Trailbreakers nominated for 2011 Manitoba Tourism Award

by Kirsten Armleder

Photo of a guy riding a yellow sled through fresh powder.
Sledders from Thompson, Manitoba, take advantage of the area’s abundant snowfall. photo courtesy Kelly Martens

Members of the Thompson Trailbreakers snowmobile club have been recognized for their hard work in promoting and developing the snowmobiling opportunities around Thompson, Manitoba. Their club was recently nominated for a 2011 Manitoba Tourism Award in the product development category. The awards take place each year to recognize outstanding contributions to the tourism industry in Manitoba.

Last season, the Trailbreakers added approximately 230 kilometres of trails to their existing trail system. Now, the club members have a total of 590 kilometres to maintain, which is double the size of what they had two years ago. Kelly Martens, who is the president of the Thompson Trailbreakers, believes that is why the club was nominated for a Manitoba Tourism Award.

“We are actively trying to promote the area as a snowmobile tourist destination, as a lot of clubs are, because we always have good snow conditions and cold weather,” said Martens. “Also, two years ago, our club hosted a large snowmobile rally where we had snowmobilers from all over.”

The club has also hosted the Snowmobile Television show in Thompson, and because of that, there is a segment that airs regularly on the Outdoor Life Network, which lists Thompson as one of Canada’s top three places to go snowmobiling.

A winter wonderland

According to Martens, the sledding around Thompson and the rest of northern Manitoba is fantastic. He said that the trails take riders through vast wilderness areas with beautiful lakes, rivers and waterfalls. And snow is never in short supply.

“We get a minimum of three feet (of) snow, usually a lot more,” he said. “I met a lot of snowmobilers from the south last year who couldn’t believe how much snow we had.”

The club currently has 35 members and last year they sold between 700 and 800 trail passes to residents as well as visitors. The Trailbreakers organize several events each season, such as poker derbies, rallies, safety courses and club rides. To attract new members, the Trailbreakers had hot dog days last season—and it worked, there was a 15 per cent increase in membership.

The season ahead

Planning is already underway for the club’s next riding season. The 1st Annual Manitoba Provincial Snowmobile Rally is slated for February 15 to 17, 2012, and club members are in the middle of trying to secure approval for a 200-kilometre section of trail that would link up with the Gillam Snowmobile Club’s trail system north east of Thompson.

For a list of the 2011 Manitoba Tourism Award finalists, see the website

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