Kaden Woodie competes in a sno-cross race in Ironwood, Mich. (Photo courtesy Kym Woodie – click to enlarge)
Kaden Woodie competes in a sno-cross race in Ironwood, Mich. (Photo courtesy Kym Woodie – click to enlarge)

Snocross race in Alpine offers local racer chance to compete at home

Kelsey Dayton
—December 17, 2013

Kelsey Dayton
Kelsey Dayton

Before any snocross race, Kaden Woodie, 14, tries to quiet his mind.

His parents always give him a pep talk. Be safe. Ride Hard. Have fun. And then he is off.

For up to seven minutes, his 150-pound body will wrangle a 450-pound machine that reaches speeds of more than 50 mph. He’ll throw the machine quickly into different angles to maneuver a pass. He’ll hit various-sized jumps making up the course that can send riders as high as 25-feet in the air and as far as 80-feet out.

It’s brutal, and at the end of a race he usually prepares for another, competing in multiple heats in different classes each event.

The Alpine resident spends most of his winter traveling to compete. But this year he might have a chance to enter one race right in his home town.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is taking public comments on a proposal to use five acres of forest land for a snocross course March 1 and 2. The proposed area is separate from the forest’s snowmobile trails, and only includes the course. Spectators will sit on private land.

The race should bring more than 80 participants, along with their families, said Alpine Mayor Kennis Lutz. With families in tow the event could pour tens of thousands of dollars into the local economy, he said. March is a slow time of year for the area, and those visitors could have a big impact for local businesses.

Kaden Woodie races in a sno cross event in Michigan. Woodie's dad Paul Woodie is working to host a race near Alpine this winter on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. (Photo courtesy Kym Woodie)
Kaden Woodie races in a sno cross event in Michigan. Woodie’s dad Paul Woodie is working to host a race near Alpine this winter on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. (Photo courtesy Kym Woodie – click to enlarge)

The proposed site is right by town, blocked by the wind. The course should leave little impact on the forest, according to Lutz. Once the snow melts it’s like it wasn’t ever there, he said.  Lutz said he hadn’t heard any objections to the race. The Forest Service also said they hadn’t had any negative comments yet.

Last year, Paul Woodie, Kaden’s dad, put on two races outside Alpine. This season’s race will not only be in town, but it is also sanctioned by Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Racing.  It will likely be the only RMSR sanctioned race in Wyoming this year. Woodie will volunteer about 100 hours building the course and organizing the event.

The time is worth it for his own businesses —  he owns a restaurant and snowmobile rental and clothing store. But he also loves the sport, and more importantly, his kids love it.

Kaden grew up riding ATVs and dirt bikes, and at 10 years old, had only been on a snowmobile a couple of times. He was playing around on a mini track in Idaho when some pros from back East saw him and told him he should try racing. The first time he raced he’d been on a snowmobile less than 10 hours in his lifetime. He won.

He’s since won about 90 percent of the races he’s entered and earned a long list of sponsorships from companies such as Smith Optical, Artic Cat and Speedwerx. This year he’ll compete in about 14 snocross races and six hill-climb competitions. When he’s not racing he’s training.

Kaden attends an alternative high school with a schedule that makes traveling easier and also allows him to complete coursework online. By the time he’s 18 he wants to be a professional racer. For now he races the 14-15 year old class, as well as the 16-17 year old class.

The first year he raced he was hooked on the surge of adrenaline and the determination to win. By his second year racing he knew it was something he was serious about.

Paul Woodie grew up motocross-racing in Utah. While the idea of snocross is the same — the courses have many of the same features as a motocross course, like table-tops and whoops — it feels completely different, he said. A snowmobile is more than two times the weight of a motorcycle. You don’t fly as far, but when you get in the air, it’s still exhilarating.

Woodie will design the course and it will feature big step-ups and step-downs and other traditional features. He’s also designing a freestyle course for people to perform tricks like backflips. Creating the courses will take at least 100 hours of work, moving snow in and packing it down into a track and sculpting it into features.

The Alpine race is just the start. Woodie said he is in talks with people about beginning a Jackson race that has potential to be a huge event that could happen as early as this spring, and for sure will happen within the next two years. He said he couldn’t yet disclose where they were considering the course, only that the event is just the start. He’s hoping to eventually have four races in Alpine, one in Jackson and one in Teton Valley, Idaho.

Most of the races are held in Colorado, or the mid-West like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The sport used to be really popular in Montana, but when the economy soured, racing dropped off and never rebounded.

This will likely be the only XMR race in Wyoming this year, Woodie said. He wants to bring the sport back to the area and get the next generation of racers excited.

His enthusiasm is already working in the family. Woodie’s daughter Taven Woodie, 10, now races, too.

Get involved

Comments on the race should be sent via e-mail or hard copy by December 23, 2013 to Recreation Planner Sidney Woods at P.O. Box 339; Afton, WY  83110 or to swoods@fs.fed.us. For additional information on the proposal, call 307-886-5327

—“Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at kelsey.dayton@gmail.com. Follow her on twitter: @Kelsey_Dayton

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Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide...

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