February 2017: Hotshot of the month

Shawn Schwengler sent us a photo of his custom-built 1990 Yamaha SnoSport

by Kirsten Armleder

A young boy airing out a Yamaha SnoSport.
An old sled sighting? Of sorts. Shawn Schwengler photo

If you pay attention to our Hotshots contest, you’ll notice several photos by Shawn Schwengler. The 42-year-old from Medicine Hat, Alberta, was chasing freshies between Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and Fernie, B.C., all winter. It wasn’t his scenic mountain shots that caught our judges’ attention, however. It was a photo of his son sending it on a custom-built Yamaha SnoSport. Below, we learn more Schwengler and his unique project sled.

How long have you been riding sleds?

I have been riding sleds since I could walk. A 1975 Sno-Jet SST was what we had growing up. I have been riding in the mountains for 25 years.

What’s your current ride?

I currently ride a 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder Turbo 162, and I love it.

How did you get into the sport?

My dad was always into sleds and it was just a natural thing to do for fun. I am very passionate about the sport and think it’s one of Canada’s greatest pastimes.

Where do you usually ride?

These days, I typically ride the Fernie area.

What is your favourite destination, and why?

I think out of all the places I’ve ridden—various places in Montana, Idaho, Alberta and British Columbia—when the snow is good, York Creek south of Coleman, Alberta, is one of my favourite tree riding areas.

What does your group do to stay safe when riding in the mountains?

I grew up in an era when thinking about avalanche safety wasn’t like it is today. Most of us in our group have avalanche training, wear a beacon, probe, shovels, airbags and all the survival gear to spend the night. We all have some kind of hand-held satellite communication. Along with the training and gear, we spend time reading terrain and making sure we don’t get caught in a terrain trap. Also, we watch the avalanche bulletins daily.

Tell us about the day you took this photo.

This Yamaha SnoSport I built for the kids. We went to my brother’s farm and let all the kids have fun on a spring day. They decided they wanted to do some jumping, so we built a ramp and got some great photos. My son was 12 years old in the picture and my daughter was nine. The Yamaha SnoSport 125-cc is a 1990. It’s the big brother to the SnoScoot 80-cc. I found a broken SnoSport and went to work modifying it to make it work better in deeper snow. I installed a hydraulic brake, a 121 x 1 ¼ track, a custom suspension and custom-built running boards and tunnel. I installed an LED headlight and custom handlebars. This sled took a few hours to build.

Related Articles

Submit Tell us why you ride

SnoRiders wants to hear your story. What you ride, where you ride and why you ride.

Herb Shaede accepts the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation award for Groomer of the Year.
Meet the Rider, Revelstoke, BC This award-winning groomer has snowmobiled across Canada

Herb Shaede, award-winning groomer for the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, leaves trails smoother than a billiard tabletop

by Kyle Born
David Norona sits on his snowmobile, looking into the mountains in the distance.
Meet the Rider, Vancouver Coast and Mountains, BC David Norona has mastered the power of positivity

David Norona, BCSF president’s award winner in Squamish, B.C., encourages snowmobilers to give of themselves

by Kyle Born
Brennan Boxall stands behind his black snowmobile, a 2014 Wahl Bros Champ.
Meet the Rider, Nipawin, SK Tinkering away until race day is the best way to keep opponents at bay

Brennan Boxall, ice oval racer from Nipawin, Saskatchewan, modifies his sleds to podium-finishing results

by Kyle Born
View all Meet the Rider articles