January 2013 Newsletter

January 2013 Newsletter

7 Foot Wide Trailer Trend

Traditionally, snowmobile trailers have been 8.5 foot wide highboys, with lots of space to load your sleds side by side. But a new trend has been emerging -- the seven foot wide inline enclosed trailer.

There are many things to consider when buying a snowmobile trailer, explains Steve Whittington, trailer division manager for Flaman Trailers. An important factor is cost, and a seven foot wide trailer can be more cost effective than the traditional highboy.

"Seven foot wide enclosed trailers are very popular," says Whittington. "Because of that, manufacturers mass produce the same axle base and frame. Running gear can be an expensive part of trailer, but the higher volume brings the cost down compared to a highboy trailer. Seven foot wide trailers are also smaller, so there is less material."

The size of the trailer makes it easier to tow than a highboy. Whittington explains because of its narrow width and lowered height, the seven foot wide trailer drafts behind the truck with less wind resistance, giving you better gas mileage. "The trailer fits behind the vehicle in the slipstream and it will tow better," he says.

One of the biggest benefits of the seven wide trailer is its versatility. After snowmobile season is over, you can use the trailer for a lot more. "It's a great size for hauling cargo, especially with both the front and back access ramp," says Whittington. "With the lower deck, a contractor could easily load equipment or tools in the trailer."

If you need a sled trailer, but also need a trailer for other uses, consider the 7 foot wide inline option.

Sled'N Snap

Do you love snowmobiling? Do you want to win some great prizes? Snap a photo and you could win!

Once again, you can submit your best snowmobiling photos online for the chance to win a trailer! Visit www.slednsnap.com to enter this year's Sled'N Snap photo contest. This exciting photo contest is brought to you by the Flaman Group of Companies and Snowmobilers of Manitoba. Entering is easy: sign up for an account, and all winter long capture your favourite sledding moments and upload them to the website in a variety of categories.

Just by entering you could win an Aluma 2-place aluminum tilt trailer. Or you could win the Grand Prize: the use of an amazing aluminum enclosed sled trailer for one year! There are also other prizes from your local association. Photos will be judged by an association panel and the public will vote for the grand prize winner.

Sled'N Snap is your destination website for all things snowmobiling. You can check out the trail maps, safety and riding tips and event calendar. It's a way for snowmobilers across Manitoba to share memories and common experiences. You can leave comments on photos or share pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

Enter your photos today! The submission period ends March 31.

To be eligible for any prizes, entrants must have a registered sled. For more information, visit www.slednsnap.com.

Why People Snowmobile

The main reasons people snowmobile, according to a Montana State University study and research conducted by Consumer Insights include:

  • To view the scenery
  • To be with friends
  • To get away from usual demands of life.
  • To do something with their family
  • To be close with nature.

There are more than four million snowmobilers in Canada and the United States.

Surveys show that over 94.5% of snowmobilers consider it a family activity. The majority of snowmobile owners are married and have children.

Snowmobiling appeals to people of all ages - from youngsters to senior citizens. Studies reveal that snowmobilers generally ride close to home. On day trips, snowmobilers typically travel 30 to 75 miles to favorite riding areas or on favorite trails. There is a growing interest in touring - spending several nights traveling, shopping, dining and sleeping along the way. However, for overnight trips, distances traveled normally range between 100 and 150 miles per day.

Although primarily a recreational activity, snowmobiling also provides many other useful functions. In remote portions of Canada and the U.S., snowmobiles are some citizens' primary source of transportation. Snowmobiles are relied upon by law enforcement units throughout the snowbelt for search and rescue work and emergency missions. They are used also by surveyors, ranchers, public utility employees, environmental and wildlife scientists and countless others. Ski-touring centers across North America utilize snowmobiles for trail grooming and track setting. Snowmobiles are also widely used by cross-country ski race officials, dog sled races, and by ski patrols for rescue purposes.

