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March 16, 2010

Avalanche Tragedy – Testing

As most of you will know by now, there was a terrible avalanche at the Big Iron Shootout on Boulder Mountain in Revelstoke last weekend. (Note: The Big Iron is not an organized event but an annual gathering of riders intent on challenging the hill and each other in some unofficial runs.) I have known some big slides over the years but never one that came down in front of so many sleds. The fact that only two lives were lost can be attributed to many of the riders being avalanche aware (educated) and prepared to deal with such an event. The reason I say this is because of the unlikelihood of anyone in the media recognizing the fact that the risks assumed by many mountain riders are very calculated and acknowledged with formal training and safety equipment. They would much rather paint the picture of a bunch of yahoos running amok in the mountains as they call on governments and law enforcement for restrictions. The efforts of the survivors should be applauded as they were prepared and able to save the lives of many. That said, our hearts go out to the families of the two men who lost their lives.

Last week was interesting, Jon, Richard and I traveled to our testing center in Wisconsin to evaluate some future projects and discuss everything from the new Apex release to the latest accessories plans. The testing was difficult due to the trail conditions. We ran a section outside of Hurley which ranged from mush to muck with lots of rocks popping up, sink holes with sucker snow on the edges ready to pull you off the trail if you tried to hug the sides… The test terminated in a freshly plowed logging block with skidder tracks deep enough to swallow a snowmobile. Given the conditions the sleds ran great, I’m just glad it wasn’t mine!

Next week I am heading for what will likely be my last ride of the season. There is still lots of snow in northern Japan and I’ll be doing planes / trains and automobiles for at least 48 hours of the trip… Will make a point of snapping a couple of pics for Sled Talk and visiting my most favorite sushi bar in the world in honor of Karl Ishima, who will retire the end of this month.

Karl is the father of the Bravo and both VK models. He was also influential on the SnoScoot project, Vmax 4 (from his post in the USA) the OMP that almost was and the RX-1.
It would be great to get some comments from people that have owned any of the above mentioned snowmobiles as I want to put together a little presentation for his retirement party… anyone have any farewell wishes for one of our most seasoned engineers?

cheers
cr

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17 Responses to “Avalanche Tragedy – Testing”

  1. Greg says:

    Ya – he was very influential. owned most of those sleds at one time or another and they were all great.

    Yamaha should really bring back the Sno Scoot. It was ahead of its time….

    Trust me that one has been suggested… too bad all the tools and molds were destroyed… cheers cr

  2. Justin says:

    Chris,

    Please thank him. Please tell him that we have all enjoyed the fruits of his labor, and tell him to enjoy his retirement.
    Have a safe trip and thanks again for the blog.

    Justin

  3. John says:

    Owned alot of those sleds in Karl’s resume.

    But the v max 4’s bring back the fondest memories….

    The “max” was the start of putting Yamaha back in charge!!

  4. snoguzzler says:

    I second the “bring back the Sno Scoot!” chant. I’ve had a Bravo and it treated me great for alot of years. What was the OMP that almost was? I clicked the link but it asked for a password?

    Thanks SG, I fixed the link… cheers cr

  5. DoktorC says:

    That’s an impressive list of sled Karl has worked on!! The bravo has to be one of if not THE longest running models in the history of snowmobiles, virtually unchanged from ’82-2011. Sno-Scoot…How about predicting the future of snowmobiling?? Well played, sir! Then to top it off, two absolute (to borrow a phrase here) Game Changers. One that begins and defines the “hyper” sled segment and the other that changes the direction of the snowmobiling forever. Not a bad resume…..

  6. rightarm says:

    Hello CR,the event that happened at “TM” is very unfortunate and my prays go out to all,but from what I read today there will be several civil lawsuits against the snowmobile club that organized the event and possible the B.C. goverment.That said I hope that this does not force the cancellation of back country riding,only time will tell.

