What is RMSHA?

Race circuit that plays king of the mountain
The Rocky Mountain States Hilclimb Association (RMSHA) race circuit has its roots in backcountry competition. In the distant past, riders competed for high marks in the western bowls and bragging rights on who owned the highest climbing sled. In this spirit of competition, RMSHA was born.

■ Real Mountain Sled Racing

A racer-owned circuit, RMSHA is run by a volunteer and part-time board that consists of racer and OEM representatives. But don’t let this volunteer crew mislead you. RMSHA is the premier circuit for snowmobile athletes with the top racers in the world competing for the title of King and Queen of the Mountain. And now, instead of just bragging rights, consistent winners can leave with a fist full of cash and usually an opportunity to be sponsored by top OEMs and snowmobile gear manufacturers.

RMSHA hosts a series of seven to eight events each year from January to April. Each race awards a King and Queen; however, the coveted crowns are earned at the World Championship in Jackson, Wyoming every March. This race is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world and is the ultimate prize for a mountain sled racer. There are other top honors that require one to complete a grueling season to win. These are the points champions. Points are given to the winners of each race, the final crowns are given to the man and woman who made it to the top of the mountain with the fastest times consistently throughout the season.

In addition, the honor of RMSHA Racer of the Year is awarded at the last race of the season to a person nominated and voted on by the racers themselves. It is a coveted title and typically given to one of the leading athletes who is at the top of their game, having shown the most growth throughout the season. The RMSHA Racer of the Year receives some cash and a legendary trophy sponsored by Klim in Rigby, Idaho. The trophy changes hands each year, with the new Racer of the Year’s name engraved on the trophy next to the winners of the past. Andy Thomas was awarded the title by his peers this past season and will hold on to the trophy until April when a new racer is crowned. Of all of the awards, this is one of the most prized since it is an award given by the vote of your competitors.
■ RMSHA Competition Basics
In its simplest form, this is a race up the mountain. But these races are meant to test not only the sled, but also the backcountry skill of the riders. Each venue is different, however, they usually start with a few kickers, and then move toward the steep terrain. The riders must go between flags (spaced about 10-15’ apart) as they maneuver their way up the mountain. Depending on the course, there are usually about 15 flags to negotiate. It is interesting to watch the different techniques of the riders, as with each competitor the hill can slowly morph from powder to deep trenches and berms, loaded with stumps and boulders, requiring each athlete to showcase their skills in all types of crazy conditions.

■ The Courses
There are two lanes of competition on a RMSHA course; the Semi-pro (blue lane) or Pro (red lane). Each lane is further divided into classes including stock, improved, mod and open mod. This division makes for fair competition between riders and sleds, and most racers have a fleet of three to seven sleds from stock to full mod. The top athletes typically race in all or most of the classes.

Most races are at least two days long. Day one is a qualifying with each rider attempting the course in each of the classes they are signed up in. Depending on the number of racers, there are around 10-12 qualifiers for any given class that will move to the second day. Day two is the final round where the best in each class compete for King and Queen of the Mountain. In the past, the highest mark was declared the winner, however, with the evolution of sled technology, almost all sleds can end up reaching the top. Consequently, the quickest timed athlete is declared the winner. This is a fast-paced event with each lane taking between 1 to 1.5 minutes to complete. More info: www.rmsha.net
Tips from Keith Curtis
• Attend an event. With seven or eight to choose from, you will be treated to scenic locations, but book your hotel in advance, as space is often limited.
• Familiarize yourself with RMSHA rules and ISR Hillclimb rules. These can be found on the RMSHA website at www.rmsha.net.
• Look through the classes, and determine which class best fits you and your skill level.
• Get a sled, or make sure your current sled will pass the tech inspection necessary for your class. There are rules that include everything from snow flaps to Tek Vests. Get the complete list on the RMSHA website.
• Assemble a pit crew and invest in backup necessities like tools, extra parts, clutching and gearing components. A jack stand is also suggested for warming up your sled in the pit.
• Get to know the RMSHA racers and board members. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Many are happy to impart their wisdom to up and coming racers.
• Register for classes and purchase a RMSHA membership and ISR license.
• Get fit, get lots of seat time and practice before the first competition.
• Before the race, walk the racecourse and follow the footsteps of top racers.
• Bring your A-game and have fun!
NOTE: Curtis is currently a Polaris Factory Rider and the winningest athlete in RMSHA history.
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