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Young Racers Shine at Fourth Annual Nome Youth 120 & 200 Snowmachine Race

A child wearing warm clothing and protective gear rides a snowmachine across an icy trail.
A young competitor at the fourth annual Nome Youth 120 & 200 Snowmachine race leans into a turn around the freshly plowed track canvassing the small boat harbor in Nome. Janice Homekingkeo photo.

March 19, 2024

Sarah Swartz, News Reporter

Over 150 residents and motorsport fans scaled the railing near the small boat harbor in Nome Sunday to get a good view of racers competing in the fourth annual Nome Youth Racing 120 & 200 Snowmachine Race. With a high temperature of 5 degrees and low winds, the conditions were just right for the eager group of young snowmachine racers.

Soon after 1 p.m. the first heats began as competitors raced in laps across a freshly plowed track that canvassed the frozen harbor. Each racer was required to wear a helmet, chest plates, and a bib. Pre-race safety checks were completed by staff from Norton Sound Health Corporation’s CAMP department.

Parents looked on with wide grins as their children took the course. Beverages and snacks were provided as well as a warming tent and wood fire pit to warm up frosty hands.

Mariah Morgan, race co-organizer, first discussed creating the race with fellow parents on Facebook in 2020 but put plans on hold due to COVID-19. The discussion later resumed and Morgan moved forward with organizing the inaugural Nome Youth Racing 120 & 200 Snowmachine Race in 2021. The race, then held next to the Nome Recreation Center, came together with help from a variety of people and organizations that provided prizes, ideas on building the track, and supplies. Morgan believes the race is a great opportunity for young snowmachiners to compete in a safe environment.

“We wanted to provide an outlet for kids who are interested in motorsports to participate in an organized race, and to expose them to safe practices such as always wearing a helmet and wearing proper gear.” Morgan said. “I would have loved to do this as a kid, so that was a big motivating factor for me in being involved.”

Nome resident Mary Ruud-Pomrenke enjoyed the sunny weather at the family-friendly event with her husband and son. 

“It’s a beautiful day to take the family out and see the races.” Ruud-Pomrenke said. “I am hoping my son will see the older kids on their snow machines and get excited to race one day.”

11 year old Jesse Rowe was surprised to take home the first place trophy in the 200 Class. 

“I didn’t think I was going to get it [first place] because my friend was here this year.” Rowe said. “He’s a really good racer and we practiced a little bit with each other and he was right next to me, but I pulled it off.”

Rowe plans on entering the Cannonball Youth Race when he turns 13 and has his sights set on other big races like the Iron Dog. His uncle, Mike Morgan, previously won the adult snow machine competition in 2018 and 2019.

Seven year old Dawson Haugen took home third place in the 200 Class Heat D. His mother, Season Haugen, relished in the joy her son felt as he navigated the icy course. 

“When I saw him take that jump, I could tell he was having a blast. He loves riding, and I think this kids’ race makes them look forward to something because the attention is all on them.” Haugen said. 


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