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April 1, 2008

Yamafest Revelstoke

What goes up…

I flew home last night from Kelowna with yet another head full of memories after two days atop Boulder mountainmar08-110.jpg. The spring Yamafest in Revelstoke has evolved into a model event for us organized by our western region team. For those who have been visiting Sled Talk for awhile, you might remember last years post ‘Revelstoke Report‘. Well this year was more of the same. We hosted a dinner meeting on Thursday night at the Hillcrest for all our western dealers with an early rise Friday to head up the mountain for the day.

mar08-095.jpgTeam YMCA was first on-site in the morning getting set up, prior to our dealers arrival for the demo rides.mar08-077.jpg Nothing like a frozen fritter at 5000 feet to jump-start your day eh. It’s a fact, Pete and Jon will seldom pass-up a gooey dog-nut… wet-nap anyone?

Living down the road in Vernon BC during the 70’s and 80’s, I often made my way to Revy to play on Boulder and Frisbee Ridge. Back then Revelstoke was a red-neck, railroad town stuck in the middle of the Rockies and virtually unknown to snowmobilers outside of the interior. Then along came Peterson Productions and the original extreme sled film ‘Snow Motion: The Art Of Sledding‘ (circa 1990) featuring Waldy Pietrowski and Kevin Fleming, both local Revy boys, who defined their steep and deep carving style on film for all to see, establishing a new sled culture in the process. With the release of Snow Motion 2, Revelstoke was recognized by the snowmobiling world, as a sled-head Mecca of sorts, similar to Vancouver’s North Shore for mountain bikers, Walton for the aspiring motocrosser or Port Dover for the big twins set…

In town, things have changed, a lot. A new ski hill boasts the most vertical in the country drawing in bus loads of tourists. The morning air is whipped by the sound of helicopters lifting skiers to remote alpine jump-offs, a white washed moment from Apocalypse Now. The restaurant and hotel scene is buzzing with foreign language, high end fare and ‘Speedo’s’ are a common sight in the hot-tubs (gag)… You don’t want to know what the property values have done. In a way, its a little frightening as snowmobilers are being more restricted and the price of admission is going up in the face of all the outside money pouring into the area driving up the cost of accommodation. We should all be thankful for the work of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Association and the volunteers that are dealing with the politics and growth to protect sledding in the area.

Gone are the days of being the only tracks on the hill but its all good. We must have had over 300 mar08-099.jpgsnowmobiles on Boulder during the customer appreciation demo rides Saturday, the majority of themmar08-100.jpg Yamaha 4-strokes, many turbo-charged and customized with a plethora of trickery. Chad Rebec (CR racing) showed up with his 174 inch Apex turbo complete with Ti front end. His tunnel and suspension products were very prominent on many of the local sleds.

mar08-098.jpgI smiled when I saw a Vernon family arrive riding ‘his and hers‘ turbo’s each with a child on board. Their two little girls were having a ball hanging on and ‘hanging off’ with mommar08-119.jpg and dad. My grin grew a little larger when I spotted the Sled Necks crew capturing some tricks on camera with pro rider, Brett Turcotte. For those of you keeping count this is the first yellow sled to appear in Sled Talk… tah-dah, credit where credits due, this guy can ride! My grin mar08-108.jpgbecame a jaw dropper when I witnessed Mike Irmen ride his sled down several thousand feet of near vertical slope on his first (failed) attempt at a new chute, which he conquered on his second run claimingmar08-168.jpg another ‘first ascent’ with his Alpine Turbo Nytro. He gets the honor of naming the new chute which runs right next to one aptly called- ‘The Monster’. Generally when a rider ‘sticks’ a sled on one of these impossible climbs, a helicopter will be brought in to lift it down to safety, which according to big Dean from Alpine, is cheap at $400 compared to the cost of repair when it rolls over 50 times to the bottom… makes sense to me!

