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Archive for December, 2008

December 31, 2008

Predictions and Blogging

Well here we are, News Years eve and snow is again falling across most of the country. I’d like to say I’m heading out for a snowmobile adventure tonight but it ain’t gonna happen. We’re hooking up with some good friends at a local ski hill for family tubing on some pretty cool, fast runs. The kids will have a blast and truth be known, the tubing thing is pretty fun for dad as well.img_2567.JPG

Looking back 2008 has been a pretty good year for snowmobile junkies with the introduction of new iron from all four builders. In fact we have been on quite a roll, as an industry, for the past  several seasons. But I seriously wonder how much longer we can maintain this annual new product cycle.

Looking towards 2009 and the global economic slowdown, it is clear our industry will not come away unscathed. I have no idea how each snowmobile company will differ with regards to ‘tightening the belt’ and it will be very interesting to watch things begin to unfold starting on Monday, the first business day of the new year, and for some,  the first day of a new fiscal year (and budget).

I think we will witness some frustrating price increases throughout the entire motorsports industry including the after-market suppliers as companies play their cards, adjusting to currency fluctuations, soft markets and generally declining sales.

I also predict some of the planned new products which I assume our competition have in the wings (as well as Yamaha), may be delayed pending on the sell-through of current inventories and the internal efficiencies of the respective manufacturing and engineering groups. There will be a bit of a shell game going on as the marketing guys dig into the parts bins to create sizzle for the 2010 model line

I predict sled parts sales will be on the increase (based on last years snowfall and optimistically more of the same) as many riders will chose to maintain their current equipment in lieu of springing for a new sled.

I predict there will be restructuring announcements forthcoming from all the companies as manpower will be reassessed and assigned the difficult task of making more from less in a challenging economy. As my mentor used to jokingly say: ‘the best way to manage change is to change management…’ By the way, I must mention that my old friend and current boss, Peter Smallman-Tew was just promoted to the position of Vice President at YMCA… well earned and well deserved!

Finally I predict the snowmobile community as a whole will continue to thrive where many other non-essential activities will rust. Why? Because there is no other group I can think of that demonstrate more passion and commitment to their chosen sport than snowmobilers. Once bitten by the winter bug it is really hard to imagine remaining locked down in front of the tube for several months while mother nature (along with an amazing group of volunteers) create a spectacular playground all across the snow-belt.

I am also thinking I have to reassess what I’m doing on line here with SledTalk in 2009. My new duties at Yamaha are demanding more time and attention than ever before and I am finding it difficult and somewhat distracting to maintain the blog as I have in the past. I still strongly believe in the importance of large corporations such as Yamaha to break down some of the traditional walls and communicate with people directly by engaging in the many new on-line mediums available to us.

Maybe we need to have a company Facebook account or perhaps we jump on the latest wireless craze.

Does my little blog really make a difference? Probably not, but it does stand for something much bigger. It represents one companies recognition and desire to ‘connect’ with customers on-line on a much more personal level than can be done through traditional, top down, marketing methods I have yet to see this reflected by any of our competitors. For me that’s an important fact and a very good reason to keep this thing going… now more than ever. I just need to find a way.

In closing off this last post for 2008, I want to thank you for reading Sled Talk and wish all the best to you and yours for 2009.

Ride safe.

cheers cr

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Posted @ 7:24 pm in Opinions and Insights   

December 30, 2008

Avalanche Tragedy

I was stunned yesterday when I heard the news about a snowmobile tragedy out near Sparwood BC where eight men were killed in two separate  avalanches. In case you had not heard the details, the first avalanche trapped four riders out of the eleven riding in the area. The remaining seven were searching for the victims when a second slide came down on them.

Three guys were able to survive the second slide but were left stranded on the mountain. As of today seven of the missing eight sledders bodies have been recovered.

I followed the story on CBCNEWS.ca as the thought of this tragedy was eating at me. The coverage was as you would expect but the ensuing comments posted on the CBC site were thought provoking and in some cases downright disturbing.

I feel for the friends and families of the victims and offer my deepest sympathies. I also consider those lost trying to save their comrades to be ‘heroes’ not ‘foolish’ as some have posted on the CBC. These guys were experienced riders and well equipped according to the reports I have read. I have to say it repulses me to read comments from those who would turn this horrible event into a ‘ban snowmobiling’ political forum citing us all as irresponsible menace’s and a burden on society.

Helluva way to finish up 2008!


