Variables 14.6: Sled Head

TWS: What was your first sled, and what do you ride now?
Chris Engelsman: My first sled is the one I ride now, it’s a ’99 Ski Doo Summit X 670. I bought it in March of ’99, so got a good deal; 6,000 dollars out the door, including all taxes and registration.

Have you done anything dumb on your sled that you’ll do again if the situation presents itself?
Yeah, like jumping this jump again. It’s super fun, but if you ditch your sled midair, there’s a high chance you’ll end up in the trees. If your sled misses the trees, it’ll go off the cliffs below.

Are you freaked out about avalanches in the backcountry? If so, how do you avoid them?
I’m not really freaked out about them. If the avalanche danger is high, then I don’t go out on the sled. At the same time, even when the danger level is low, there are still pockets that could release. In this case, I use the same approach I use on a snowboard: avoiding heavily wind-loaded slopes, traveling one at a time through sketchy spots, and having an out if something does release.

Is your sled souped up, or is it stock?
I wish it were souped up with after-market parts. I wish I had the 2001 Summit X 800-that sled is sick. The reality is that my sled is stock, and it works fine for me now.

Do you wear a helmet?
Yeah, I wear a helmet. I don’t want a 500-pound sled landing on my head.

What do you think about freestyle snowmobiling?
I don’t know. Doing tricks on a sled is way different than doing tricks on a motorcycle or a BMX bike. On a snowmobile, it’s more like you’re riding a couch-your body positioning can be way off and you’ll still stick the landing. Although at the same time, I totally respect the guys who do it well, guys like Jay Quinlan and Todd Swim.