Annual snowmobile world championship echoes throughout Jackson

This year’s competition marks nearly 50 years of revving engines at the town hill and a fume-filled farewell to the resort’s ski season.
Hadley West jumps her snowmobile Thursday, during a qualifying round. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

by | Mar 22, 2024 | Recreation

It’s that time of year again, when snowmobilers come from across the world to ride straight up 1,500 vertical feet towards the summit of Snow King Mountain.

The annual world championships for snowmobile hill climbs are happening now through Sunday. It marks the end of the ski season at Snow King Mountain Resort and brings a boost to some local businesses.

The sound of snowmobile engines revving can be heard throughout town, and if you venture towards the resort, you can smell the exhaust too.

Competitors like Hadley West, an 18-year-old from Idaho, hopes to climb the mountain as fast as possible. Her goal?

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“I mean to be a world champion preferably — or get close — but yeah, hopefully win,” she said.

Hadley West prepares for her qualifying round at the base of Snow King, the start of the course. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

The world championships have been taking place at Snow King for nearly 50 years according to Ryan Stanley, the resort’s general manager and it brings in competitors from around the country and even some —- from outside it.

“I mean, there’s nothing like it to race a snowmobile straight up a vertical hill in challenging conditions,” said Stanley.

The feat can even send some riders tumbling right back down.

Ryan Stanley said the event is “an economic benefit.” (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

The event also marks the beginning of the shoulder season — a short rest between winter and summer tourists for some service workers. 

Chaney Landers owns StillWest Brewery & Grill, a restaurant with large glass windows that overlook the event from across the street. She says she’s been wary of the crowd the event can draw, but said it’s good for all businesses in town, and people have been nice.

“For the winter, it’s definitely triple the amount of business we do,” Landers said.

Cameron “Frank” Page owns FRX, a small cafe and neighbor of StillWest, also across the street from the resort.

“My experience with people in Jackson is they’re always looking for something to get excited about,” Page said, “and it’s obviously one of those events.”

He did say he hates to see Snow King shut down for the ski season. He said most of his customers work and live in Jackson and with the ski season ending, the shoulder season begins with some workers — and visitors — leaving town.

Cameron “Frank” Page “slings burritos and coffee” across the street from the resort at FRX. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

“Monday will be a sad day when it shuts down and we got to say goodbye to some of the people who are here seasonally working over there,” Page said, ”but it’s been a great season for the King.”

The Jackson Hole Snow Devils, a local outdoors nonprofit, hosts the event and recruits volunteers to work it. Outside of helping provide an influx of visitors to local shops, hotels and eateries, they also give back.

The nonprofit donated over $100,000 to various community organizations after last year’s event ,according to its website.

Snowmobilers will race into the weekend, with a lucky few being crowned world champions before the events come to an end. Competition results are available here.

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About Dante Filpula Ankney

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