The winter that wasn’t

No snow, no local races

Courtesy of Skip Schulz Fans and racers will have to wait till next February to see the snowmobiles and snow bikes try to climb Whealkate Bluff in South Range, as this weekend’s hillclimb has been canceled due to lack of snow.

The winter of 2023-24 will go down as the winter that never happened. The snow and temperature numbers of this winter that is a good reason to buy the snowfall chart compiled by the Gazette.

With the cancellation of this weekend’s Wildlife Refuge Cabins – Pat’s Motorsports Mid America Championship Hillclimb in South Range, the MASTERS will go back to those that qualified last winter to go to the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb. The World Championships take place in Jackson, Wyoming, at Snow King Mountain.

This includes MTU alumnus Jordan Stank, and his father, Layne. Jordan is from the Milwaukee area, while Layne is from Menomonee, Michigan. Joining the Stanks will be the father-daughter combination from South Central Wisconsin, Jesse and Kenzie Pokyszk.

The talented teenager, Kenzie, actually qualified through the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association. She started competing at hillclimbs through the MASTERS.

“We just love racing and want to see the series (MASTERS) grow. We are planning to be involved for years to come,” explained Jesse Pokyszk. “You guys (MASTERS) do a great job of putting everything together.”

Also representing the MASTERS at the World Championship will be Luke Maher of Hastings, Minnesota. Last year, Maher qualified through the MASTERS and another Circuit.

Hubbell’s Jimmy Marietta Jr., along with Ontonagon’s Dave Dishaw, qualified but decided not to go. Steven Voelker of Laurium qualified and was very competitive in the Junior Class last year. He also will not be making the long trek to Wyoming. As with Minnesota’s Destiny Welch, who recently had a baby.

The only two MASTERS hillclimbers that have ever advanced to the Championship Round at the World Championship is Jordan Stank, and the Pat’s Motorsports Tyler Robinson. Robinson will be focusing on his family this year.

“My dad and I agreed with all the others in having to cancel the Hillclimb in South Range this weekend. As Neil (Marietta) said, it simply is not safe for the racers, officials and fans. Plus, we don’t want to damage our FXR/Diamond House International Racing, Cozzy’s Polaris sleds before the WC (World Championship),” commented Jordan Stank.

The lack of snow this winter has taken its toll on numerous businesses.

Along with Marietta’s suggestion to cancel the Hillclimb and all of the final events for the MASTERS this winter, he stated, “This winter has really hurt everyone in the Keweenaw. I heard it has had an economic impact into the millions of dollars.”

MASTERS Hall of Fame member and major sponsor for years, Kip McIntyre of Pat’s Motorsports echoed Marietta’s comments. “This winter has been tough on us and a lot of people.”

The MASTERS canceled the Bobcat of Greenland – North Country Snowmobile Club Terra-X/V5 Enduro for March 2 that was set in Ontonagon. Club President Mike Olsen stated, “We would not be able to have enough snow to make the jumps and the track. Besides, I decided to get some work driving a Sno-Cat in Alaska.”

If you are looking for good snow, you may have to join Olsen and go to Alaska.


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