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Gull Lake Drifters host snowmobile safety training

The Gull Lake Drifters Snowmobile Club held a snowmobile safety training course Jan. 11 where eight youth earned safety certification. "Snowmobiling is a fun, family oriented sport, but it is also inherently dangerous," said certified safety trai...

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Gull Lake Drifters member Don Mork assists students with the riding performance part of the snowmobile safety program.Submitted Photo

The Gull Lake Drifters Snowmobile Club held a snowmobile safety training course Jan. 11 where eight youth earned safety certification.

“Snowmobiling is a fun, family oriented sport, but it is also inherently dangerous,” said certified safety training instructor Gary Thompson. “Over the past several years, the number of snowmobile accidents has dropped dramatically. Most attribute this to rider education and the safety training program.”

Youth ages 11-15 have two course options: ghe traditional course option, which requires eight hours minimum classroom training plus a rider performance course; or the CD-based option (used for this course), which  requires  a student to complete a CD program and then attend a one-day classroom review and riding performance course.

Students met at the Nisswa Community Center where DNR conservation officer Jim Guida explained snowmobile laws, signs and safe operating procedures.  

Thompson reviewed the CD course. A riding performance course was set up at the club’s groomer building where students were required to do a pre-ride inspection, ride a snowmobile and use proper hand signals.

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“Today, Minnesota law mandates that residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, must complete a Minnesota snowmobile safety training course to operate a snowmobile in Minnesota," Thompson said. "Anyone 16 and older is required to complete the snowmobile safety CD to receive their certificate but is not required to complete the riding performance course.”

Since 2013, the club has hosted four safety training classes resulting in 47 youth receiving their safety certificate. Bob Heidelberger, also a certified safety training instructor and Gull Lake Drifters member, has been part of the training team since last year. Seven other club members assisted with this session.  

The goal of all safety training classes is to give youth and young adults the tools to make them safe and responsible snowmobilers. Riders are encouraged to enjoy the sport (especially in the Brainerd lakes area) but must remember, “Ride with your head, not your thumb!”

The Gull Lake Drifters Snowmobile Club will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at the groomer shack by the roundabout/Paul Bunyan Trail in Nisswa (watch for signs).

Those who attend will receive lunch and a 2015 trail map. Learn how being a member of a snowmobile club is rewarding.

The Gull Lake Drifters maintain 122 miles of trails. For more information, contact Randy Avenson at 218-839-1092 or email gulllakedrifters@gmail.com . Visit www.brainerdlakesareasnowmobiletrails.com .


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Instructor Gary Thompson reviews the CD course with students.Submitted Photo

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