Leanne O’Neill attended the women’s snowmobile clinic in Wells over the weekend and learned some impressive skills. Contributed photo

Female snowmobilers gaining ground in the sport

Local clinic taught essential sledding skills in Wells, B.C.

Wells got an influx of women snowmobilers over the weekend.

A women-only snowmobile clinic took place Dec. 9-10 in the town, with 10 ladies from Quesnel, Prince George, Fort St. James and Bonnyville, Alberta attending to take pointers from the pros.

Professional snowmobiler Stephanie Schwartz led the clinic, assisted by Penny Cartwright.

Cartwright says there was enough snow in Wells to put on the clinic, although it wasn’t ideal conditions, and the clinic was a big success.

“We started out by going back to the basics for everyone. We saw we had a split in the group, five ladies who were on the beginner side and five who were ready to move to the next level.

“For the intermediate group, we had them learning a manoeuvre called J hook, which is getting your sled pointing in the opposite direction using your foot as a pivot. We also taught reading the terrain.

“The beginners were taught how to carve their sled and progressed into side hilling,” she says.

The clinic taught skills to increase attendees’ confidence in the back country, and also focused on some female-specific elements of sledding.

“For women, we have to throw our weight a bit differently; men can use their upper body strength more.

“We find a lot of women who only ride with their husbands or partners have learned from the men that ‘When in doubt, throttle out.’ That’s not the key. With women, throttle control is a huge element of riding. It’s about building the keys so you can build confidence when riding.”

Cartwright says women are coming into the sport more and more each year. Two years ago she held her first ladies’ ride and the feedback was phenomenal.

“That’s when I saw a need in the north,” she says.

Cartwright says she’s already spoken to Schwartz about returning next winter to do a more advanced clinic, so the intermediate riders can continue to progress.

“I love the sport and love getting the knowledge to people,” comments Cartwright.

She says she posts information on upcoming rides and clinics on Facebook in various sledding groups, and Full-Throttle Motorsports in Quesnel will have information on any upcoming events.

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