpers to do their thing for the crowd of hundreds of hardcore fans that waited it out.

This year’s event was nearly called again when the Resort Municipality of Whistler denied an application to hold the jumping competition in the back section of Lot 4.

"It’s just devastating to work on something for two years and then nothing because I wasn’t provided with the proper documentation in the first place," said organizer Linda Stang.

While she says she was encouraged to organize the event at the beginning, at the end of the day Stang believes her application was denied because the municipality doesn’t want to promote Whistler as an extreme snowmobiling town, especially in light of the municipality’s bid to become environmentally sustainable.

"The thing is it’s already a snowmobile resort," say Stang.

"Look around and see all the trucks with sleds in the back. Snowmobile jumpers, the same guys who are competing in this contest, have already held jumping exhibitions on the mountain for World Cup big air competitions and Fire and Ice shows. The snowmobile community wants to see this event."

The show must go on, however, and Stang found another site to host the competition – the Brohm Ridge Chalet, which is located in the alpine between Whistler and Squamish.

It’s a lot more remote than the day lots in Whistler Village, and the logistics to get all the non-snowmobilers into the area were formidable. But the jumping competition will go on as planned.

It’s the perfect location, according to Stang. "Snowmobilers can go for a ride any time they want during the event, come back to the chalet, get warm, have a barbecue. It also sleeps a lot of people, if they want to stay the night. The scenery is beautiful."

The weather is always unpredictable, but Stang believes that the calibre of talent on display and an 80-foot table top jump are more compelling to serious sled heads than a few clouds.

Whistler’s Jay Fentiman, who won last year’s title with his one-hand superman jumps and heel clickers, will be back again this year to defend his title. Pro snowboarder Chris Dimma, who was second last year with his superman antics, is back again, as is third place finisher B.J. Murray, who launched the biggest airs of the day.

Also appearing are Rob Alford, Kale Stephens, Andy Lindbeck, Chris Burandt, Aaron Bishop and Garth Kaufman.

While the jumping Pro Bowl Event is the main attraction, the event is also being run as a backcountry snowmobiling awareness day, with safety gear demos and information for riders.

Sponsors will also be setting up a tent village to show off gear.

Both the Roops of Hazard and Slednecks film crews will be there to catch all of the action.

Most snowmobilers already know where to go and have the means to get there. If you don’t have a sled, you can fly in with Blackcomb Helicopters in Whistler for a $240 round trip, or with Blacktusk Helicopters for a $100 round trip.

Six passenger vans are booked to transport people from the taxi loop for $10 per person to the Cat Lake Entrance. Westcoast Off Road Hummer Tours will take you to the snowline for $15 return, and you can either go to the site by Snowcat or snowmobile for $5.

Stang went into debt to pay for last year’s event, and she is prepared to go into debt this year if necessary to build the event. She estimates that 300 people came out last year on the worst day imaginable, and that double that number will be out this year if the weather is any good.

There’s no admission, but she says she may charge an admission fee for trucks and hold a raffle to recoup some of her costs.

"A lot of people just want to make cash off this kind of event, but for me it’s just something that I like to do. If we have a really good show, then I’m happy."

On April 15 there will be a fund-raiser party at Maxx Fish, complete with a bikini contest, to create some excitement for the event.

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