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Do You Ride Like This?

Arctic Cat Factory Pilot

I love these kinds of photos, and have used them for years in the various magazine projects I’ve been involved with, including Arctic Cat Pride.

These images are taken (by professional photographers) of professional test riders such as Aaron Scheele, Rocky Cutsforth (RIP), Jared & Kyle Hibbert and others. This photography takes place under controlled conditions, with multiple “takes” to capture the perfect moment.

Arctic Cat Factory Pilot

Such images are dramatic, impactful and awe-inspiring.

They’re also completely unreal, in terms of how most of us ride.

Seriously, I’m a fairly hardcore rider, but I never blast 10 feet into the air. At least not intentionally.

Arctic Cat Factory Pilot

Most of the riding I do is on trails, where stunts like this generally aren’t possible, or advised. To catch this kind of air, you need terrain that enables it. Gravel pits, drifts and the like.

Arctic Cat Factory Pilot

Once in awhile I happen upon such areas, and I admit to blasting a few jumps (“Let’s go free styling, ditch banging and tail standing.”). But I can’t do the stuff seen in most of these pix. Nor do I try.

Do you?



  1. When I get a little air it feels like that! The reality….. You probably would have hard time seeing the daylight under my sled unless you were laying in the snow! I have to admit though…. The SP500 has me looking for places to do this more and more!

  2. Pictures of “Air” are exciting. I like photos of the rider looking back. The feeling of jumping is unbeleivable. The best way to start is to get a snocross sled that was made for jumping and landing. Get all the protective gear…Tekvest, helmet, jacket, gloves. Go to a closed course or private property where there are jumps set up. The hardest thing is to judge speed, to go from jump to a landing. Takes practice not to over jump the landing or “case it” and hit the face of the landing. You have to have a big enough jump to experience how much control you have over the machine. You have to be in the air long enough to understand that if you hit the gas in the air, your front end comes up and you’ll land on your back end. (The spinning momentum of the track causes it to rotate backwards). If you back off on the gas in the air or tap your brake lever, your front drifts forward. Once you get the balls to get that much air, it’s an awesome feeling on the control you have over your machine!…John Zanon #33

  3. well… there are those times… like when your rippin along a snow fence in 16″ of fresh… at 70 mph… and hit a 12″ insulated pipe that is perpendicular to your line… a wha thunk, bottomed out suspension then an instant 10′ of air… slammed knees and instant skid marks… followed by a few moments of terror as one ever so briefly ponder “Can I live through this” and the old ZR chassis levels out with a touch of the brake, and the landing is flat, crushing the shocks and your spine… but life has been maintained… even as you helmet smacks the windshield and your wrists scream… onlookers gasp, and your father-in-law just shakes his head and says “your nuts”…

    I flew over 15′ forward that afternoon, was higher than the airport snow-fence which is 16′ (but there was at least 3′ of snow) and lived…
    the 98 ZR 600 had a cracked bulkhead after that, and some bent bars… from my body impact….

    It was one of those instances of pure terror… but I still went back to look at the track… to make a note of the untracked snow…

    and my father-in-law quit riding behind me that

  4. In all honesty I got into sledding a little later than my friends (late high school). And I was really intimidated by the way they spoke of riding, and how hardcore they made themselves sound (big airs and fast riding)…
    So when I got my first sled this is how I thought people rode. I would go out to pits, whip up and down trails (I know, sorry)…. I thought this kind of riding was normal because thats what everyone made it sound like…”dude I jumped that fence” and such…. With my motocross background I rode my sled the same way, fast hard and often in the air.. My two 440’s felt my wrath. the footboards both bent down from too many hard landings..

    Now being 30 (freshly 30, mid october) and getting back into the sport I really cant wait to get back to this riding. Ill be alot more responsible on trails, but the trails are just what links me from pit to pit, jumping spot to spot, always in search of a new feature to jump off of. This is why I chose the SP5 as my new ride.

    I really think its a generation change we are seeing. I may be phase one but its way more evident in the younger guys. Theyve grown up watching slednecks and all those other videos and they think this is normal riding. the hardcore stuff to alot of older guys seems like baby poop to the younger guys because of how and where theyve learned to ride (crazy videos and magazine ads like these).

    Dont get me wrong, I do like a nice leisure trip once in a while…

    But, Yes I ride like this…I love it…This is why I ride

  5. those guys really know how to ride!!! these newer sleds are much better for this kind of riding then the older ones..the ergo’s and suspension set ups are so much better on the new sleds…snowmobiling has come a longs ways

  6. I love these kinds of photos. To see that Arctic Cats are capable of these sorts of jumps is very cool, and even if I never perform this sort of stunt myself, it never gets old to see others perform them. It’s fun to see what the machines can do, and it’s even more fun to see what the riders themselves can do with those machines given the correct conditions. It’s sort of like seeing someone hit a long home run or throw down a big slam dunk. If everyone could do it, it wouldn’t be any fun to watch. I, like John, do 99% of my riding on trails, ditches, and lakes, but I still have to stand back and say “wow” when I see pictures like these.

  7. I ride like shiznit. The only time that I can remember getting “air” is when I slammed onto the asphalt after dropping off of the snow bank at a road crossing back in ’75. Those spindles on the ’72 Cheetah were made of glass.

  8. I agree with PDW’s post. Love to ride like this! Any one who grew up riding a snowboard, skiing, moto-cross, mountain bikes, this is not that crazy, its the norm. More interesting did the guy in the last picture in the article land his whip or chuck the sled?

  9. Last big air I got was on the Chippewa Flowage in March of 08 on my 05 ZR 900 SP, hit a small drifted in heave at 95 MPH, I was in the air for 110′, I had two gallons of oil strapped under the cargo rack šŸ™ The rack was bent up a little, the rear shock lost some it’s charge but we still made it to TRF and back.
    Did I mention the Yammie Warrior that hit the heave just to my right, and a split second before I did barrell rolled cracking up the hood, instrument cluster, twisted up the tunnel and the rider, nothing lands on it’s feet like a Cat LOL

  10. Hi John,

    While I dont trail ride like that (at least intentionally) I do have fun racing the Masters class in SnoCross and Cross Country. And I do have fun on my small practice track in my back yard.

    RMR’s photographer Mike Key has caught some really nice pic’s of me over the years, and they look great in the photo album. Of course he also caught some not so flattering pic’s too!

    See you at the Vintage I-500!
    -Joe Rainville
    #621 Cat/Deere racer

  11. yea the pictures are pretty cool but the stunts arent that spectacular. i do ninety percent of my riding in the mountains on my m8 with a pump gas turbo so i see and do alot of big jumps on a daily basis.


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