I was really pleased to meet several people who read this blog regularly, some like the mar08-147.jpgBurdick’s, (shown here) traveled up from the states for the party. One of our dealers (Yukon Yamaha) traveled all the way from Whitehorse (over 26 hours straight) just to join us. Jason, Gary, Brett; hats off guys, that’s commitment. And itmar08-120.jpg wouldn’t have been a western Yamaha event without Gordon Aulenback from GA Checkpoint representing the ‘old guard’, Gordy I gotta get me one of those lids, you’re mar08-133.jpgstill ‘stylin’ man! While I’m on the subject of commitment, there is a gentleman who is very active within the Revelstoke snowmobile club and BCSF. He is well known for flippin’ his famous Boulder Burgers up at the chalet. What many don’t realize is that Herb Shaede (thats Herbie seen here on the tongs) has raised over $50,000 for local charities selling his $5.00 mountain-top burgers to hungry sledders over the past few years. Cheers Herbie, and don’t hold back the onions!

mar08-083.jpgGetting back to the big iron, Randy let me take a spin on his latest creation, an MC Xpress Turbo Nytromar08-084.jpg with Timbersled rear skid, giant Simmons snowboard flexi-skis and the standard CR racing parts and tunnel. At only 280 horsepower I figured this sled would have taken a back seat to Randy’s other ride, an Apex turbo monster with significantly more jam. Both he and Mike Irmen told me their Apex’s have been collecting dust since they dialed in the Nytro’s. In fact Randy has put over 4000 km (thats a lot for a mountain sled) on his Nytro this season compared to only 400 hundred on the Apex. When asked why, he said it was ‘just more fun to ride’. Mike on the other hand, said pound for pound his Nytro’s are laying it down more than last years boosted, methanol injected and nitrous enhanced 4-cylinder. Now let me qualify a couple of things, Randy’s definition of ‘fun’ on a snowmobile and what both he, Mike and a small handful of other elite riders do with these things cannot be expressed in words beyond ‘calculated insanity’ punctuated with solid brass…er, well you know. I also got to try out the latest Powder Lites turbo Nytro which featured themar08-157.jpg mar08-137.jpgnew plastic skid from AD Boivin. Much thanks to Ryan for putting me on Daves sled when he wasn’t looking! So what other cool things did we have to play on? Well how about a gaggle of these scooters being distributed by Alpine Motorsports. I watched several of our resident ‘dirt squirrels’ jump aboard these kitted motocrossers and settle immediately into the ride like they had been running them all season. They work amazingly well!

It was fun to hear the reaction of people getting off the new Venture who likely never have had the chance to ride a ‘sofa’ before (not very common in the mountains). It was an acclaimed sleeper and a joy to ride in the bumps. We had the short track Nytro’s and XT-X there as well which also generated a lot of discussion and a few raised eyebrows. All in all it was mar08-178.jpgan excellent time and I really want to thank our hosts, the Snowmobile Revelstoke Society and all the locals who put up with us pounding out their hill. Jon and I finished up with a Red Bull and a stretch before joining all ourmar08-177.jpg customers who had attended the demo-rides, for dinner and drinks at the Yamaha sponsored ‘customer appreciation’ back at the Hillcrest. The highlight of the evening was watching all the video and pics captured by Veedy for his upcoming Boost 3, due out this fall. Unfortunately I had to head back home to mar08-172.jpgwork but left Jon on the mountain with our man ‘Randy Swenson'(seen here with shot-gunner, Andy White) to do a little R@D after the fact… It’s always fun following Randy (windshields aren’t all that expensive to replace!) cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:26 am in Competition and Racing,Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

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8 Responses to “Yamafest Revelstoke”

  1. Dustin says:

    Looks like a grand ol’ time! Veedy’s movies are fantastic!

  2. Erik says:

    Yep, those guys are great riders… AND ALITTLE CRAZY!! Got to love their riding….

  3. Rick Fyall says:

    hi CR and a privilage to meet you in person at breakfast saturday.i always look forward to the blog and comments from readers. this was my second year at this event and it gets better with age. was really nice to meet many of the brass so to speak. all were exceptional people open to questions and any input. i had the pleasure of spending some time with Jon at the dinner and riding with Jon,Randy,Terry from Kelowna Yamaha(excellent dealer)and others up Turtle on sunday and will remember this day for a good long time as i think Jon will.as a rookie mountain rider,i think he did fantastic and i have to aplaud his skills and sense of humor.i remember one particular bowl on the way out that Randy took us into laced with very large boulders and steep walls and Jon made a remark about how are we going to exit this thing as there didn’t seem to be any way to climb these hills. Randy took us back out the way we had arrived.a good time was had by all and i can’t thank Yamaha and the guys enough for these two days.keep up the good work and look forward to the next blog.

    Thanks Rick and it was a pleasure to meet you… Funny thing about Jon you know, we work hard right into the weekend then give the guy a day off and whats he do? goes snowmobiling… gotta love it!! cheers (say ‘hey’to Terry and the Kelowna Yamaha crew for me) cr

  4. dnr says:

    Hey cr,
    thank you for the great write up.
    Good photos and presentation.
    Wished I was there this year.
    Please keep up the good work.
    Trend setting this blog, is like Yamaha 4 stroke sleds, leading the industry.

