March 10, 2010
Roadbuilding and maintenance
International snowplow championship packs ‘em in
It’s a mid-winter competition that has attracted contestants from around the world to Canada this February. The Vancouver 2010 Olympics?
Nope, it’s the very first International Snowplow Championship staged in February alongside the 13th International Winter Road Congress (IWRC) in Quebec City.
The competition was designed to highlight the skills of public and private sector snowplow operators on a 250-metre circuit.
Participants were evaluated according to a scoring system based on performance and speed.
Challenges included mechanical inspections, driving around traffic cones and parked cars, a barrel slalom, use of snow removal equipment, driving forward and in reverse, and parking.
The competition was organized by Championship Director, Mario Bergeron and Jean-Sebastien Cloutier, exhibition co-ordinator for the Congress.
Bergeron said he was inspired by similar “roadeo” events held in Quebec and throughout North America, including the long-running National American Public Works Association Snowplow Roadeo Championship held in Colorado.
The competition inspired 20 entries from eight countries including Canada, the U.S., France, Andorra, South Korea, Sweden, Japan and even Morocco.
“Morocco has snow in the Atlas Mountains,” noted Bergeron.
The four snowplows used in the competition were 10-wheel International PayStar models provided by the Centre de gestion de l’équipement roulant of the ministère des Transports du Québec. The models chosen presented an additional challenge to some foreign contestants.
“Many of the snowplows used outside of North America are much smaller than our models,” explained Bergeron.
“The drivers had only one hour of practice to familiarize themselves with the truck before the competition began.”
Despite the fact that Quebec City has an ample supply of snow, the contest used sand in its place.
“Part of the competition involved operating the plow as close as possible to a traffic cone without touching it,” said Bergeron. “It’s much easier to judge the distance when we simulate snow with sand.”
The contestants were evaluated by 15 judges from the ministère des Transports du Québec and assisted by two observers from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
North American operators swept the competition with Ryan Campbell of the Maine Department of Transportation taking first place. Jean-Pierre Desrochers, a private contractor from Quebec, took second, while Alexander Goodine, an operator with the New Brunswick Department of Transportation, took third.
“We wanted to make a special mention of Ik-Soo Kim, the contestant from South Korea,” said Bergeron.
“Despite the fact that he had never driven a snowplow that large, he was able to finish within the top five.”
The Quebec IWRC represents the first time the event has been hosted in North America. Held every four years, the next Congress is scheduled for Andorra.
“One of the reasons that we encouraged Andorran drivers to compete was that we hoped to see another International Snowplow Championship to be organized and held there in 2014,” said Bergeron.
“The first competition received widespread attention, not only from the Congress delegates, but well beyond.
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