Fresh snow cheers Wisconsin snowmobile dealers

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Associated Press | December 16, 2013

MADISON — The fresh snow blanketing much of Wisconsin has snowmobile dealers in a sunny mood.

Wisconsin ranks second in the country in snowmobile registrations with 224,716, behind only Minnesota with 251,986 and ahead of Michigan's 205,808, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday, citing figures from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

"If it continues to snow and stay cold through January, we'll be out of inventory," said Robert Hintz, general manager at Engelhart Motorsports in Madison.

Despite some winters with little snow, limited riding days and the rising costs of high-end sleds, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says registrations have been relatively steady since the winter of 2001-02.

Wisconsin has 25,000 miles of trails, some of which are already open in Iron, Douglas, Sawyer and Vilas counties. Doug Johnson, president of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs, said others are likely to open this week.

Greg Cook at Trackside, a dealership in Eagle River, said one of the keys to growing the industry is to get more young people riding and involved with snowmobile clubs. Cook sells new entry- level snowmobiles for around $7,000 but most of the Ski-Doo, Polaris and Yamaha snowmobiles that go out the door cost more than $10,000.

"You have three months to enjoy your sport and people demand the best," Cook said. "Consumers look at snowmobiling differently than they do other things."

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