After starting the sport a few short months ago, eight-year-old Hunter George took top prize in the FXR Kawartha Cup held in Lindsay on February 16th, where he scored the most points among the ten participants in his racing class.
One of the races in the Canadian Snowcross circuit, it was only the third race for this young competitor.
This quiet and unassuming Millbrook South Cavan student began riding his snowmobile cautiously around his home when the snow began to fly, practicing for hours after school, gradually building speed and confidence. He soon learned the proper stance; holding a low squat to absorb the bumps in his legs, and then wondered why they hurt after he had spent a few hours circling his house on the sled.
Early in the season, a racing group took him under their wing; bringing him into the fold of their club they call Hollywood Racing. Among their members is nine year old Tyler Phillips, a veteran racer in his fourth year of competition. The group is based in McKellar, Ontario, just north of Parry Sound. This association has been very helpful for Hunter, providing inspiration as well as practical help as they come to races with a trailer equipped with a workshop to facilitate equipment repairs.
Competing in this sport requires extensive travel. Snowcross competitions take place across the province, but most of them are held further north which improves the odds of favourable snow conditions. Hunter’s first race took place in Sault Ste. Marie, and next week he is headed to Timmins for another event.
The sport is open to competitors as young as four, with classes reaching up to the professional level. Competitors drive late model snowmobiles and race sleds that meet strict safety standards, including a kill switch and a thumb-activated shut off switch on the handlebars. Any machine modifications must receive written approval in order to be eligible to compete, and all races are conducted following International Snowmobile Racing rules.
Last weekend, Hunter was in Innisfil for another event, but this time things did not proceed as planned. He began his last race on Sunday in first place, but collided with another rider, flipping his sled on its side. Undeterred, he bounced up, picked up his sled, restarted it and completed the race. This was a disappointing turn of events, certainly, but a character-building one that could ultimately boost his confidence because of his quick recovery. There’s another event next week in Timmins, where he will have another chance to show his stuff.
As the season begins to wind down, Hunter’s mother Rebekah appreciates her son’s accomplishments and all he has learned from this sport. Her husband Dean would like Hunter to consider switching to ATV racing for the summer season, but Rebekah would prefer he stick with soccer. She looks forward to a sport closer with the arrival soccer season when Hunter and his brother Hudson can flex their athletic skills around the corner at Maple Leaf Park. KG