Embracing her need for speed and snow
By Leslie Kostal
February 14, 2013
Kim Scott was a teen when she had her first snowmobile ride, taking turns in a field, not wanting to stop. Comparing herself to the Energizer Bunny, she just wanted to keep going.
Scott, a Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry curriculum administrative assistant, and her family live beside the Thames River. Roughly 10 years ago, friends brought snowmobiles to their home to do some fast riding on the frozen water. Hooked by the rush of the ride once again, she has been sledding and upgrading machinery ever since.
“When it freezes, we have almost a mile that we can go back and forth. We use that to speed,” she said, bowing her head, peeking up warily, smiling puckishly.
Some people go way over the limit. Scott goes only as fast as it fits.
“It’s much more fun at night,” she admitted. “I don’t know if it’s the fact that your vision is limited or if it’s just the unknown. It does get the adrenaline pumping.
If there’s no local snow, as has been the case in recent years, Huntsville is typically the answer. “And it’s usually a gamble,” she said. “You want to go when the lakes are frozen. They’re big lakes.”
Seasonal fees of $260 pay for trail maintenance. Grooming machines flatten trails taking out all the nicks. “It certainly makes the ride a lot more comfortable,” Scott said, “because if they’re not groomed it hurts your back. It’s a rough ride.”
Just north of Huntsville, she runs narrow trails only as wide as a groomer. “It’s just really beautiful up there. The trees are really tall. There are waterfalls and a 60-foot drop into a raging river. It’s postcard perfect,” she said smiling. “It’s kind of a social thing.”
Clubs have fundraisers such as a ride for breast cancer. Clubhouses are right on the trails and often farmers donate a building sitting on the edge of their field – a shack really, with a fireplace to warm up. There are poker runs where sledders take a card at designated stops.
Usually, after the first couple of rides of the season, Scott’s whole body is sore.
“You’re constantly making sure you’re steering properly. It’s a lot of work shifting your body.” Even a miscalculated lean can be hazardous. Scott tipped her sled at a driveway drop, running the risk of her 500-pound machine landing right on top of her. Luckily, it missed.
“Actually, you know what, that’s not the scariest thing that ever happened to me,” she continued. “I was behind my son and we were going across the field and I was looking at my speedometer and proud of how fast I was going.”
Not paying attention, she realized her son and husband had stopped. As she slammed on the brakes the snowmobile threw her off sideways.
“I was looking up, my helmet all full of snow and my son was looking down at me shaking his head.”
Unlike many cold-loathing Canadians who fancy island hopping with sun and sand as a winter getaway, the Scott family dreams of balaclavas, gloves, snowsuits and warming huts, hopping from cottage to cottage with enough snow to speed along freshly groomed, snow covered trails.
Leslie Kostal, web administrative assistant, Department of Economics, writes periodic pieces profiling Western staff members. If you, or someone you know, has an interesting story to tell, please email her at Leslie.Kostal@uwo.ca.
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