For the second year in a row, Brok Shafer was the first one up the mountain.
Shafer, an avid snowmachiner from Anchor Point, won his second straight King of the Hill title last week with his performance at the Valdez Mountain Man Hill Climb.
"I've been riding snowmachines forever," Shafer said of his preparation for the event. "I don't have a strategy, I just like riding snowmachines. You've got to ride as hard as you can if you want to win. It does take skill."
Shafer was one of a large contingent of snowmachiners from the Kenai Peninsula to participate -- and excel -- at the event hosted by the Valdez Snowmachine Club.
The competition takes place on a half-mile-long course on Odyssey Mountain in Thompson Pass.
The starting elevation is at 2,600 feet, but the course climbs quickly, with the finish line at 4,300 feet.
"It takes off gradually at the bottom, but it gets up pretty vertical," Shafer said.
Shafer was the top racer in the modified class King of the Hill race. His title-winning run was clocked at 1 minute, 16.46 seconds.
The top three racers in each class qualify for the King of the Hill round of racing. Shafer's run was the fastest of the round, giving him the overall title to go with the modified crown.
"It's won each year by a modified sled -- they just go faster," Shafer said. "Basically, they're all custom-built machines. You put 'em together and ride 'em."
Shafer placed first in the modified 1500 cc class and also won the improved stock 700 cc race.
Improved stock machines are all stock, but riders are allowed to tinker with the engine to improve performance while a stock machine is all stock parts with no modifications.
Kenai's John Wichman also had a great day on the mountain, edging Shafer to win the modified 800 cc race after taking the modified 700 cc race. Wichman also won the stock 700 cc and stock 800 cc races, and clocked the fastest time in the stock King of the Hill race at 1:21.73, edging Soldotna's Morril Mahan by 22-hundredths of a second.
"Usually, every year I go down and place third," Wichman said. "I've done a lot more racing and training other than hill climbing this year, and that seemed to help out.
"... There's not really any strategy, just (experience) from years of doing it. I won King of the Hill at (another hill climb at) Alyeska, and I've been doing it for several years. Whoever can keep her going fastest through that bumpy, nasty course and get around the gates fastest is all it is."
Wichman said in the stock class he was riding the snowmachine his father uses to run in and out of the Caribou Hills, and was riding a friend's snowmachine in the improved stock class. Wichman said his modified rides were courtesy of sponsor Mountain Madness.
"They were awesome," Wichman said.
Wichman said he went to Valdez with a large support crew as he and two other riders were using 10 different snowmachines.
For his part, Shafer brought a large group from the south peninsula in addition to brothers Cam and Cap.
"We have a lot of friends around here that snowmachine and we try to get as many people to go," Shafer said. "We try to make it a yearly event. We went to Jackson Hole (Wyo.) the week before, came back and had some fun in Valdez."
Other peninsula riders to win races at the Valdez Hill Climb include Mahan in the stock 500 cc class and improved stock 600 cc class and Scott Jackson of Soldotna in the masters class.
2003 Valdez Mountain Man
Stock Class King of the Hill -- John Wichman, Kenai, 1 minute, 21.73 seconds
Improved Stock Class King of the Hill -- Marty Mobley, Palmer, 1:19.06
Modified Class King of the Hill -- Brok Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:16.46
Overall King of the Hill -- Brok Shafer, Anchor Point
500 cc -- 1. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:18.46; 3. Chet Williams, Anchor Point, 1:24.19. 600 -- 2. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:20.48; 4. Cam Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:21.93; 6. Chet Williams. Anchor Point, 1:25.21; 7. Everett Collins, Sterling, 1:29.42. 700 -- 1. John Wichman, Kenai, 1:15.85; 4. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:18.18; 12. Everett Collins, Sterling, 1:26.15; 13. Ryan Turkington, Homer, 1:27.59; 17. Thomas Boden, Homer, 1:42.69. 800 -- 1. John Wichman, Kenai, 1:13.84; 4. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:18.19; 9. Cap Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:22.62; 10. Doug Machado, Kenai, 1:22.83; 12. Daniel Haakenson, Sterling, 1:23.29; 17. Everett Collins, Sterling, 1:28.49.
600 -- 1. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:29.58. 700 -- Brok Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:24.35; 4. Jeff Hanson, Soldotna, 1:30.90; 6. Jacob Adams, Anchor Point, 1:43.98. 800 -- 2. John Wichman, Kenai, 1:18.32; 4. Jeff Hanson, Soldotna, 1:22.03; 5. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:22.25; 7. Andy Roderick, Anchor Point, 1:24.14; 11. Mel Matthews, Ninilchik, 1:38.27. 1000 -- 3. Doug Machado, Kenai, 1:24.40; 4. Jeff Hanson, Soldotna, 1:25.55; 8. Mel Matthews, Ninilchik, 1:37.96.
1. Scott Jackson, Soldotna, 1:26.24; 2. Joe Dragseth, Kenai, 1:44.78.
600 -- 2. Brok Shafer, Anchor Point, high mark. 700 -- 1. John Wichman, Kenai, 1:15.15; 4. Brok Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:21.27; 5. Scott Jackson, Soldotna, 1:21.49; 7. Cap Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:29.06. 800 -- 1. John Wichman, Kenai, 1:17.96; 2. Brok Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:18.77; 3. Cam Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:19.01; 6. Scott Jackson, Soldotna, 1:22.22; 8. Doug Machado, Kenai, 1:25.05; 9. Andy Roderick, Anchor Point, 1:28.33; 11. Cap Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:29.11; 15. Chet Williams, Anchor Point, 1:37.88; 16. Ryan Turkington, Homer, 1:43.68. 1500 -- 1. Brok Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:16.47; 3. John Wichman, Kenai, 1:18.01; 4. Cam Shafer, Anchor Point, 1:18.03; 5. Morril Mahan, Soldotna, 1:19.47; 8. Scott Jackson, Soldotna, 1:24.10.
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