Google search engineGoogle search engine


As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, I’ve been attending Snow Shoot (the media and OEM gathering of new models for ride evaluations and photo/video sessions) for the better part of 30-years. There’s lots of things to glean from a gathering like this including the obvious such as riding the newest models, meeting new OEM team members, and learning about new technology. However beyond all this, Snow Shoot serves as the ultimate barometer for the industry and more specifically as a measuring stick for each of the brands within that window of time. Who’s got the momentum, who has the best new buggy, who has the sled everyone wants to ride, and who is consistently the last one picked for dodge ball.

The way Snow Shoot works is each media outlet reserves a collection of sleds from all the OEMs for a morning session and an afternoon session. From there a scramble of preparation, forgotten helmets, swapping of sleds, and discussions transpire before each of the groups depart the staging area. Tagging along with most groups are one or two OEM representatives, often there to answer questions and to “shepherd the herd” in case there’s trouble. Joining one of these groups is how I often attain my ride evaluations. Not only do I get to ride the newest Arctic Cat snowmobiles, but on occasion during the frequent swapping of sleds, you can spend some time on the other brands as well. It’s during these “swaps”… away from the eyes of the staging area, when you find out what sleds the editors really want to ride. This winter, the Catalyst was clearly the most popular sled…and for good reason. 

In the coming days I’ll be posting insights and learnings regarding the 2025 Arctic Cat lineup from my trip to West Yellowstone. I had some great discussions with Cat engineers while I was there, and I got some great feedback on the new 858 from members of the Black Cat team and press in attendance. For now, I wanted to share some photos and initial thoughts from the trip…enjoy.

No matter how many times I go to Snow Shoot, I always get excited walking into the staging area for the first time and seeing all the new sleds fired up and ready for a day of riding. The rumble of Arctic Cat sleds was sweet music to my ears. 
One of the key players who always has the sleds ready to ride every day is Matt Bjerklie (seated). He attempted to give me a welcome bear hug, but I tapped out and settled for a hearty handshake. Few guys are nicer than Matt, and he’s always ready to get after it no matter the task. Standing next to Matt is Justin Scholl who is one of the primary engineers behind the new G8 display. I spent some time with Justin to learn more about the display and I’ll be sharing that information along with videos in the coming days.
The new AC5S shock found on SnoPro models looks like a top shelf piece and rides like one as well. The Arctic Cat designed and spec’d shock features a remote reservoir design with five levels of compression adjustment. I’ll be receiving a compression damping graph to illustrate the range the shock offers in comparison to the three positions found on the ATAC Fox system. The shock is designed to target riders who want more adjustment versus what is available from the ATAC system and I found the range to offer a discernible difference between settings. More to come here. 
Seeing the new gauge mounted in a sled and on the snow brought a big smile to my face. The size and graphics are superb, and the ability to customize the readout is easy and very intuitive. More importantly, I found it easy to read while bombing rough trails. I’ll have plenty more on the new gauge in the coming days…it’s the real deal and worth the money for those who want the integrated navigation it offers.
One of the things that has always made Arctic Cat a bit different from everyone else is the fact that everyone who works there loves to ride. As soon as I arrived at Snow Shoot I walked into the trailer and found Troy Halvorson, Director of Product Strategy for snowmobiles getting ready to ride. Later during the week, I had a great conversation with Troy about my vision for ArcticInsider and he was completely on board with making sure the “insider” access and information shared here continues. There’s still a lot of “racer” in Troy…dig the duct tape support for his shin and knee pads.
Snow Shoot is also a place where old riders and industry folks go to stay connected to their snowmobiling roots. Long time Arctic Cat employee and Team Arctic Coordinator Al Shimpa was there helping fuel the sleds and enjoying some time in the snow.
For those that are questioning if or how a turbo system might fit under the cowl of the new Catalyst platform, Black Cat rider Maverick Walker’s buggy had this tidy set-up. Best of all, it runs on pump gas, produces some serious ponies, and still provides plenty of room to work on stuff as made evident by this photo.
Members of the Black Cats were in attendance, and Riley Kincaid (working on his sled) and Dave McClure were attempting to put Matt in a bear hug….he wasn’t having any of it.
Before I left, I grabbed a photo of just a portion of the crew that makes it happen for Arctic Cat during Snow Shoot. From left to right: Philip Jhant (Vice President of Powersports), Donna Beadle (Marketing), Justin Scholl (Electrical Engineering/Garmin), Dan Johnson (Vice President Operations), Riley Kincaid, Matt Bjerklie, Dave McClure, and Ben White (Marketing).
With no snow in the Midwest, there were lots of visitors in West Yellowstone riding off-trail and on. I ran into three separate groups of riders I knew who were out there to ride including Snowmobile Hall of Fame racer Brian Nelson. Brian was out with friends to enjoy a few days of trail riding before returning to Minnesota.
Like many parts of the country this year, the snow in West Yellowstone wasn’t exceptional, but as fate would have it, a storm came through while I was there, providing a fresh layer of powder to enjoy. The drive back down the hill however, was a bit less enjoyable.
I also had a chance to ride with my friend Kevin Beilke, Editor of SnowTech magazine. Kevin continually amazes me with his passion for snowmobiling and the sheer number of miles he rides every season. Few people have logged more miles on a snowmobile than Kevin, and we added a few more to the tally at a very spirited pace while in West Yellowstone.


