World Championship Snowmobile Derby

Emily Bright / WXPR News

Eagle River claims it’s the Hockey Capital of Wisconsin, and for the 3 days of the Pond Hockey Championship, you believe it. Over 300 teams come from across the country to play, drawn by the cold winters that typically ensure good ice conditions.  It’s a tough but nostalgic sport that seems to keep teams coming back again and again. 

Rinks separated by snow banks are packed in so close it’s hard to tell where fans’ cheers and referee whistles are directed. Bill Trosien is playing for his 7th year.

Emily Bright

The World Championship Snowmobile Derby take places in Eagle River this weekend, with the vintage classes wrapping up last weekend.  WXPR’s Emily Bright takes a behind-the-scenes look at the camaraderie and competition of the international snowmobile races going on in our own backyard.

Emily Bright


The frigid weather we've experienced lately is perfect for one group: those working hard to prepare the snowmobile track for the upcoming Vintage and World Championship races.

Joe Ross

There wasn’t enough snow in Eagle River to build its famous ice castle this year, but there is enough to make winter recreation enthusiasts happy.  

Good snow conditions and low gas prices mean tourists are coming north to enjoy winter sports. Kim Emerson, Executive Director of the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, says as usual over Christmas break there were many visitors out cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and, of course, snowmobiling.

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Snowmobile World Championship is expected to draw tens of thousands.  But the vintage races also draw a crowd.

Vintage cars, vintage records…but vintage snowmobiles?  That I had not heard of before moving to the Northwoods. I was curious about what draws people to the sport, so I headed to the offices of the Eagle River derby track for the weekend of the vintage racing championship. 

I interrupt the busy office clamor with my request.  Audrey Decker is wearing a vintage snowmobile  – black sweater with orange stripes, and fluffy lambs wool boots. 

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Vintage snowmobile racers compete this weekend in Eagle River in the world championship.  

The world championship may be a week away…but spectators at the vintage race are all about the here and now.  The qualifying rounds for the vintage championship are filled with sleds from the 70s and 80s…or older.  They’re smaller and more antique looking than today’s ultrafast monsters.  And though next weekend’s races will draw a bigger crowd, more people enter the vintage categories.  Elmer Jensen is a longtime volunteer at the derby. 

Minnesota Historical Society

The cold weather has been a concern for some, but the cold has helped promoters get the 51st World Championship Snowmobile Derby track ready in Eagle River.

The event begins Thursday through Sunday with vintage snowmobile races, with the World Championship racing competition the following weekend.

Track owner and coordinator Chuck Decker says the cold has given them a boost...