Call it a dream come true.
Dawson Creek’s Brennan Mulvahill competed at the Snowmobile Hillclimb World Championship in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the world famous Snow King Mountain last month.
And never mind for a first timer, he did quite well in any right. He ended up finishing second in the final for semi-pro improved and fifth in semi-pro stock class at the event held March 21 to 24.
“This is the pinnacle of sledding and racing,” he says. “It’s been a lifelong dream actually, because I’ve always watched when I was little about Jackson Hole and the world Championship, it was always big for any sledder.
“That’s about as big as it gets.”
Having competed in races since catching the racing bug at a Western Canadian Hillcross Association race here in Dawson Creek in 2014 (“I was hooked from there”), Mulvahill has been steadily making his way in the sport since on the Western Canadian circuit. Last year, he competed in his first race in the States in Afton, Wyoming.
When the time came for the World Championship, he submitted his race resume, and he managed to earn entries for qualifying. The first day of races is the qualifying — out of 30, the top five in each class moves on.
“To get entries is even kind of tricky,” he admits. “It’s quite the cut.
“It’s tough — they’re fast down there for sure,” Mulvahill says. “I didn’t know what to expect, where I would sit amongst them, so I kind of went all out in qualifying. I was surprised.”
The first time World Championship competitor had entries for three classes. In stock he came third and he took first place in qualifying for improved, beating everyone by two seconds. The third class he missed the cut by just one spot, placing sixth.
The jump from the challenge of qualifying and the finals was immense.
“It’s a feat just to get over the mountain, they call it Snow King Mountain, it’s a ski hill, but it’s one of their Black Diamond runs, it’s where we do our race. Qualifying, we only qualified to the first catwalk, like there’s a catwalk where the groomer can go across, and then finals, you go over the top of the mountain there,” he shares.
“When I made it over the top, I was just so excited to make it over the top, let alone place in second, I was so happy.”
It was a satisfying end to a long week or so, starting with a 23 hour drive to Jackson Hole.
“It was really intense, especially for my first time, not knowing what to expect. Just the week before, we traveled down probably four days before the event started just to get in the groove and calm down and get the sleds ready, because it’s different elevation down there, it’s a lot higher than here,” he says.
“The town itself is about 6,200 ft, just getting the sleds running for that altitude, and getting practiced up, and there was a lot of preparation.”
Now with the experience under his belt, he’s looking to compete more in the States next season in the Rocky Mountain States HillClimb Association and make a name for himself there.
“Next year, I would probably be investing more time in the RMSHA circuit in the United States, and that’s high calibre racing down there, higher calibre than down here, and I’m probably going to look at doing part of the circuit down there next year leading up to the World Championships again, and I probably would stick with semi-pro again just to top out in that,” he says.
For now, he’s got one more race before the season wraps up, at Sun Peaks in Kamloops for the WCHA on Easter weekend.
He’s also active in the Dawson Creek snowmobiling community, and was a race coordinator with the Paradise Valley Snowmobile Association, helping organize last weekend’s hillcross races on Bear Mountain.
But with the season coming to an end, it’s nearly time to get down to work — literally.
“I work all summer to ride in the winter. I do lots of backcountry riding as well, just in the mountains. Racing is really growing on me, it’s just taking first over backcountry riding, so next year I’ll probably work as much as I can until race season starts again.”