The storm may be thick, but the trail has bright spots ahead.
We just need to look through the fog of COVID.
In a year filled with risks, guidelines, restrictions, compromise, distancing, masks, limitation, and isolation, it may be tough to find an upside.
While there are many challenges, let’s look for a few bright spots and examples of a few positives and better times ahead.
The technology of our sport is at the highest levels of environmental efficiency, rider comfort and vehicle control and capability in the history of snowmobiles.
With red zones, yellow zones and border closure likely to continue, riders will be forced to explore new locations, trail systems and ways to enjoy snowmobiling in the 2021 season. New sights, adventures and trailside lunches may provide the memories of 2021 for many.
For years, the snowmobile industry has tried “without significant success” to introduce and attract new generations to snowmobiling. The introduction of new people has always been critical in keeping the future of snowmobiling not only strong but financially viable. Yet, the number of registrations and memberships continued to fall.
Everything COVID has motivated many people to, as Polaris says, “Think Outside.” New people, as well as returning snowmobilers, are anxious to connect or reconnect with the beauty and fresh air of winter in a new and modern way.
Sales of new and used snowmobiles have exceeded all expectations. This fact will keep snowmobile manufacturers financially healthy, which will result in continued investment, advancement and innovation.
As we know, our sport is pleasantly addicting. The sensations and sights of the snowmobiling world will keep many of these newcomers, just as it has kept generations of current riders.
These new riders will infuse Snowmobile Associations and Clubs with increased membership and revenues. With new blood come new volunteers, certainly not in equal numbers, but definitely in increased numbers. A few will likely replenish and invigorate the dwindling number of Club volunteers.
For those that do not catch the fever of our sport and choose not to continue, an increased supply of late model low mileage used sleds will once again be available.
Certainly, there are and will continue to be countless examples of challenges to snowmobile normalcy, camaraderie, and businesses. But the friendships will return, and for those businesses that can survive, reinvent themselves, reopen or begin as new, the future will once again be rewarding.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and for those whose 2021 season leaves them less than fulfilled, the ultimate return to normalcy will be appreciated to a much higher level going forward. Merchants, inn keepers and establishments will have a greater appreciation of snowmobilers and snowmobilers will have a greater appreciation of merchants, innkeepers and establishments.
Make no mistake about it. When the fog clears, the fullness of our passion and the passion of newcomers will endure, and the trail ahead will be bright.
Until then, stay safe, stay positive, test negative and adapt.