    It’s great to hear that Yamaha continues to test product and continuously strive to make there snowmobiles the best on snow,big shout out to all involved at Yamaha keep up the awesome job!:)

    And last but not least my thank you to “Karl san” for building the RX1,the feeling I get in the first 5 minutes of riding most will never experience in a lifetime.Enjoy your retirement and know this, that you will be missed but not forgotten your spirit will live through your designs and vision.

    “KANDU”

  7. steve roberts says:

    Hey,more great info Chris. been riding my 98 VK 54011 (28000KM) since my family made my 92 Exciter 11 impractical. I named it Boris Yeltsin after seeing a clip with the Russian PM on one. A 2003 VK ( 5400 km) complemented the 98 when my kids needed to drive . Its name is Tonita after my wifes love of the unique caliber of snowmobiling these sleds offer( we pond hop, my Ontario slang for backcountry)Thanks to your blog I now am able honor Karl Ishima in naming my upcoming VK Pro. My Yamahas..Boris Yeltsin,Tonita and Karl Ishima. Vk 540 11,Vk540111 and VK Pro.Thanks to Arnprior Sportland , my favorite store since 1980.

  8. 8BU says:

    Hi Chris,

    Why are the Bravo and the VK not on the U.S. website but on the Canada Yamaha website? There is a dealer here in Wisconsin that is selling two 2011 Bravos. You never see any advertizing for these models in the U.S.

    I have often reminded our friends at YMUS about the potential of work (I prefer the term multi-purpose) sleds, especially considering Alaska is part of the union and have even volunteered to take over the Alaska market for them 😉 … end of the day when sales started to drop off in the south 48, they never looked back on the multi-purpose models, now we need every sale we can get but they are barely on the radar. Seems everything is currently focused on hi-performance / hi-priced hardware.
    It is my understanding that Americans seldom ride more than two hours and prefer short bumpy rides, that is why everyone down there insists on lightweight snocross models for the trail, I had this confirmed again last week when I did an impromptu poll, the key players all said they would take a Nytro over a VectorFI in the mid-west… it’s all about the sizzle I guess, sorry for the rant cheers cr

  9. Zak says:

    The SnoScoot was probably the snowmobile that made me really love riding sleds. I dont ever remember having more fun on any snowmobile since then and I have had a lot of great times on snowmobiles…they were a riot! Just like all my other yamis, I beat the hell out of them and they kept asking for more….I, like many people out there I am sure, are always looking to pick one up and I too wish they re-released it. Sad to hear all the molds and tooling are gone….sad indeed…

  10. Low Slung says:

    I couldn,t agree more with your thoughts on the media coverage of the tragic events in B.C.Lets pray for the victims familys and hope they get the support they need from the snowmobile community which i know will support them.As for the media,the last time i checked snowmobiling was not a crime,but a choice.I chose to be a snowmobiler,and live the life of a snowmobiler,theres no crime in that.Switching gears me and 7skulls got to ride the groomed trails of central newfoundland last week and racked up more miles in two days than all of this winter.Lots of snow,cool temps,and great trails,plus we pulled the trigger on a demo venture MP(great riding 2up sled)which leads me to a question.Was there every a plan to install a 300cc single or twin in the bravo trapper(LT)?

    There were of course discussion but never really got close, we were looking at alternative chassis, the leaf spring front was a deal breaker.. cheers cr

  11. Stephen Burdick says:

    Chris,

    I have owned every one of those sleds mentioned. The VK540 I used to groom trails in NH when I lived there, the bravo was my first real sled, I picked up a 1992 VMax-4 as a collectors item for my collection of yamaha sleds, and I have a 2003 RX-1 that I bought brand new when I lived on the east coast. Still have the VMax-4 and the RX-1. ALL GREAT MACHINES in their own rights. Let him know he made an influential impact on the history of snowmobiling, enough so, that I believe the Vmax-4 and RX-1 will likely find their home in MANY of the vintage snowmobile collectors around the USA and Canada.

