THE CHANGING FACE OF SNOWMOBILING
Regular readers of Supertrax know I've been crowing about the emergence of the “Free Rider” and his or her predisposition to ride off-trail with different expectations than those of past participants.
I've heard positively from younger riders - exactly the demographic our sport is looking to attract and I've also heard from snowmobilers of the median and older age demographic who disagree with my assertion we should try to embrace the freeriding legions.
Interesting to me that those who think we shouldn't embrace any attempt to accommodate the freeriding demo offer up virtually no alternatives. Before you fire up your keyboard with hate mail, let me explain.
This emerging demographic is exactly what the sport must attract for longterm sustainability. We need these younger, affluent participants. We need them badly and we need them now.
Does this make older, traditional snowmobilers bad people? No and in fact we must tread carefully here. The sport would not be what it is without this important generation of trail building, trail riding, club-centric participants.
Truth is, we need these people to teach younger participants about trails, land use, land access, grooming, trespassing and dozens of other foundational issues surrounding the sport.
Unfortunately, an amicable marriage of the older with the younger isn't happening.
I attend a number of snowmobiling events each year that revolve around state and provincial trail sanctioning and governance. Important issues of trail funding and trail development, groomer purchasing and groomer funding are just a few of the issues these high level meetings wrestle with.
Sadly, the average age at many of these forums continues to climb year after year. That's not to say there isn't new, younger blood emerging, but the new blood we'’re seeing isn't in the volume needed to ensure our sport remains the number one trail based motorized recreation in North America.
On the up side, we're seeing a healthy increase in younger participants on the trail the past five winters as well as younger participants bolstering our social media channels here at Supertrax Media Inc, which is both encouraging and exciting.
Here's where it's not so good: I talk to these younger riders all season long on the trail, in pit stops and at events. They are passionate about snowmobiling but many don't appreciate the current rejection of their interpretation of the sport. They want to know what's next for snowmobiling. In reality they are already defining the "what’s next" without the support or approval of the sport's stalwart, mature demographic.
There's another issue with younger riders: Many in this generation have little free time and as a result are not interested in attending meetings and conventions or contributing to the betterment of the sport's most important asset, trails.
To maintain lifestyles, moms and dads work full time. Snowmobiling is still part of their lifestyle but the time required to take on club leadership just isn't there. Instead, many would rather pay more for trails and not be expected to contribute to their sustainability the way the older generation has.
Frankly, time is flying by. Trails are being lost from inconsiderate, unregulated, illegal off trail riding. At the same time little direction or answers have come from state and provincial sanctioning bodies to manage the much maligned, growing snowmobile genre called "freeriding" - unless you count "no" as an answer.
While this is going on, the people we've taken for granted who anchor the sport from the club and association level are getting older and less likely to continue working.
With sales of freeriding sleds and flatland deep snow sleds growing every year, it's time to look the new and changing face of the sport straight in the eye.
More Like This
UPCOMING SNOWTRAX AIRTIMES
LATEST VIDEOS View All
Full REVIEW: 2018 Polaris 600 RUSH XCR
April 3, 2018
In our closing Test Ride of the season, AJ squeezes the fun flipper as he reviews the spirited ...
2018 Revolutionary Advanced Design Award
April 2, 2018
The SnowTrax tradition of recognizing technological innovations in the snowmobile universe ...
2018 Real World Sled of the Year
April 1, 2018
The final snowmobile showdown of the 2018 Season commences. . .
Woody's Traction Snowmobile Stud Comparison
March 28, 2018
AJ gets some help from Woody’s as he reveals some eye-opening results on the advantages of ...
MBRP's Arctic Cat 800 C-TEC2 Trail & Race Exhaust Review
March 27, 2018
AJ reviews MBRP’s latest Trail and Race performance exhausts which are designed specifically ...
Top Gear View All
March 26, 2018
WOODY'S TWIST SCREWS
Get a grip! And we mean that literary with Woody's Twist Screws.
Ask Motorhead View All
March 30, 2018
ENDURO SUSPENSION CONFUSION
Motorhead Mark weighs in on a reader's problem finding the most compliant suspension settings on his Ski-Doo Enduro...
Press Releases View All
March 29, 2018
TEAM ARCTIC SETS HISTORIC WIN PERCENTAGES DURING 2018 SNOWMOBILE RACE SEASON
Team Green Captures More than 60 Percent of all Class wins, 50 Percent of all Podiums and 75 percent of all Championship Titles in ...
Tourism View All
March 21, 2018
Québec Original – Ride Where the Passion Began
Ask any rider anywhere and they’ll tell you: When it comes to snowmobiling, Québec is the best place on earth!