Safe Riders Pledge


  • I will never drink and drive a snowmobile.
  • I will drive within the limits of my machine and my own abilities.
  • I will obey the rules and laws of the state or province I am visiting.
  • I will be careful when crossing roads, and always cross at a right angle to traffic.
  • I will keep my machine in top shape and follow a pre-op check before each ride.
  • I will wear appropriate clothing, including gloves, boots and a helmet with a visor.
  • I will let family or friends know my planned route, my destination and my expected arrival time.
  • I will treat the outdoors with respect. I will not litter or damage trees or other vegetation.
  • I will respect other peoples' property and rights, and lend a hand when I see someone in need.
  • I will not snowmobile where prohibited.

International Snowmobile Safety Week 2013

The four snowmobile manufacturers are please to support and encourage participation in the upcoming International Snowmobile Safety Week January 13-19-2012. Snowmobilers have placed safe, responsible snowmobiling at the top of their list for years and have made great strides in safety education and enforcement. Snowmobile safety is a year around project that is supported by safety trainers, clubs, associations, enforcement officials, dealers and the manufacturers throughout the world.

In 1995 the snowmobile community joined together and developed the Safe Riders! You make snowmobiling safe™ safety campaign, and since its inception, literally millions of pieces of information have been distributed throughout the marketplace, encouraging and insisting on safe snowmobiling behavior. The Safe Riders! DVD is used by safety trainers throughout the world. In addition to the safety DVD, the manufacturers have also developed radio and TV public service announcements reminding snowmobile enthusiasts of the need to snowmobile responsibly and safely. Also available are the Snowmobiling Fact Book, and Snowmobile Safety brochure.

The Safe Riders! campaign focuses on key areas of concern that are the major causes of snowmobile accidents. Those key issues are depicted in our snowmobiling safety posters (also available free of charge from the ISMA Office) and include:

  • Snowmobiling and alcohol don't mix, don't drink and ride
  • Know before you go, always check local ice conditions
  • When night riding, slow down, always expect the unexpected
  • Ride safe, stay on the trail, always respect private property
  • Cross roads with care, don't become road kill
  • Ride smart, ride right, always stay in control.
  • One is the loneliest number, never ride alone
  • Know the risks and be prepared, make every trip a round trip (be avalanche smart).

If you manage a club or local snowmobile association and are interested in participating in the International Snowmobile Safety Week, we have available the Safety Week Campaign Action Manual on our web site www.snowmobile.org. The manual provides tips on how to organize a local safety campaign and promote the Safe Riders! position. (Tip: We encourage snowmobile safety year around and if the weather doesn't cooperate we always encourage you to promote safety in your area any time during the year.)

If any snowmobile enthusiast, manager, club president, or safety trainer is interested in obtaining any of the free Safe Riders! information for distribution, please contact the ISMA Office at (517) 339-7788 for an order form. The order forms can also be requested through the ISMA web site at www.snowmobile.org.

It is important that all of us remember to be safe riders and that only we TOGETHER make snowmobiling safe. Encourage and insist on proper behavior by your family and friends while snowmobiling, and with Mother Nature certain to provide us with great snowmobiling conditions.....eventually......this winter, let's always remember the safety guidelines that are so important to keep our winter recreation of choice alive.

More Than Just Great Riding

Fresh white snow sculpted into winter's finest designs, crisp clean air, the warmth of the sun on your face and the scent of jack pine - all beckoning you to a Whiteshell winter adventure. Winter is an exciting season to discover one of Manitoba's premier outdoor recreation playgrounds.

Located only one and a half hours from Winnipeg via the Trans Canada Highway #1, Highway #44 or Highway #307, Whiteshell Provincial Park offers a great cure for the winter blues. Your own winter adventure in the Whiteshell could include sledding over the 250 kilometres of groomed snowmobile trails through the striking terrain of the Canadian Shield. For snowmobilers, this extensive network of trails leads you across frozen lakes and rivers, quaint jack pine forests, rugged snow-capped granite ridges and spectacular scenic overlooks. However, it's not so simple to create this amazing experience for winter visitors.

