The event you’re about to witness, like many others in Alaska it would seem, is the result of “spirited” conversations in a bar.
While enjoying an evening in the nearby pub, skiers and snowmachiners confronted one another with the question of who could descend the local mountains slopes the fastest.
With each group holding strong to the idea that their particular sport could outrun the other, there was only one way to settle the debate. A bet was struck, and the bar tab was placed as the wager. The rivals made way for the high end of the slopes and raced each other to the bottom. In the end the snowmachines were proved to be the quicker mode of transportation, even on downhill runs. Skiers thought they could outmaneuver the machines, but snowmachine speed, even 30 years ago, was just too much to contend with.
Skiers of course wanted in on some of that speed, so snowmachiners began towing the skiers.
Howard Thies, who had been there at the beginning, later developed the concept into an annual Alaskan race, drawing competitors from around the world and with thousands of spectators annually. According to his records, in 2010 the Arctic Man compound was filled to the limit with more than 1,500 campers and RVs alone, which calls for a big operation.
The event has grown so large, the compound is actually larger than many of Alaska’s communities. It requires major excavating and plowing, on-site power and lighting, safety personal troopers, and now you’ll even find an on-site cell tower, ATM machine and many vendors.
Additional races have been added, a jumping contest, family games, and the entire event has become an annual reunion spot for many of its visitors. Arctic Man has blurred the boundaries between snowmachining and skiing, bringing folks together for some exceptional fun.
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