WCHA – New Race Season Ahead
Many great ideas have been born as a result of long and lonely days in the Alberta oilpatch. The sledding community gives a warm welcome to one of these ideas from Tyler Collett, instigator and lead organizer of the Western Canadian Hillclimb Association (WCHA). Tyler, hailing from Grande Prairie, Alberta, had a vision to bring new excitement into the sport of snowmobiling by starting a circuit that is friendly to all skill levels and promotes group and family support on the sidelines.
Essentially, everyone can be involved in the weekend event from racing to wrenching to watching and cheering. It’s something a little different from backcountry riding where mom can’t exactly come out and watch while drinking a coffee in her mittens by the lodge.
For those of you whom have never witnessed a hillclimb event, competitors race against a clock through an uphill course which weaves through gates forcing the rider to make technical decisions to shave time to make it to the top the fastest. The faster you go, the harder it is to make the gates. It combines the adrenaline of racing with the technicality of backcountry riding and it takes skill to master the dynamic course and conditions that are thrown at you.
The premier season was received well, in 2014, by both BC communities, Dawson Creek (hosted April 5-6 – watch video) and Revelstoke (hosted April 19-20 – read our re-cap), where multiple riders came out to give the sport a try in addition to some veterans. There was a competitive spirit in the air and the events ran smoothly including open mod, stock and open 800, stock and open 600 and womens’ open. People travelled near and far to take part and the communities benefited from the events’ entourage by providing a fun venue to come out and watch in addition to the after parties and celebrations that spread through to local businesses.
It takes a lot of dedicated people and a small boatload of cash to make an event like this come to fruition. Tyler took the helm financially, with thanks to his business Tantrum Pipeline. His partner, Jessica Edenoste, played a huge role in pursuing the dream both at the event and behind the scenes in addition to the rest of the crew: Darren and Shari Brochu, Jonathan and Steve Penner, Ivan Celuszak and Les Driedger. Without these people setting up fences and gates, marking out the course, running the timer and the start gate and directing racers the whole thing would not have been possible.
Although the event lost the organizer’s money this season, they are not deterred from bringing it back next season – only bigger and better. The goal is to have more events at more locations and build a name for WCHA as a non-profit organization. By creating a training circuit for people to enter the sport, the WCHA is a logical stepping stone to other American circuits including Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) which is renowned by its Jackson Hole race. There will be more classes added to the event schedule next year to help attract amateur riders without making them spend big money building a race sled. The only mod required is a tail flap extension—so get out there and start cutting up the floor mats from your truck and race in a competition that promotes sledding in western Canada. -Nadine Overwater
CONFIRMED DATES FOR THE 2015 SEASON ARE:
At this point the early season Revelstoke event is canceled.