CASPIAN - A changing of the course helped lead to a changing of the guard in MASTERS professional snowmobile hillclimb competition last weekend.
Travis Kaurala of Pelkie was the winner of the Pro Stock 700 class during the Mid America Championship Hillclimb, in its first season at its new venue, the former Caspian Ski Jump.
Kaurala added a pair of runner-up finishes in Pro Stock 600 and Pro Mod 600.
The Pro Stock King of the Hill was Alex Hetteen of Wannaska, Minn., the nephew of Arctic Cat and Polaris founder Edgar Hetteen. Hetteen finished the King of the Hill course in 16.91 seconds, with Kaurala about eight-tenths of a second behind.
Hetteen could have won both Pro Stock and Pro Mod King of the Hill titles had he not made an error on his final Pro Mod, which set up Cody Matthees of Lake Park, Minn., for the victory.
Other local class winners included Leif Forcia, Jr., of L'Anse in Pro Stock 500 and Jennifer Fuller, a Michigan Tech student in the women's division.
There was an incident involving Roseau, Minn., racer Derek Zimney, whose sled rolled on an unsuccessful attempt. The emergency tether became wrapped around the handlebars and ripped off Zimney's jacket. The throttle assembly broke while the sled rolled, pinching the throttle cable. The sled, with engine running, went into the pit area, hitting three people and causing two people to be transported to an Iron River hospital with leg and back injuries.
All drivers taking a first-place finish qualified for the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb in Jackson, Wyo., March 22-25.