The key to growth in any sport is getting the youth involved—this ensures a healthy crop of participants will always be moving up through the ranks into adulthood. The problem with introducing children to snowmobiling has always been in the equipment; with little profit to be made off mid-sized machines, manufacturers have neglected this population. Sure, there are models for very small children but the middle years have very little out there unless they are to move into a smaller, underpowered adult machine.
The problem with sending children off on adult machines has always been the safety issue of too much power or a cumbersome machine that does not handle well for their weight and strength. This is where Phantom snowmobiles steps in. Based out of Ontario, they produce three sleds that are set up to introduce adolescent (or small adult) beginners through to trail-oriented intermediate and snocross racing machines.
A Phantom sled is three-quarters the size of an adult machine with similar features at one-third of the price. The sled's 250-cc four-stroke motor is the perfect complement to a machine that is set up to be ridden and manoeuvred by someone who is still growing. Any one of the three models will fit the absolute beginner as well as the child who is looking to get into snocross racing. With their scaled-down size, these sleds are the missing link between the mini and adult machines.
Following the company's roots, which can be traced back 40 years to oval racing, Phantom Powersports has signed on to support and sponsor two major Eastern events for this season.
In a move that speaks volumes about its desire to introduce young people to the sport in a safe and fun environment, Phantom Powersports hosted a Novice 250 Driver Safety and Skills Development Program at the Eagle River World Championships, as well as at every stop of the Eastern Pro Tour Oval Competition Series.
In a November press release, George Samson, president of the Eastern Pro Tour, said that "the road to becoming a future world champion begins with this program. By allowing young riders to evolve and become safely acquainted with a snowmobile designed specifically for them, we can teach improved rider skills, responsible fundamentals, safety and good old-fashioned winter fun."
Along with the driver safety program, Phantom Powersports provided a fleet of their 250-cc Phantom snowmobiles at the Eagle River World Championships for the Novice 250 Class debut ensuring that future racers had an opportunity to race on a snowmobile designed to be handled by someone with their experience and size.
In a sport that has been seeing a steady decline in numbers, Phantom snowmobiles may be an important part of the future. Introducing riders at a young age in a safe manner on the proper equipment not only means more fun for them but also adding another lifetime member to our tribe.