Left forefinger on the brake, right thumb gently pressing the throttle. Eyes on the green flag. The snowmobile I’m sitting on is lined up next to nine others on the starting line. Side by side, ski by ski, ten women behind the handlebars. I can hear my own pounding heartbeat and the rising engine speed that carries through the earplugs. The flag swings, and I hit the throttle. The snowmobile rushes forwards, as do the nine others next to me. We are racing!
I aim for the inside line for the first corner. The sled follows my orders, even though it is the first time I’m riding it. I have ridden a snowmobile before, but never one quite like this. This one is a Lynx G-type, model -99. I, on the other hand, have only ever first sat on a snowmobile some 15 years later. It is April 2021, but the snowmobiles gathered at the Proboost Arctic Center snowcross track in Rovaniemi give no hint of the ongoing year. A wide range of sleds is represented, from the 70s old school leafers to the models of the early 2000s. The modern-day snowmobiles are conspicuously absent. The Wintage Weikot snowmobile club is holding its final vintage snowcross race of the season.
The event has brought together a great number of racers, but alongside long-term enthusiasts, there are also many rookies on the starting line today. The club has noted the enthusiasm for snowmobiling among a growing number of women and arranged a chance for women riders to come and try the sport. They are loaning out vintage snowmobiles for those willing to race.
Racing requires courage, and these women do not lack it. They have taken the opportunity and embarked on an adventure. Many of them have never raced before, let alone measured their skills and speed on a snowcross track. In addition to sheer courage, it requires bravery verging on madness to line up on the starting line with a foreign snowmobile. The vintage snowmobiles differ from modern-day sleds in many ways. The geometry of the sled and the low riding position make the handling different, and the engine with a carburetor, choke, and primer proves challenging to start if one isn’t familiar with the tricks.
The women have thrown themselves into the adventure. Some have traveled hundreds of kilometers just to get to spend a few laps behind the handlebars of a vintage sled. Retro outfits have been dug out of the wardrobes to function as theme-fitting racing gear. The racers make brief acquaintance with their loaned snowmobiles under the guidance of the sled-owners, and off they go. After two practice laps, it is time for action. I have hardly had time to familiarize myself with the G-type underneath me, but apparently, a Lynx is always a Lynx. It feels just right – good to ride and good in my heart.