Polaris Terrain Domination Includes Victories in Snocross, Hillclimb and the Grueling Iron Dog Cross-Country Race Across Alaska
Polaris Terrain Domination extends from the snocross tracks to the hillclimbs to the world’s most grueling cross-country snowmobile race, the Iron Dog, which was won this year by Polaris racers Chris Olds and Tyler Huntington.
The duo won the 1,971-mile race across Alaska by more than two hours, and that’s after coasting to victory because they built up such a significant advantage on their Polaris 600 IQ Shift snowmobiles.
The Iron Dog victory added to the Terrain Domination achieved by Polaris racers throughout the winter all across the snowbelt.
Along with the Iron Dog victory, Polaris racers won three Pro-class points titles on the ISOC race circuit, won multiple class championships on the U.S. Cross Country circuit, and reconfirmed the brand’s deep snow prowess with multiple titles at the Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb.
Undoubtedly, the most demanding single event is the Iron Dog, which sends teams of racers across Alaska, from Big Lake to Nome and back across the state to Fairbanks.
Man and machine are subjected to a wide variety of Alaskan terrain, from rough mountain passes through the Alaska Range to high-speed running on the frozen Yukon River.
In every situation – even a nearly snowless stretch across the “Farewell Burn” – the winners’ Polaris snowmobiles performed above all expectations.
“I feel awesome,” Huntington said after winning. “It’s been something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life, and I finally got it. I can’t explain it.”
Polaris Dominates Iron Dog Pro Class
The 2010 Iron Dog was so demanding that only 12 of 29 Pro teams finished. Of the top 10 Pro teams to finish, five of them were on Polaris snowmobiles.
Along with the winning team, the other Polaris Pro teams in the top 10 were: James Sweetsir and Mark Tope, both of Anchorage, in fifth place; Ryan Sottosanti of Wasilla and Jeremy Neeser of Anchorage in sixth; Louis Miller III and Louis Miller IV, both of Anchorage, in seventh; and Kenny Johnson of Wasilla and Andy Lachinski of Palmer in tenth.
Polaris teams have won 12 times in the race’s 26-year history, including 2009, when Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad posted the fastest winning time ever while winning a tight race. Prior to winning this year, Huntington’s best finish had been third place in 2008, while Olds, 38, had one fourth-place finish in his previous eight tries.
Olds said the winning team encountered “a little bit of everything” in terms of terrain during the race. “It was a little bit warmer than typical on the first half from Big Lake to Nome, and across the Farewell Burn there was probably a 50 to 60 mile stretch where there was no snow at all. We were pretty lucky because our machines have actual temperature gauges on them, so when we saw the temperature get to around 215-220 degrees; we stopped and tried to find snow to pack on the coolers to get them cooled down.”
“The burn area was really hard,” said the 24-year-old Huntington. “You’ve got to force yourself to stop.”
Cruising to Victory
They also found it challenging to hold back as they approached the end of the race. They knew they had a substantial lead, and didn’t want to ride too hard or make a costly mistake.
“We felt pretty comfortable at the end of the first day when there were only three teams in front of us,” Olds said. “I think probably a big advantage we had was we didn’t let our machines overheat. Some teams either lost coolant or they overheated their machines so it caused problems later on in the race.”
Olds and Huntington moved into second place on day two, and in Kaltag in the early morning of day three, they passed the lead team, which was repairing a faulty electrical component on a sled.
Once in the lead, Olds said, “we didn’t do anything too crazy. We just tried to watch ourselves… You’re thinking all the time of what little things could happen. Physically, we were fine and our machines were solid, but in your head, being up front, it was our race to lose this year, so we were really worried about something little happening.”
All that happened was they rode steadily on their Polaris snowmobiles and received a heroes’ welcome as they crossed the finish line in Fairbanks. Olds, who is from Eagle River, Alaska, said he and Huntington, who lives in Fairbanks, plan to defend their title in next year’s race. “Absolutely,” Olds said. “I could see myself doing it another 10 years for sure. I feel pretty good right now.”