    My heart goes out to the ones that lost their lives in Revy. I love riding there and will likely bring something up on the hill to pay my respects when I ride there in a few weeks.

    -Steve

  12. Ike says:

    Hey there CR!

    Nice to know that there is more on the future from Yamaha! And my question is kinda related to that :

    Is the productplanning / testing all doen at Canada – Japan test sites? Do you guys still come to scandinavia for testing? I know that few years back there was some japaneese guys with unmarked sleds going around here and doing some head to head testing in various trailconditions.

    And still, please lenghten the wheelbase of the Nytro. Even with the new geometry it is a handfull compared to some other OEM´s sleds. The first protos were really good, but who made the change to the compleat product?!? And it´s not the first time the protos and consumer model are so much different. I just remember the first RX-1 proto which was lighspeed fast. It beat the awesome ´01 SRX like it was tied to a tree. Consumer ones weren´t that fast though. And if you guys ever need a volunteer to test some sleds over here, give me a call ; )

    Ike

  13. Scott says:

    The Bravo was the first snowmachine I ever rode. I was in 8th grade and our neighbors up the street had one. I remember my brother, his friend and myself, taking turns and riding the Bravo around and around in circles on a vacant house lot. It was so fun!

    I recall it took me a little while to get used to it as I kept tipping over. After that experience my Dad bought my brother and I used snowmachines the following winter. I’ve never really thought about it, but from that one ride on a Bravo, my interest and enthusiam for snowmachining has never waivered. I’ve owned sleds and have been riding since 1985. Pretty crazy, that’s 25 years!

    Now I like backcountry riding and racing my Nytro and Vector and do things on them that you are not supposed to do because they are “too heavy”. 🙂

  14. IveyRider says:

    I can thank the sno-scoot for teaching my kids really truley understand how to ride a real sled. They are grown now and both are good responsible riders. My daughter is 17 on an 07 Phazer, My son 20 on an 02 Viper(unless he is on my Apex). I will never forget the first night I let her putt across the lake with me to our favorite spot for Pizza! She pulled up to the Lake view windows and did a couple of do-nuts for the boys watching from inside! Talk about a proud Papa! Long live the Scoot!

    Very cool, I’m at the same place with my daughter… cheers cr

  15. bob c says:

    wow,that is quite the list.The bravo,he should be proud of that just alone!!Still one of the best sled ever built imo.Can you imagine how many people you got started in our sport??Then the sno scoot,again a machine that people still look to buy to this day!!

    All I can say is thank-you sir,and have a great life now!!

  16. Chris Brace says:

    Chris-

    Thank you for taking the time to have this avenue for input, and for sharing the news about Mr. Ishima’s retirement. Please pass on to Mr.Ishima my thanks for his insight and vision. I hope that he enjoys his well-earned freedom in retirement.

    I just bought my first Bravo (’93) last month and the kids and I have had a blast with it in the fields and woods. I’m working on getting approval form the wife for a 2011 Bravo LT here in Michigan.

    Also, please make sure that Mr. Ishima gives someone the drawings for the SnoScoot! Even if the tooling is gone, the market is clearly void of a sled that bridges the gap between the 120 kids sled and the smallest full size model. I see Yamaha has 125cc four-stroke scooters in production – PLEASE let the next generation of sled engineers start working on putting their drivelines into the SnoScoot II!! Kids (young and not-so young) across the world are counting on them…

    Hey Chris, thanks so much for your comments, I have just arrived at my hotel outside of Tokyo en route to our Hokaido test center, was thinking about Karl and putting some words together for him, checked to blog and found your remarks… it’s 5:30am at home and i’ve just pulled an all-nighter but its 6:30pm here so I’m gonna grab some sushi and Asahi and give it some more thought…. cheers cr

  17. Dave C. says:

    Hope Karl enjoys his retirement,while I was @ Bender Racing I had the opportunity to talk to him….


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