  5. FastJoyRide says:

    What can you tell us about changes to the 09 Nytro MTX? I hear front-end geometry changes – did you form an opinion – better?

    Over on TY there seem to be a bunch of issues with the 08’s – which are being modified with non-OEM workarounds, but I held off hoping MamaYama would deal with most of these teething issues in th 2009’s.

    I will have to try to get to this event in Revelstoke next year. I was sledding in the Monashees near Edgewood over the Easter weekend, but had to make a business trip to Toronto last weekend.

    Thanks for the blog it’s been interesting to follow and show’s Yamaha’s leadership and commitment to the sport.

    Hey FJR, re: the Nytro MTX, it does not get the geometry change the same as the trail versions. By nature of its narrow ski-stance the changes really don’t apply the same. It does however get HPG gas shocks in the skid frame with the kicked up rail. As far as the issues on TY go, there is a lot of confusion on there as to what is really happening and often durability issues are being lumped in with geometry updates and tuning. All I can say is our service guys are investigating all the information coming through and the actual claim numbers are quite low, stay tuned we’ll need some more time to figure everything out. cheers cr

  6. Yellowknife says:

    That’s wicked. I’m very jealous. It’s nice to recognize the area’s you were in. Our group should go back next year when you guys are there! Great photo’s and stories.

    On another note, I noticed a ‘track comments’ option on the email link. That should be an easy way to keep track of new reponses I think – thanks for that!!

    Cheers,
    YK

    Its a busy time to be on the mountain… just found out my brother traveled up from the Okanagan to visit us on the hill and couldn’t get a parking spot to unload. He said many trucks were seen heading away from Boulder to ride elsewhere… word to the wise… get there early!

    cheers cr

  7. Stephen Burdick says:

    Chris,

    My wife and I had an absolute blast in Revy again this year. I stand by what I said last year, the Yamaha Canada Team knows customer relations inside and out. You guys put on an absolutely awsome event. Many companies could learn from your example.

    We enjoyed meeting new and old friends alike up on the mountain. Herbie Burgers were the best yet!!!! The snow was fantastic and the weather was really pretty darn nice.

    The new XTX is going to be a hit with many markets, and the new front end geometry is a big improvement over 2008. Nice Job!!! The Venture GT makes me want to get old, well not really, but it is a sweet ride for the touring segment. And the RTX SE……… JUST COOL!!!!!

    We just got back today (Wednesday) and I am still excited about the trip, telling everyone I see how awsome the snow was, how great the Yamaha people are, and how I can’t wait to get back up there!!!!!!

    Chris, wondering is there is a chance of getting the little video you guys played at the beginning of the slide show stuff. The one with the vintage to new footage?

    Thanks again Chris and the Yamaha Canada Team for one of the best long weekend adventures of 2008!!!!!

    Thanks Steve, It was truly a pleasure to meet you both, glad you found the trip worth while and appreciate the positive feedback. I’ll ask about the vid clip, it was cobbed together for internal (private) use thus I might have to remove the audio tracks… cheers cr

  8. Barrhead V.P. says:

    Hey CR,

    I had the opportunity last year to attend Yamafest for the first time after being invited by my dealer. I had a GREAT time with a great bunch of guys and got to try out some of the new Yamaha models. I have been planning to attend this event again this year ever since coming down the hill, and am hoping to invite my brother and some of his friends , many of which are Yamaha trail riders from Montreal , to attend and try out some deep snow riding as well as check out all of the turbos. Problem is, this all requires advance planning and preparation including flights, accomodations and sled rentals. Being one of Yamaha’s few opportunities to get people trying out the new models or to try and convert other brand owners over, you would think this event would be well publicized. Unfortunately, depsite ongoing probes with my dealer, this does not appear to be the case. The dates for Yamafest every year appear to be a better kept secret than your new “mystery sled”. Why is that? Although I was priviledged enough to be invited to the banquet last year, that’s not why I want to attend. Hell, open it up to all Yamaha owners in a community hall somewhere and I will gladly buy tickets for all of my guests attending. It is an opportunity for me to get off of the trails, ride with other Yamaha enthousiasts (for a change) and try out some of the new models. Is anybody listening Yamaha??? What a wasted opportunity! Could somebody please, PLEASE tell me what the dates for this event will be?

    Dates should be posted today, sorry for the delay cheers cr


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