  1. As someone who ordered a M858, I can’t wait to hear more details about your trip. What an incredibly exciting time to be a Cat loyalist!

  2. I’m looking forward to the report. It’s good to see some familiar faces, I just hope Matt B knows that the rider who hit a tree last year year with the Riot 9000 WASN’T ME. 😉

  3. Off topic but the font you are using for all the text in the article is really nice and looks great on desktop and iPhone.

    On topic… new cars are sweet and so is that G8 gauge!

  4. Look forward to hearing the”insider” details.

    I had the opportunity to test out the new 858 in Munising last Saturday – both the ZR 137 and the Riot. Came away impressed with those sleds on several levels. Came away more impressed with how friendly and helpful the folks representing Cat were.

  5. Great article and photos. Looking foward to the articles to come. It is too bad (for myself included) how terrible the winter was in the upper midwest. Brand new 600 Catalyst and only 1.6 miles. Trails never opened once in Minocqua or Eagle River. On the positive side, it will be “new” next year too.

  6. Test rode a new catalyst walked away unimpressed. Still have painted plastic where pull cord goes so paint can come off. New gauge is great but we found it tough to look at during trail riding. It was spot on though for location of where we were. The 858 isn’t a knock your socks off but is definitely better than the 600 is. Lots of midrange grunt. Hopefully it helps them in market share. Being the last few winters haven’t been so great be interesting to see how long Textron holds onto Cat. Hopefully sales stay up for them to keep going.

  7. Truly interested in those Sno pro shocks. I don’t understand why AC has been so quiet about them? Will they be available for those of us wanting to upgrade from IFP shocks?

  8. Would love someone to say something about the shocks.. A display unit, cut aways, tech info, lots of folks asking but AC has been totally silent

  9. Cat really needs to put more money back into supporting racing.
    25 entries in champ class alone in this past weekends ice oval racing just 2 hours north of TRF and only one was a cat. A red white and blue one at that with zero cat sponsorship
    Formula 3 class, zero entries when there are two current F3 prepped sleds sitting in the race shop.


    • Haven’t drove anyone else’s 850. I could have drove one last year. But the guys rental Polaris’s blew up or broke down 🙄‼️ We test drove at Munising. A little unimpressive. BUT , it was warm & the snow was loose. Talking to the engineer. They still don’t have all the Low Elevation calibrations done . Do to, no or shit snow . He spent the week prior testing on a lake with a couple inches of snow on it . Before coming there.

  11. Haven’t drove anyone else’s 850. I could have drove one last year. But the guys rental Polaris’s blew up or broke down 🙄‼️ We test drove at Munising. A little unimpressive. BUT , it was warm & the snow was loose. Talking to the engineer. They still don’t have all the Low Elevation calibrations done . Do to, no or shit snow . He spent the week prior testing on a lake with a couple inches of snow on it . Before coming there.

    • Oops, on the double ‼️ I thought Al Shimpa was fully retired . Haven’t seen him in the pits at Haydays in years. Hopefully he’s enjoying his semi retirement in Detroit Lakes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular