Robinson sweeps at Hillclimb

February 8, 2023

It was promoted as one of the most challenging courses in the 32 year history of Snowmobile Hillclimbs at Whealkate Bluff in South Range.  The Vollwerth’s Meats-Pat’s Motorsports-Wildlife Refuge Cabins WINTERNATIONALS, presented by Keweenaw Chevrolet-GMC lived up to the hype.

Photo courtesy of DHITV: Pat’s Motorsports Tyler Robinson swept both the Wildlife Refuge Cabins Pro Stock King of the HIll and the Vollwerth’s Meats Pro Mod King of the Hill

“It was a challenge from the start on Saturday to the finals on Sunday,” exclaimed Tyler Robinson of Afton, Wyoming.  “The degree of difficulty is evident when one looks at how few made it over the top.  This includes some of the MASTERS top riders!”

Robinson was the only one of the 4 that won their Pro Stock Class to qualify for the Wildlife Refuge Cabins Pro Stock King of the Hill.   Robinson set the bar by making it over the steep bluff in 34.71 seconds.  Robinson is one of the 2 Mid America Snow & Terrain Expert Racers (MASTERS) that represented the MASTERS and Pat’s Motorsports Polaris in advancing to the finals at the World Championship Hillclimb in Jackson, Wyoming.

The other driver from the MASTERS to advance to the finals in Jackson, was Muskego, Wisconsin’s Jordan Stank.  Stank drew to go first in the Pro Stock King of the Hill Shoot-out and shot his Polaris outside the ‘groove’ and ended up only going 57 yards. 

Photo courtesy of David Archambeau, Daily Mining Gazette: Former Sledhead member and MTU Alumnus, Jordan Stank won 2 Pro Classes

The winner of the Pro Stock 700 Class was the Midwest’s former Top Junior Division hillclimber, Wyatt McIntyre.  McIntyre, another Pat’s Motorsports Polaris driver went 155 yards before he needed the help of the Sigma Tau Gamma Hill Jockeys.

After Robinson crested the hill, it was up to the MASTERS #1 Hillclimber, Jimmy Marietta of Hubbell.  “It was a tough course.  I just had a hard time and Tyler (Robinson) had an excellent run,” stated Marietta.  He made it up 147 yards, giving the Pro Stock King of the Hill and an extra $500 to Robinson.

Marietta and Stank had another shot in the Vollwerth’s Meat Pro Mod King of the Hill.  Also in that shootout was the winner of the Moyle Construction Pro Open Mod Class, Dave Dishaw.  Dishaw and his 906 Services team already had the Vintage II 1st Place, and had beat Marietta in that class.

Dishaw drew the Ace to go first in the Pro Mod Shoot-out.  He set the bar with an amazing 37.66 run.  One of the fastest runs of the weekend on a Diamond House International Ski-Doo.

Robinson went next and right from the start the fans could see he was going to push his sled to the max.  Robinson beat Dishaw by only 1.1 second, a 36.72.  As the course was wearing down, Jordan Stank ran a 42.11.  Marietta turned in a 54.35, giving Robinson another $500 and a clean sweep of the Pro Division.

“I was physically beat.  I just didn’t have the strength to go any faster.  Especially to beat Tyler’s (Robinson) 36 second run or Dave’s (Dishaw) 37 second run,” commented Stank.  “I was happy winning 2 classes and making it into the Shoot-out.  That’s everyone’s goal, as anything can happen.”

In addition to Robinson reserving his spot in the World Championship, so did Mohawk’s Stephanie Lynn Monette.  She captured the Patriot Towing Queen of the Hill for the 2nd straight year.  This year she held off 2 Women competing in a MASTERS Hillclimb for the 1st time, Britt Koskinen of Baraga and Brooke Turin of Greenland.  Last year’s other qualifier for the WC (World Championship), Destiny Welch of Brook Park, Minnesota failed to advance to the Finals.

The final qualifier for the WC was Nissula’s Kaeden Kaurala.  Kaurala won the Junior King of the Hill holding off Braeden Kirtland of Mass City and Laurium’s Steve Voelker.  All three are sons of the long running Circuit’s top Pro Drivers, Travis Kaurala, Mike Kirtland, and Paul Voelker.  This was Kirtland and Voelker’s first time competing in a MASTERS Hillclimb.

