Arctic Man 33 promises action, adrenaline

by • April 10, 2018 • HighlightsComments Off on Arctic Man 33 promises action, adrenaline256

When this year’s Arctic Man Ski & Sno-Go Classic gets underway, rac- ers new and old will be there for the

action. There are many racers and spectators who have been to all of the events for 25-plus years — among them Eric Heil, Len Story, Petr Kakes, Johnny Martin, Jim Scott and many more.

Heil and his driving partner, Len Story, have been part of this crazy, talent-rich race since before it became known the world
over. In fact, Heil and Story are among the winningest racers of Arctic Man, sharing six- time champion status alongside professional skier Marco Sullivan and his driving partner Tyler Aklestad. Petr Kakes and Johnny Mar- tin have been battling with all these racers for over 25 years.

Rider and skier race toward the release on the Arctic Man course in 2017. BRIAN MONTALBO PHOTOGRAPHY

Rider and skier race toward the release on the Arctic Man course in 2017. BRIAN MONTALBO PHOTOGRAPHY

Daron Rahlves and Levi LaVallee and some more very talented teams have taken the Arctic Man challenge and have performed very well.

But those days are coming to an end. What started as a $100 bet between friends in a bar back in 1985 has become one of the biggest snowmachining and skiing events in Alaska.

“Officially the Arctic Man for 2019 will
change and the skier and snowboarder part of this event will not happen,” said race director and founder Howard Thies. “We are looking hard at the race and event to see what will happen in the future.”

The key, though, is that there will be a future, Thies said.

This year, Arctic Man will celebrate its 33rd anniversary, and a lot of stories and events have happened in the time frame, Thies said.

“In fact, we are taking time to write a book to share all the his- tory and events of Arctic Man for 33 years,” he said. “Along with that, we are producing a 33-year historical movie of the past of the ‘GO FAST or GO HOME’ Alaskan event.”

Every year, Arctic Man becomes a thriving metropolis in the Hoodoos, with a giant swath of cleared snow turned into a make- shift parking lot. It’s a city built on camaraderie between snowma- chiner, and skier and snowboarder – a partnership built on trust from years of racing together and depending upon each other for safety. This year promises more of the same — and then some.

The skier/boarder begins at the summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1,700 feet in less than two miles to the bottom of a nar- row canyon where he meets up with his snowmachine partner. The snowmachiner meets the skier, on the fly, with a tow rope pulling the skier a little over two miles uphill at top speeds of nearly 90 mph. Then they separate, and the skier goes over the side of the second mountain and drops another 1,200 feet to the finish line. It’s an adrenaline rush – for spectators and racers alike. It’s also a

testament to the training and trust that are the key elements of this dynamic duo.

But, this year, there’s more. Arctic Man Extreme will be un- veiled, pitting pairs of snowmachiners on an elimination round race to the top of the mountain. This race will take place right after the ski and snowboard categories are complete.

Come check it out. It’s history in the making.

FOLLOWING THE RACE

If getting to Arctic Man just isn’t an option – maybe the budget is limited or you can’t get the time off of work – don’t worry. There’s always social media. Check out the Arctic Man Facebook updates in the morning and evening – at www. facebook.com.

GETTING THERE

The spectacular Hoodoo Mountains are the venue for this annual event, which attracts nearly 15,000 spectators each year. To get here from Anchorage, follow the Glenn Highway to its intersection with the Richardson Highway at Glennallen. Turn left (north) on the Richardson for approximately 82.5 miles. From Fairbanks follow the Richardson south. Follow the Richardson for another 62.5 miles past Delta Junction.

General GPS coordinates for the Arctic Man campground are 63°12’7.21”N, 145°30’35.30”W.

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