January 15 - 21 is International Snowmobile Safety Week. It’s a time to revel in a favourite winter pastime for many, but also to take stock of enjoying the sport safely. Saskatchewan is a playground for snowmobilers, and hundreds of miles of groomed trails are a critical part of providing a safe ride for everyone.

Darrell Crone from Annaheim is with the Naicam Snowblasters who help maintain a major snowmobiling trail in east central Saskatchewan. That trail extends from Humboldt eastward to around Kipabiskau Lake north east of Naicam. Crone says the trails are in great shape. 

“The trails are doing very well,” assessed Crone. “The groomer went to the east side of Kip and around, and as we speak, they are out grooming on the west side. Everything is smooth and ready to go. There’s lots of warm up shelters to stop at through our system.”

The snowfall this winter has provided excellent coverage and that’s meant a fantastic base with repeated grooming up to this point.

“It’s the fourth or fifth pass. Just stick to the trail and you’ll be safe. Come on out, ride the trails and support the Naicam Snowblasters.”

The club supports its activities, along with the trail maintenance through raffle tickets. Those are available at local businesses, at Darrell’s Small Motors in Annaheim, and inquiries can be made through the Naicam Snowblasters’ Facebook page.  

As part of Snowmobile Safety Week, Crone reminds riders to adhere to trail rules and common sense when it comes to sledding.

“Stick to the speed limit - 80 km an hour. Our trail is very well marked. There’s no reason to get lost, and as you know, the law is now no trespassing. Stick to the groomed Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association trail.”

Here are some key safety tips from the SSA for an excellent ride this winter.

1. Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during snowmobiling.

2. Become familiar with the snowmobile you ride.

3. Operate at safe and reasonable speeds.

4. Stay on trails and areas where snowmobiling is permitted.

5. Avoid travel on unfamiliar frozen bodies of water.

6. Using extra caution at night.

7. Keep your snowmobile properly maintained.

8. Become familiar with the terrain you will travel on.

9. Listen to the weather forecast before you leave.

10. Always wear a helmet and proper clothing.

11. Never riding alone, and letting someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

12. Carrying emergency supplies and learning survival skills.