Soldotna High School senior Carly Davis has had a busy race season this year. Two more races one in Valdez, the other at Alyeska Resort will finish her season.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Whether it was on a snowmachine or on an airplane, 17-year-old Soldotna High School senior Carly Davis did a lot of flying this season.
Davis finished up her first full season on the World Powersports Association Powersports Snowmobile National Tour by finishing fourth in the pro women class at the Nielsen Enterprises Grand Finale in Lake Geneva, Wis., from March 14 to 16.
As the only Alaskan riding on the tour that centers in the Midwest, Davis definitely put in the most miles traveling to and from the five races available to pro women on the tour.
"I'd go down each weekend," Davis said. "I'd fly down on Thursday and come back next Monday. On a couple races that were back-to-back, I'd just stay until the next weekend and race. It's too much money to keep flying back and forth."
While doing snocross, which is like motocross on a snowmachine, Davis also did her share of flying. She said one of the biggest challenges of moving up to the national circuit was that 100-foot trips through the air are necessary to be competitive.
By taking the 100-foot leap, Davis said other jumps are skipped and a lot of time is cut.
"It's really intimidating, especially for us girls," Davis said. "I tend to go around the track just thinking about it, and thinking about not doing it.
"Once you go out there and commit, and do it for the first time, you've done it and you get a lot more comfortable on the track. You tend to succeed a lot more once you're comfortable with the track."
The first exposure to the national circuit for Davis came last season, when she flew down for the Air Force Canterbury Snocross in Shakopee, Minn. Davis said she has been riding snowmachines practically since she was born. She's been in snocross in Alaska since age 11. That experience served her well as she finished fifth in her first national circuit race.
"I wanted to see where I'd be at in that circuit," she said. "After that, my dad and I decided to do it full time and hit all of the races."
Davis' dad is Scott Davis, the seven-time Tesoro Iron Dog champion. Carly said she gets a lot of support from her dad, mother Connie Green and brother Cory Davis. Cory won the WPSA semi-pro open division title last year before getting full sponsorship from Yamaha this season. Injuries have hurt his current racing season.
"He's definitely one of my biggest heroes," Carly said of her brother. "He's out there not only doing snocross, but he also does freestyle. To do as well as he was doing is a cool thing."
Carly also said her father's support and knowledge have been invaluable.
"After my first race last year I had no idea what to think," she said. "After I finished fifth, my dad kept telling me I could finish in the top two. He said, 'I know you're good enough, you just have to get it through your head.'
"Now I'm out there getting third, just behind the second-place winner."
Davis' first podium finish came this year in Shakopee, where she nabbed a third-place finish. Davis, racing against many competitors in their mid-20s, finished between third and fifth for most of the season.
Davis said she has to work on a number of aspects of her riding.
"Being able to corner really, really good, and not letting off the gas," she said. "You have to be constantly on the gas, that's a huge advantage. I tend to go in the corner and let off.
"Also, being able to jump the jumps and clear them completely is a bid advantage to finishing in the top three."
There is more to snocross than just riding. Davis said the sport extracts a tremendous physical toll. She said the first race on the national circuit drew 16 women, while the second race drew just seven.
"Those women realized, 'I just can't handle this. They're too good,'" Davis said.
She said she trains for a couple of hours a day doing either running, bicycling, weight lifting, Pilates, yoga and a medicine ball to get her body in shape to take the pounding of snocross.
"I love it that there are not many girls out there who can handle this," Davis said. "I feel very lucky to be doing what I'm doing.
"I got down there, and in my first race, on lap four, I was just gasping for air. My quads felt so weak. You've got to be in so much shape to be able to hit those big jumps."
Davis said she wants to follow her brother's lead and get a sponsorship deal from a snowmachine manufacturer and race the circuit again next year.
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