SOUTH RANGE - More than four feet of fresh snow will greet competitors in the Winternationals Snowmobile Hillclimb, which begins today at Whealkate Bluff in South Range, sanctioned by the Mid-America Snowmobile Tournament of Expert Riders.
Defending King of the Hill champions Matt Tingstad (Pro Stock) and Wyler Miller (Pro Mod) will take on a gallery of strong contenders, including 3-time King of the Hill Al Turin of Greenland and past King winner Mike Fraki of Atlantic Mine.
Drivers from throughout the upper Midwest will compete for the King of the Hill titles in Pro Stock and Pro Mod, each of which carries a $1,000 prize.
At left, Pro Mod King of the Hill, Wyler 'Wild Man' Miller of Pelkie and Pro Stock King of the Hill Matt Tingstad of Bessemer stand in front of the hill they conquered in last year’s Winternationals at Whealkate Bluff in South Range. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Other locals scheduled to compete include Matt Cook of Bruce Crossing, Houghton's Jordan Stank, Lake Linden's Tom Hodges, Ontonagon's Ryan Huff, Laurium's James Marietta and Pelkie's Travis Kaurala, who took first in a Pro Stock Division last year.
Women and vintage snowmobiles will be a part of competition for the first time this year, with those events going on today, along with the sport division.
Saturday's competition begins at 9 a.m. and also includes the fan favorite 120 cc class for youngsters to try their skill at the hill.
Though parking has been expanded and a new exit road added to the site, spectators are encouraged to get to the hill early. Gates open at 7 a.m. Saturday.
A portion of the proceeds from the event goes to the Motorsports Enthusiasts That Care Fund, set up by the Mi-TRALE organization to help a family fighting cancer.