The first time Dennis told me about Arctic Man, I thought he was joking. Right. A skier zooms straight down a mountain, gets towed by a snowmachine up another mountain at 80 mph or so, and then skis straight down it.
Somehow, I envisioned hills, not actual mountains. The first time we attended was in 1991. It was fun and exciting. We immediately noticed that nobody had snowmachines as old as ours were.
Dennis went to Arctic Man again in 1992 and we both went in 1993. Summit Lake Lodge burned in the mid-1990s. In 2002, we flew over the new parking pad and took photos from the air. So many people! As many as 13,000 people come to enjoy great snow and great fun for a week in the middle of nowhere. Arctic Man's parking pad becomes the 4th largest city in the state for a few days every spring!
The race begins on top of a 5,800-foot peak. Skiers drop 1,700 feet in less than two miles. At the bottom of the first mountain, a snowmachining partner hands the skier a rope and tows him up another mountain at 80 mph+. The fastest part of the race is the uphill section! The skier is released at the top, then schusses another 1,200 feet to the finish line. The course is 5.5 miles long. The 4-minute barrier was broken by three teams in 2013. The record fell again in 2018—3:48.83 minutes, with the second place team a mere .36 seconds behind. "It was an electrifying end to one of North America's most extreme sports," wrote a reporter. That was the final ski / snowmachine race, although the event continues. It was canceled in 2020 due to COVID.
After we read Jack and Rita Stout's story about Arctic Man in their book Adventures and Misadventures in 2012, we decided to head over to Arctic Man to say hello. We didn't catch our friends "home" (at the motor home) but we saw the race, watched the Hillcross, and returned the next day to see Snowcross, drag races and a freestyle exhibition. It was fun. The spring snow was great. Kids and parents were outside enjoying spring sunshine together. It was quintessentially American.
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