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Posted @ 4:03 pm in Industry News,Travel and Events   

December 16, 2008

Acronym Contest – Snowcross

Things are getting off to a good, snowy start here in southern Ontario. Many clubs are grooming and putting the final touches to the trail signage in anticipation of opening soon. Having said that, this time of year always requires additional caution. I won’t preach to the choir, just be extra careful if you are amongst the lucky few who are riding already.

sx1.jpgThe weekend provided another opportunity for the factory snowcross team to test their mettle. Steve Taylor made the main and ran with the pack for the full twenty laps. Iain Hayden actually posted some of the fastest lap times of the day only to be denied after he popped his shoulder out on a high speed uphill, bail-off. Andre assures me that Iain is still fit to race. The shoulder injury is an old one that, painful as it is, can be forced back into place being not much the worse for wear. Andre actually tried to set it himself track-side but was  unsuccessful,  relegating Iain to some more professional care at the local hospital. The Nytro’s received a bunch of tweaks following Spirit Mtn and showed vast improvements. Here’s the official release: round-2-isoc-yamaha-factory-team-press-release.pdf

Adam sent me a couple of interesting links from a European web-site. The concept appears to be similar to a road race course laid out through a ski-hill village dedicated to snowmobiles. The spectating would be fun with all the surrounding infrastructure and scenery and the course appears something any one of us could take on without being a full fledged athlete with a hi-buck sponsor.acronyms.jpg

Finally I had some good feedback on the Yamaha acronym challenge last week and am attaching the answer sheet. I have also added some of my own tongue in cheek descriptions to the meanings: acronyms-smb-2.xls

I’ll confirm the trivia master winners for you in my next post. Now turn off the computer, stop listening to the news and get outside for a ride already…

Cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:21 am in Competition and Racing,Opinions and Insights   

December 5, 2008

Yamaha Acronym Challenge

I thought it would be fun to scribe some of the many acronyms that we have used around here over the years. Yamaha is quite famous for taking different component descriptions and abbreviating them into simple letters for internal reference. It is not unusual for these labels to get adopted by marketing, service or sales and over time most have surfaced as either word of mouth or in print.

To make things interesting I am going to post my list containing 48 of these gems and see how many you might know. If you think you can identify a good number tell me how many (just the number will do) by way of the ‘comment’ box below and I’ll contact the highest bidders to confirm what each one represents.

In a couple of weeks I’ll post all the answers and award the two best guessers. Oh by the way I threw in a couplekit.jpg of general terms as well as a few service department references which require the ‘family edition’ response 😉

For the awards, I have a couple of the 40th anniversary collectors sets ‘up for grabs’ which consist of an FX Nytro 40th edition scale model nicely displayed in a plexi-case with two original pistons, one from the ’68 SL350 and the other from a 2008 FXNytro. Good luck and enjoy the memories…


Quick update on the SX race team. Duluth was an extreme challenge and they have decided not to travel up to the CSRA event in ‘the Soo’ this weekend, electing instead to spend all their time in testing and development… stay tuned.

Cheers.  cr

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Posted @ 12:40 pm in Opinions and Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

December 2, 2008

John Massingberd

…Steve Miller Band, ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ 1977

Okay, you can call me superstitious but last night I found myself suddenly awake. My old Lab, Soda, was barking from his bed in the basement, it was 4:00am and something was not right. I heard my wife make her way downstairs and the dogs whimpering subsided. Oddly enough, he has never done that before. I can’t get back to sleep, something is wrong…

My morning routine here at the office started off like most days. Boot the computer, grab a cup of Joe and check the ‘to-do’ list. As I reach for a pen I notice the red light of my voice-mail message alert is glowing. As I listened to the words  my heart began to sink before the bad news was even delivered.

The snowmobiling community lost a truly great supporter last night and I lost an old friend. Many of you have seen the television show ‘Snowtrax TV’ and will remember big John Massingberd, the executive producer and for many years, the show’s amiable host.  John, thank you for your gifts you will be missed by many (including your old pal Soda, he always lit up whenever he saw you…)

Here is John’s bio in his own words:

Full Name:
John Massingberd

Your Role on the Show:
Host/Executive Producer/Truck Driver

How did you connect with Snow Trax?:
Been here since the beginning! Too stupid to get a real job!

# of Years in the saddle:
First ride was in 1968 on a Ski-Doo Olympique! My best friend and I proceeded to run over all the neighbors gardens! Suffice to say we were in deep $hit that night!

Favorite Sled Last Year and Why:
While I rode a SabreCat 700 EXT most of last season, Our Yamaha Venture 120 was an absolute standout. This sled surprised everyone on the crew Great engine, terrific suspension, a very well rounded package! Plus it was our Snowtrax Real World Sled of the Year for 2005!

What are you looking forward to this year? (Destination/Sled):
Everything! I love everything we do in this show, even truck driving, cant wait to get on the road again!

Most breathtaking destination so far:
I like them all! Every place we go offers something different, which for me is the appeal of snowmobiling

Where is your ultimate destination of choice?:
I would still like to ride in the shadow of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota!john.gif

What you LOVE about snowmobiling:
Friends! It’s all about the people you meet, and the friendships you forge! There are no better people than Snowmobilers!

What you would CHANGE about snowmobiling:
We need to get more young people involved in the sport! This is a lifestyle where you can ride ’till the day you die!

… ride on John



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Posted @ 11:06 am in Yamaha People and Communication