Saturday, May 18, 2024

2016 Wausau 525 Snowmobile Championship

by Chandler
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Taking place in Alexandria, Minnesota, the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship has been a thrilling exhibition of professional snowmobile racing, and a great opportunity for competitors to utilize the near perfect winter weather conditions present at the Alexandria Winter Spectacular. Alexandria, Minnesota is known for its pristine winter landscapes and heavy snowfalls, and for these reasons it is an absolutely ideal location to host professional snowmobiling events.

The snowmobile racing variation that is being hosted at the Alexandria Winter Open this year, known as the Wausau Snowmobile Championship, is a specific type of snowmobile race that takes place on an oval-shaped ice track. This allows for optimum speed and handling ability on the part of the snowmobile operator, and fortunately for the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship the conditions mirrored this description fairly closely.

There was one team present in the competition that did exceptionally well at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship, and that was the Ski-Doo Racing Team. Their team was actually able to dominate the podium at this event, which lends credence to the notion that the Ski-Doo Team riders are some of the best trained, most practiced, and optimally equipped racers in the world of professional snowmobiling. This particular race saw the operation of 525 class snowmobiles, which are some of the more powerful production racing snowmobiles on the market today.

These machines are capable of extreme power, torque, and acceleration, all of which would play a significant role in a racer’s ability to take home the win. Racing a snowmobile with this much power and capability on an oval track made of ice where hard turns are going to be inevitable is a serious challenge, and one that must be approached with the utmost care and concentration. In short, this is not a sport for the faint of heart, which is easy to tell by watching it. In order to provide race fans with some critical information about the results of the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship, the top podium results of the race will now be presented here.

1st Place – Matt Schulz – Ski-Doo Racing Team:

Taking home the 1st place championship win at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship was Ski-Doo Team racer Matt Schulz. Schulz is a consummate professional, and definitely raced as such at this event hosted by the Alexandria Winter Spectacular in Minnesota. On his 525 Ski-Doo racing snowmobile, Matt Schulz raced aggressively and with a lot of courage, often pitching his snowmobile up on only one track around turns to ensure he would not lose any significant amount of speed on the track banks.

While most of the racers participating in this event ended up pitching their snowmobiles up on one track occasionally throughout the race, Matt Schulz seemed fearless in lifting his snowmobile up higher than the rest of the competitors. It is likely that this effect contributed to Matt’s win at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship, since it allowed him to save precious seconds around the banking turns of the track.

The lead he was able to achieve from riding so fearlessly and aggressively was marginal, but it is easy to make the case that without this aggressive style he would not have been able to stay out in front of the other finishers that were closely challenging his lead. This was not a race that Matt Schulz won by a long shot, on the contrary, he was being very intensely challenged for his lead by other Ski-Doo Team riders Cardell Potter, and Gunnar Sterne.

This fact is clearly evidenced by the final results that show C. Potter and G. Sterne hot on his trail for a close 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. The oval ice style track in use at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship is a rather unforgiving track, to say the least, and for this reason riding with an aggressive style as Matt Schulz did is definitely a risk and reward riding dynamic.

That is what it takes to be successful with professional snowmobiling, the willingness to push the boundaries of what can reasonably be achieved on a snowmobile in terms of speed and acceleration through the icy turns. Taking first place at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship was no small victory for Matt Schulz and the Ski-Doo Racing Team, and it is sure to bolster their already prominent and highly respected snowmobile-racing team. Schulz can be expected to come out strong in the coming racing events, and into the 2017 season.

2nd Place – Cardell Potter – Ski-Doo Racing Team:

Another Ski-Doo Racing Team member named Cardell Potter managed to take home the 2nd place spot at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship, which represented yet another significant podium finish for the Ski-Doo team. Cardell looked great in his 525 snowmobile, taking turns like an absolute beast and getting everything he possibly could out of his sled in the straightaways. Cardell is a racer who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, even when it comes to racing against other teammates on the Ski-Doo racing outfit.

The Ski-Doo team has been quite successful this season, and seems to have a really well stacked team at the moment. Cardell Potter is no exception to the high performance level of the Ski-Doo Racing Team, and he demonstrated that quite effectively out on the oval ice track at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship. His riding style at this racing event was slightly more conservative and calculated than the wild, untethered technique of race winner Matt Schulz.

It could be said that this more calculated style of racing might have cost Cardell Potter the victory at this event, but that is not exactly true when one considers the fact that if he tried to race as aggressively as Matt Schulz did, he could have easily experienced a crash and not finished the race at all. In that context, it is understandable that many racers in this sport operate with a more careful style than others to avoid any mishaps.