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear every December in the Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship offices is "there's snow and ice - why haven't the trails opened yet?"

It's not an easy question to answer. A lot of work is done every fall and early winter preparing snowmobile trails to ensure that Whiteshell Provincial Park is a premier snowmobiling destination in North America. The season begins even before the leaves start to turn colour. Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship employees take to the skies in late summer and fly over the trails in helicopters and airplanes, observing areas of trails that will need work, such as clearing wind-swept trees and flooded areas from beaver dams. As soon as the leaves start to turn colour, workers take to the trails cutting shrubs and trees and erecting new signs.

This year has been particularly challenging, due to a heavy snowfall on October 4. This snowstorm brought millions of trees crashing down across the eastern region of Manitoba. The Whiteshell was particularly hard hit - every single trail and route had to be cleaned of fallen and broken trees, a challenging task. Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship employees have spent numerous clearing all the trails - a task that is expected to continue throughout the winter season as trees continue to snap and fall in their weakened state.

Luckily, the weather has been co-operating this fall - with little snowfall in November and December, it has allowed easier access for work crews to clear the fallen trees.

Cold temperatures and little snowfall also help freeze lakes and swamps. Because of the rocky terrain of the Whiteshell, most trails follow swamps and cross lakes and rivers. The water crossings are in designated areas, and need to be marked accordingly. Another task is marking these designated crossing corridors. This is done with the much appreciated and dedicated help of the Whiteshell Snowmobile Club's volunteers. Once the swamps and lakes have sufficient ice to travel by sled, trees and reflective stakes are erected across the ice to mark the trail crossings. With more than 30 lake and river crossings, this is a daunting task. Many of the larger lakes also form ice ridges, which need to be cut down with chainsaws and closely monitored to ensure safe crossings are possible.

Once trails are cleared and the lake and river crossing corridors are set up, staff start signing trails. Each year thousands of dollars are spent on new safety signs, to ensure that every curve, corner, bump and other hazards are clearly and safely marked. All of the Whiteshell snowmobile trails are designated Snofund trails; therefore the Province follows strict guidelines set out by Snoman (Snowmobilers of Manitoba Inc.). By following the Snoman trail signing guidelines, staff ensures that the Whiteshell trails are safe and enjoyable to ride. Once the trails are adequately signed and the lake and river crossing corridors are set, staff wait for the snow and ice to become adequate for grooming. In order to determine when the ice is safe to travel across with our grooming equipment, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship follows guidelines set by Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation that allow us to determine the load-bearing weight the ice can handle.

It is critically important to wait until the water crossings have thick enough ice before crossing lakes and rivers with the grooming equipment which weigh up to 16000 pounds. Trail groomers need to have at least 16" of good, hard blue ice before heading out on the frozen water crossings, ensuring the safety of groomer operators. Some water bodies reach this goal earlier than others depending on weather conditions, but one crossing with insufficient ice will delay the grooming and opening of the entire trail. Once there is an adequate snow base and good ice has formed on all the lakes and rivers, the trails can be safely groomed and the season is officially underway.

All this hard work in clearing trails, signing and waiting for sufficient snow and ice conditions takes time. Most years it is not until mid-January until the trails can be safely opened, depending on weather conditions. Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship works very hard to ensure that when the trails are opened, they are safe andamongst the most enjoyable trails to ride in North America. To provide a better idea as to the history of when trails have opened, here is a list of the dates from the previous 10 years.

Year Opening Date Year Opening Date
2011 January 21 2006 January 26
2010 February 4 2005 January 6
2009 January 7 2004 January 8
2008 January 17 2003 January 23
2007 January 11 2002 January 17

Once the groomers hit the trails the work keeps going to provide the smoothest possible trails. At any given time there can be at least four groomers working in the park, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the grooming takes place overnight, to avoid conflicts with the heavier use of the day time and allow for a firmer and higher quality snow base. Significant dollars have been spent in recent years on new grooming equipment to ensure that trails are maintained in the best shape possible.

