Toned-down Snow Challenge starts Saturday
“People wanted to kill this race and they did.”
The annual Iqaluit to Kimmirut snowmobile race takes place this Saturday, but it won’t be the extravaganza that Iqalungmiut – and TSN subscribers around the country – saw last year.
“If there was a way to say this nicely I would,” says race director Tom Bragard. “People wanted to kill this race and they did.”
Bragard and other organizers from Nunavut Productions were disappointed when few government and corporate sponsors stepped up to contribute to this year’s race.
Last year, there was a concert, a banquet, and a giant send-off on the ice for the racers, complete with a helicopter that monitored their progress, and carried a film crew that captured the race for TSN.
This year, Bragard says, “We can’t even build a road onto the ice.”
The City of Iqaluit denied repeated requests for support, including donations of their heavy equipment, claiming that insurance will not cover them beyond the high water mark. The city cited the same reason in a recent newspaper ad that said the city will no longer host the snowmobile drag races on the sea ice during Toonik Tyme.
Nonetheless, over 50 racers will meet on Frobisher Bay at 10 a.m. on Saturday to see who can cross the Meta Incognita peninsula the fastest. If the weather is poor, the race will take place on Sunday.
Spectators are invited to snowmobile or walk onto the sea ice to watch the take-off. This year, instead of starting off on a track, racers will run to their machines at the starting line.
Snowmobilers have traveled from Kuujjuaq, Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Pangnirtung to compete.
“They’ve been racing before this was televised and before this was a big event, and we’re gonna do it again,” Bragard says.
“Any money that we have raised, every penny of it’s going into prizes, and I can’t even tell you what the prizes are, how much that’s going to be, until the last guys have paid their subscription.”