Photo Courtesy of the MASTERS: (L to R) Emmett Forcia, Jemma Marietta, Addison Dishaw. Marietta and Forcia took 1st and 2nd in 120 and Dishaw won the Queen of the Hill in 250

With the MASTERS proudly stating that the Circuit is a ‘family’ circuit, this was proven true in the Sigma Tau Gamma Kids King/Queen of the Hill.  Dave Dishaw’s daughter, Addison won the 250 class and Jimmy Marietta’s daughter, Jemma, won the 120 class.  The Marietta’s are the MASTERS 2nd 3rd Generation racers.  Neil Marietta, Jr. is a former King of the Hill and made a return to hillclimbing at the Winternationals.  Also keeping it in the family was Emmett Forcia.  Emmett’s Dad. Leif Jr. and Grandfather Leif Sr, all raced in MASTERS events.

It was Dave Dishaw that went the highest to win the Vintage II, Jimmy Marietta took 2nd and Ontonagon’s Ryan Huff took a 3rd.  No Vintage II driver made it over the top all weekend.

Photo courtesy of David Archambeau, Daily Mining Gazette: Ontonagon’s 906 Services Dave Dishaw won the Vintage II and Pro Mod Open

It was another ‘family affair’ in the Snow Bike competition.  This time between the Joliff Brothers of Mass City.  In the Snow Bike shoot-out KJ Joliff made it over the top in his Qualifying run, which was the first to make it over the Wall on Saturday (44.15).  KJ came back to advance to the shoot-out with an amazing 42.46 run.  In the Shoot-out he had his best run of the day, a 41.29 second run.  Colin Kemppainen took second based on his high mark, and Colin Joliff took third based on distance in the shoot-out.

“I had a blast.  I really want to thank the MASTERS for a great event,” KJ Joliff stated on social media.

The Spirit Class for those 40 and older saw a return of 3 MASTERS Hall of Fame members, Al Turin of Greenland, Layne Stank of Menomonee, and Wyler Miller of Baraga.  Also competing was Neil Marietta, Jr., and one of the 1st Hillclimbers to dominate for years, Mike Fraki of Atlantic Mine.  Minnesota’s Eugene Welch and Marquette’s Tony Kyto has Hillclimbing experience.  The only ‘new’ drivers to compete was Matt Kerstner of White Pine, and Larry Madgewick of Rockland.

“One can put all the past experience, and accolades on a paper plate to hold a Dogfathers Concessions Vollwerth’s Bratwurst.  None of it matters,” proclaimed Madgewick.  When the Snow Dust settled it was the 906 Services Kerstner that won the Spirit Class.

Photo courtesy of David Archambeau, Daily Mining Gazette: You can see how steep Whealkate Bluff in South Range is as White Pine’s Matt Kerstner crests the hill to win the Spirit Class

Fellow 906 Services team member, Daymin Heikkila of Ontonagon was the only one to have the courage to run an old Ski Doo Leaf Spring Sled up the hill 93 yards in Vintage I.

With over 1000 racers, crew members, and sponsors competing in the 32 year history of the MASTERS, the 8th person was inducted into the Circuit’s Hall of Fame.  That was former Hillclimber, Snow Drag Racer, and Head of Course Construction, Jason Kleinschmidt.  Kleinschmidt passed away after a 5 year battle with Cancer last April.  His Wife Tanya, Daughter Amber, Sons Michael and Mathew, Daughter in Law Stephanie and Granddaughters Izzy and Oakland were on hand for the ceremonial induction.

Michael ran his father’s sled in the competition and ended up with a 3rd in Pro Stock 700.  In that snowmobile was Jason’s ashes.  “I know my Dad was with me.  This meant a lot to our family.  Dad loved the MASTERS and Hillclimbing,” stated an emotional (Michael) Kleinschmidt of Milton, Wisconsin.

The MASTERS will hold the Mid America Championship Hillclimb at Whealkate Bluff in South Range on Feb 25-26th.  It will be at this Hillclimb that 8 entries to the World Championship will be handed out.  Than the following Saturday, the MASTERS will have its Terra-X/Vintage Enduro Championships behind the North Country Snowmobile Clubhouse in Ontonagon.

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