A brand new Prinoth Husky groomer and drag has been purchased this year for the Seven Sisters area, to replace an old aging Massey tractor. A Prinoth Husky groomer was purchased for Falcon Lake last year and a Bombardier BR-180 groomer was purchased for Rennie a few years back. These three newest machines along with three older, smaller Bombardier SV Ski-dozers ensure that all areas of the park are groomed regularly.

Along with the groomers, other park maintenance staff conduct trail audits on a weekly basis to ensure trails are in tip-top shape and properly signed. Natural resource officers can often been seen along the trails ensuring snowmobilers are travelling safely, enjoying their ride and have a Snopass.

Numerous warming shelters are found throughout the park providing a chance to warm up around a crackling fire, enjoy a warm meal and sharing the day's adventures. These shelters are maintained by the Whiteshell Snowmobile Club. Volunteers of the club have recently built a brand new shelter near Zubec Lake, between Caddy and Star Lakes. The club is now focusing on building a new shelter at Swamp Lake.

All this hard work and close attention to details ensures that Whiteshell snowmobilers can ride all day long, enjoying the cool, crisp days of winter on some of the best trails in North America.

After a day of carving the snow, riders can stop in at the numerous lodges and businesses that are open yearround in the park, providing a variety of lodging options to suit your mood. They range from rustic to the most modern and offer all the amenities. Other services available to help make the sledding adventure as pleasant and safe as possible are restaurants, grocery stores, gas and service stations.

By joining the Whiteshell Snowmobile Club, you can help build and maintain warm-up shelters, sign trails, help with clearing trees and, most importantly, share in the pride of the trail network. Go online to whiteshellsnowmobileclub.ca to find out how you can get involved.

Trail condition reports are produced weekly to provide accurate riding expectations. For trail information and more information on Whiteshell Provincial Park, you can call the park interpreter's office at 204-369-3157, or visit ManitobaParks.com.

We value any feedback you have regarding snowmobile trails in Whiteshell Provincial Park. You can provide Manitoba Conservation with your comments and suggestions by emailing TrailsMBParksEast@gov.mb.ca.

For any questions you might have about snowmobiling and other winter adventures in Whiteshell Provincial Park, please call Sloan Cathcart, Senior Park Interpreter, at 204-369-3157 or connect by email at Sloan.Cathcart@gov.mb.ca.

Are you on Twitter? Share your winter adventure experiences in the Whiteshell and other provincial parks with others by tweeting with the hashtag #MBParks

Another Year Older

Here we are the start of another year and another winter with minimal snow cover and many of Manitoba's groomed trails are either partly open or still closed and not available to the sledders of Manitoba. Many of today's younger snowmobilers have never experienced the kind of conditions we used to have in the sixties and seventies (yes, okay I am dating myself). Back then, we did not have just cover, we had drifts and such deep snow that when you dismounted from your sled you sunk up to your waist (or more) in wonderful deep powder without having to go to the mountains. The number of groomed trails and organized snowmobile clubs were few. Machines were much lighter and simpler then, and the majority had limited power so getting stuck and unstuck was very much a common occurrence. One became quite skilled at packing a path in front of the sled so as to get going again. Back then, you had a plethora of manufacturers to choose from. Yes there was Polaris and Arctic Cat, and of course Ski-doo. Yamaha was just a small upstart expanding from the cycle world. Gone today are sled names like Scorpion, Kawasaki and Sno-Jet, Alouette, Moto-ski, Rupp, Brut, and Northrup and Mercury, Evinrude and Johnson and that rotary Wankel engine. Retailers like Sears and Eatons (Viking) offered Polaris clones, and even John Deere and Massey-Ferguson made more than snowthrowers and tractors, and who could forget the twin tracked Raider with the ads with Granny in the cockpit. Anyone seen an Eskimo, SnoHawk or Ski-Doo Elite recently? In the early seventies, you had nearly a hundred brands to pick from. Back then 40hp was a performance sled and extreme speed was hitting over 55 MPH. If your machine topped out at 70 or 80 MPH, it was a true test of skill of the experienced rider (while taking your life in your hands). Oh yes, gone are the days of boggie suspensions and cleated tracks, the spray can of starting fluid and Tillotson and Walbro carbs with your trusty screwdriver at hand and spare plugs by the bucketful. Thank goodness!

