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Snocross at the 2007 Winter X Games

Snocross (also snowcross) is a racing sport involving racing specialized high performance snowmobiles on natural or artificially-made tracks consisting of tight turns, banked corners, steep jumps and obstacles. Riders race at speed of up to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour).[1] Jumps are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall, so riders travel up to 130 feet (40 meters) before they touch the ground.[1] According to the World Snowmobile Association which governs snocross, watercross, and hillcross racing, snocross is the most popular form of snowmobile racing.[2]

Snocross was derived from the sport of motocross. The name is a portmanteau of the words "snowmobile" and "motocross". The sport uses a snowmobile instead of a motorcycle, and a snow/ice surface instead of dirt. The snow/ice surface which is either natural or man-made.[3] Tracks are generally located in higher latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere since temperatures below freezing are required to maintain the frozen track surface. Motorcycle riders in motocross and supercross frequently compete in snocross in the winter.[3]

Snocross became an event at the X Games in 1998.[4] X Games is a popular gathering place for some snow-related sports in the United States. The course at the first snocross event at the X Games resembled a motocross course; it was significantly longer than courses are now. It had deeper holes and higher jumps that are now filled in with snow.[4]


The snowmobiles vary significantly depending on their class. Sanctioning bodies are governed by International Snowmobile Racing (ISR) rules. Drivers are required to wear a helmet with a minimum of 50% International (Blaze) Orange. (Rule of thumb, a credit card placed anywhere on the helmet must contact orange), racing suit (must have a minimum of 144 square inches of orange on front and back), gloves, goggles/eye protection, leather boots, shin guards, elbow pads, neck braces, knee guards, and upper body protection (Motocross vests are NOT legal for Snocross. Hearing protection is often required in non-stock classes.[5]


Races start with the drivers forming a line abreast at the start line. The event begins with either a drop of a green flag by the starter or by the starter turning on a light. Like other sports derived from cross country running, the winner is often the rider who has the best holeshot.[6] The event may be stopped for a dangerous condition. The snowmobiles are lined up for the restart by their position in the race, with the drivers involved in the stoppage starting in the rear. The winner of the event is the rider who finishes first in the feature event.[5] Events attract over 10,000 spectators.[3]

Typically, a snocross event uses the standard short-track motorsport standard of qualifying rounds, heat races, consolation final, and the feature.

Major events

Snocross by region

United States

Snocross riders entering a corner

The United States has a national sanctioning body called International Series of Champions (ISOC). It replaced the World PowerSports Association. The body sanctions eight points paying national races in 2012-2-13. It also hosts state and regional series in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.[7] Events are televised.[8]

Rock Maple Racing sanctioned 14 events in the Northeastern United States before becoming the East Coast Snocross series. Mountain West Racing sanctions on eight events in northern Rocky Mountains states. There is a snocross track in Wauconda, Illinois. It is home to the Winter Thunder Challenge snocross club, an ISOC affiliate, and they have to make snow to make up for the lack of snowfall.


The Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (CSRA) hosts 5 national points paying events. It hosts five regional races, and several non-points in the United States in combination with the World PowerSports Association.[9]

The Ultimate Canadian Motorsports Association (UCMA) previously known as the North West Racing Association (NWRA) hosts 8 to 10 events in Central and Western Canada, with races held in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and north west Ontario.


The sport is popular in the Nordic countries, but its popularity is raising in former Soviet republics as well as Iceland and in the Alps. There has been several manufacturers in earlier years, but Lynx -a subdivision of the Canadian company Bombardier, is the only producer left besides the big four; Yamaha, Polaris, Arctic Cat and Ski-Doo.

Racing is competed in several classes, but the most competitive ones are the ProStock and the ProOpen. Both are for maximum of 600 cm³ and for adults of at least 16 years old. Winners of the Norwegian championship 2008 is Johan Ivvar Gaup and Jostei Biti (ProStock & Pro Open)

Video games

See also


  1. ^ a b 2007 Rock Maple Snocross Racing, January 26, 2007, Retrieved December 4, 2007
  2. ^ Skowhegan will play host to large snocross event; Portland Press Herald, February 6, 2004; Deirdre Fleming, Retrieved December 5, 2007
  3. ^ a b c WPSA SnoCross Duluth Results, November 27, 2007; Jeffrey Banks,, Retrieved December 4, 2007
  4. ^ a b The Best North American Snowmobile Competitions; snowmobilingweb, June 4, 2007; Retrieved December 5, 2007
  5. ^ a b "Mountain West Racing 2008 Snocross rules" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  6. ^ Polaris shows 2003 440 ProX racer, Wade West; October 15, 2002, Retrieved December 4, 2007
  7. ^ Polaris Snocross Racers Are Focused on Thanksgiving Weekend Season Opener, November 5, 2007, Polaris Industries press release, Retrieved December 4, 2007
  8. ^ Nielson Enterprises SnoCross Grand Finale, Championship Snowmobile Racing, Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Retrieved December 4, 2007
  9. ^ 2008 Events Schedule for Canadian Snowcross Racing Association, Retrieved December 4, 2007

External links

  • The International Series of Champions (United States, Canada)
  • Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (Canada)
  • Ultimate Canadian Motorsports Association (Canada)
  • United States Cross Country Snowmobile Racing Association (United States)
  • Rock Maple Racing (United States)
  • Winter Thunder Challenge (United States)
  • X Games Snocross Game for iPhone/iPod Touch on the Appstore
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