Dealing with an ice oval racing track for snowmobiling is a much different condition than another sport that might utilize dirt or pavement as a race track, and as such it is common to find racers operating with a significant degree of care while competing. Some of the sleds in different racing classes at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship were outfitted with genuine, heavy-duty metal roll cages, which is a clear indicator that these racers are riding in such an intense way that rolling over is a distinct possibility.

Again, unlike a paved or dirt race track, an ice oval snowmobile racing track can have slight imperfections that can throw a racer off since riders are commonly banking up onto one side of their snowmobile during turns. Cardell Potter was another racer who utilized this kind of side banking turn, though not as forcefully or with as much risk as Matt Schulz seemed to exhibit in his turns. There were a couple moments in the race when it looked as though Cardell was going to overtake Matt Schulz for the lead, but was not able to do so because every time he got close, Matt Schulz would amplify his throttle position and move into a safer position.

There was one time when Cardell began moving past Matt Schulz while moving up on the outside on a straightaway, but as soon as the turn came into play Matt Schulz was back up on his inside runner and pulling ahead once more along the inside. It seemed like no matter what kind of overtaking move Cardell tried to make, he was still unable to make any meaningful progress against Matt Schulz.

We will see what the rest of the season bring, but at this time it definitely looks like Matt Schulz is going to have quite a dominant competitive season. With that being said, Cardell Potter also had a fantastic race and it is difficult to find a lot of significant criticism of his technique and overall performance. He is another valuable asset of the Ski-Doo team, and close attention should be paid to his performances in upcoming racing competitions.  

3rd Place – Gunnar Sterne – Ski-Doo Racing Team:

Bring up the bottom rung of the podium in 3rd place at the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship was yet another Ski-Doo Racing Team member, Gunnar Sterne. Gunnar is another highly experienced and critical asset on the Ski-Doo team, though it can definitely be said that he did not perform at his absolute best at the Wausau event. This is not in any way to suggest that he performed poorly, as clearly a third place finish is almost never evidence of a bad performance, but he usually tends to compete more closely with his other Ski-Doo teammates than he did in this race.

While his teammate Cardell Potter repeatedly attempted serious movements to overtake Matt Schulz for first place, Gunnar was even more conservative than Cardell overall and seemed to lay back a little bit from his other two leading teammates. Perhaps, given that they are all on the same racing team, he was not willing to put himself or his teammates in any degree of real risk or danger in the event that a passing maneuver would go wrong and result in a crash. This is only speculative, clearly, but it would explain the reality that Gunnar Sterne seemed to slightly lay off of available opportunities to pass by his other leading Ski-Doo Racing Team comrades.

Perhaps if the race leaders had not been direct teammates of Gunnar’s we would have seen a more aggressive attempt at passing them up; it is difficult to know for sure. One thing we do know, however, is that in spite of a general lack of attempting to make pass attempts for 1st or 2nd place positioning, Gunnar definitely held his own in terms of holding the third place spot. In this light it seems reasonable to suggest that he was aggressive only in retaining his podium spot, but not as aggressive in terms of unseating his fellow race team members for first or second place.


Gunnar definitely displayed outstanding throttle control out on the ice oval track, timing his straightaway acceleration near perfectly every single time. This strong point in his racing technique can definitely be pointed to when analyzing his third place finish, although he was certainly not as strong through the turns. He actually seemed to slow up a bit heading into the turns, which is yet one more piece of evidence to suggest that he was riding with a more conservative style for the 2016 Wausau Snowmobile Championship, and one that would be conducive to making sure his whole team took the podium and didn’t have any accidents during the race. With that quality in mind, it is clear to see that Gunnar Sterne is the very definition of a team player, since he was unwilling to jeopardize his team’s overall victory and their safety for his own individual gain. This kind of racing sportsmanship is always good to see in the world of high stakes professional snowmobile racing. 

Although he was not able to take first in this race, Gunnar Sterne’s consistency and team mentality as a snowmobile racer is sure to take him far in this game. It is also likely to ensure that he experiences great longevity in his career, since a more conservative leaning style generally makes for a longer career with less wipeouts, crashes, bails, and injuries. A third place podium finish is not bad at all for G. Sterne, and in this light we can definitely expect more impressive racing performances from him in the future, and from all the professional snowmobile racers on the Ski-Doo Racing Team.

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