Times have changed; current designs yield greater speed and better handling and overall performance. Safety wasn't a big issue as helmets were a chunk of plastic that kept your head warm and frosted goggles kept your eyeballs from freezing. Back then, falling off a sled at 20 MPH and landing in 2 feet of powder usually didn't result in injury unless one hit something. As much as things have progressed some things are constant. Never sled alone, plan and share your trip in advance and have tools and parts at the ready. Make sure you have plenty of gas and oil, and that the machine is 100% and that includes the lights and brakes. Wear approved protective clothing that fits you, and take your cell phone. Ditch banging is fun, but with minimal snow cover, it is what's underneath; that can hurt both you and your sled! Groomed trails are the way to go, so chat with locals and get to know your regional conditions, and don't drive near open water and thin ice. Get your Snopass and stick to the trails and watch out for wildlife!

Forty years ago, hitting the trails with a bottle of booze and a snack was frowned upon by a few, and taking your sled to the local watering hole for a few brews was common practice. Today, we know better! Head injuries are the main cause of death and serious injury while operating or riding on a snowmobile. A Health Sciences Center study disclosed that between the years of 1988 to 1997, alcohol was associated with 88% of the snowmobile related injuries. Of the almost 300 incidents, 70.4% had BAC's of over .08%. Nationally, of all the snowmobile deaths (1987-1999) 71.2% had BAC's over the legal limit. We now know that blood alcohol levels of .08 to .10 are extreme. It is now proven that serious impairment begins at just .04 -.05 BAC. Today's snow machine require even greater skill and concentration, a simple twitch or slip and throttle squeeze could get you into serious trouble in a hurry, and cause serious pain and damage, and cost you big time. In Canada, 4 people die every day, and another 174 are injured, some more seriously, even permanently. Impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada, and the number 1 cause of death of Canadian Youth. Studies have shown that impaired driving costs Canadians over 20 Billion dollars annually! Yes, we can remember and cherish the good old days. Nostalgia is a curious thing, it usually has us recollect and recount things in a different, and more favorable light. Time has that effect on us. Snowmobile Safety week is January 15 thru to the 21st 2013, please don't take safety for granted. Practice safe sledding, always! When it comes to drinking, don't take chances, be responsible and save that drink for after you park your sled for night. You can relax at the fireside chat, as you wind down and share your riding tales with your buds. Please be responsible and don't make that last ride your final one!

Data sourced from "Alcohol, Trauma and Impaired driving 4th Edition, 2009" the most recent joint publication between MADD Canada, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) (Latest Version)

SAE Snowmobile Challenge for 2013

The Snowmobile Challenge for 2013 will be held March 4-9, 2013 at the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. This year 21 teams have registered for the event - the most ever in the history of the event!

The members of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (Arctic Cat, BRP, Polaris and Yamaha) are proud gold level sponsors of the event. Staff from all of the manufacturers will be involved in the event and many serve as judges and reviewers of the many activities.

The SAE Challenge includes such activities as:

  1. an endurance run from Houghton, MI to Copper Harbor
  2. technical presentations regarding emissions and design presentations
  3. a subjective handling event
  4. an acceleration test
  5. scientific testing for emissions levels and sound

Further information on the Snowmobile Challenge can be found at www.mtukrc.org.