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Former hockey player sets record for snowmobile jump

Paul Thacker first visited Gimli 15 years ago when he played for Souris Elks against Gimli Vikings in a Manitoba Junior ‘B’ Hockey League game.

He returned for a second time last Friday as the holder of the record for the world’s longest snowmobile jump.

The 35 year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, stopped at Chudd’s Chrysler and Power Sports dealership as part of his current tour to promote Polaris products across the land. Since leaving junior hockey behind, he has concentrated on a snowmobiling career and risen to become one of the globe’s top professional riders.

"My record distance for a snowmobile jump is 301.5 feet which translates to 100 yards," Thacker said " I was going more than 90 miles an hour up the ramp when I set it on March 24, 2009 in Brainerd, Minnesota."

A pro rider for more than 20 years, Thacker earns his living by racing in competitions and staging exhibitions where he performs back flips and other tricks. He augments these earnings by representing sponsors who make snowmobile machines, clothing and energy drinks. These include Polaris snowmobiles made in Roseau, Minn.; Sledneck; and Monster Energy.

His initial big trip outside Alaska took him to North Dakota’s Bottineau State College where he combined studies with slipping across the border to skate for the Souris team. Since then, his success in sno-cross and freestyle races has led to personal appearances across North America and literally around the world.

"Among other places, I’ve been to Germany, Norway, Columbia, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand," said the 2005 Sno-Cross Rider of the Year. "New Zealand is my favourite – the countryside is phenomenal and the people are the nicest I’ve met."

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