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Archive for June, 2008

June 19, 2008

Randy Swenson – First Ascents

There is no doubt working at Yamaha is a very cool job and career choice, consequently we have attracted some very passionate, keen individuals over the years. I am dedicating this weeks post to one of them.2008-randy-enters-the-snatch.jpg

I first met Randy Swenson over 20 years ago when he was the Yamaha accessories rep for western Canada and I was working for the Yamaha Shop in Vernon BC. It wasn’t long after that I took a position with Yamaha, moved to Vancouver and hooked up with Randy on weekends as well as for business trips. He was heavily into motorcycle road racing at the time and I spent a few days at the track watching him lap along with some other young upstarts like Pacific Yamaha’s, Steve Crevier. That first winter I convinced him to come do some sleddin’ with me in Prince George, apparently he enjoyed himself!

2008-randy-leaves-fuji-snatch.jpgWe also dove headfirst into the relatively new sport of mountain biking and would hook up with some other Westwood throttle twisters to bomb the creek beds and trails at the base of Grouse and Seymour mountains in North Vancouver, the same areas which are now renowned by free-riders as mountain bikings mecca … the North Shore.fuji-in-sweny-street.jpg

I soon learned to respect Randy’s natural athletic abilities, his quick eye-hand and fearless commitment to the ‘line’ which I credit a lot to his early years of down-hill ski competition. The other notable trait that I recognized in Randy is his calm but confident demeanor or more simply, his ‘walk softly and carry a big stick‘ approach to competition (and life in general).

The only time I ever saw fear on his face was during a shared vacation in Jamaica where we found ourselves well lubricated and perched atop the rocky bluffs at the famous Ricks Cafe. Our pal, Richard Irwin another Yamaha throttle twisting employee, had challenged us to dive into the briny, boiling surf at the base of the cliff. Richard dove gracefully into the 100 foot void leaving Randy and I to ponder our fate. He took one look over the edge and slowly sat down on the rock shaking his head, I had indulged in slightly more of the local spirit and proceeded to jump giving myself a refreshing Jamaican enema in the process…

superchute.jpgFast forward to the spring of 2002. I was in Calgary Alberta for a Star motorcycle event and got with Randy to discuss his latest sled project. He had been riding modified Mountain Max’s and SRX’s for the past few seasons and had the idea to take one of our new 4-stroke RX-1’s to build a hill climber. He called Project 101, ‘Got Boost’. Randy had been in contact with a Swedish motorcycle performance company, MC Xpress to discuss the feasibility of adding a turbo-charger to the new RX-1. The rest as they say, is history and I give Randy a lot of credit for being a pioneer of what has become the dominating force in snowmobile mountain climbing: four-stroke, turbo-charged Yamaha mod’s.

The ‘game’ now, for a select few, is the ‘first ascent’. Finding a slope that has never been scaled by a sled, nailing it inrand-in-fuji-snatch.jpg front of the camera and in recognition, naming the run, the honor of which, reserved for the conquerer. Randy has several first ascents to his title and the following report of his latest conquest recently came in from him (after a little prodding) as a segue to the next feature film in the Thunderstruck series to be released later this summer. Here’s what Randy has to say:

“After looking at this chute the entire year I finally decided it was go time. It is 3000 feet long and a vertical of around 2500′.
In comparison, “The “Monster”, which I think all of you know on Boulder, is under 1500 feet long and a vertical of just over 1,000’……….so that is why I named it this new one “Super Chute”!

superscute2.jpgThe start zone was at 4400′ and end was 6900+……the longest vertical our producer knows of.

I flew into it 2 weeks ago in helicopter just to check it out from bottom to top.

Three issues arose:

How do I get my sled into the bottom of it?
Will I fit through the rock wall ‘bottleneck’ near the top?
Will my sled blow a belt / overheat / blow the intercooler off…… or just fail??

D-day, I dropped into the drainage chute……..kinda like going down the Monster……..2 of the support crew that followed crashed going down with me……we flew one sled off the hill due to severe damage!!…….LOL.

(more…)

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Posted @ 11:37 am in Competition and Racing,Yamaha People and Communication   

June 10, 2008

Social Media – Staff event

Uh Oh, I am wayyyy overdue for a blog update. Something happened between my new job assignment and the black flies arriving up at the lake. I am going to play catch-up today and post a bunch of non-sled related stuff, just to let you know what I’ve been up to. Next week I’ll tell you about another ‘first ascent’ by my old friend and all around Yamaha good-guy, Team Thunderstruck rider, Randy Swenson… Imagine riding a 4000sleddin-in-june.jpg foot hill with 3000 feet of vertical change… stay tuned…

Heres a pic of Randy taken this past weekend (June 8) gotta love it!)

I spent a very interesting couple of days at the annual MESH web-conference in Toronto. I was invited to participate as a ‘panelist’, a direct result of penning this blog. I have maintained the view that I have have a reasonable grasp and understanding of what social media and networking is all about but after sitting with this group for two days, I realize I am a complete newbie geek. I have never seen so many people using hi-tech gadgets simultaneously, most of which having an ‘i’ attachment, connected, uploading, Twittering, capturing content and communicating.

The thrust of the conference was aimed at the ‘open web’. Where is it all going? What ‘start-up’ will be the next FaceBook? How will content sharing co-exist with copyright? How will big business / enterprise integrate and participate?

It was the ‘enterprise and social media’ session where I found myself in front of this group on a panel with Natalie, the brains behind the GM corporate blog (which features Bob Lutz) and Jennifer, a very forward thinking lady representing Harlequin publishing.

Now I know none of you have ever seen or read a Harlequin romance novel (and if you have, I don’t want to know about it) but it was interesting to consider their demographic (99% female) and ours being predominantly male sitting with General Motors who are everything to everyone…

I almost started a ‘Jerry Springer’ scene when I suggested some companies (re: Yamaha), still have to maintain some level of ‘control’ when it comes to social media and employee participation in representing said company. Our session went overtime and could have kept going… maybe next year!

tapatoo-159.jpgThe following week was spent hunkered down at Tapatoo Resort in Parry Sound with alltapatoo-143.jpg of our field staff for meetings and demo riding all the new products (except the new VMAX) which were launched on Friday. I posted a bunch of pics over on our Bike blog and Dave Shepherd penned a recap of the event.

I now find myself in Sudbury, attending a regional meeting with our northern Ontario dealers to discuss the new products, market details… then its home to another conference next week. Wishing I could go out to visit Randy again…

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Posted @ 1:27 pm in Opinions and Insights,Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication