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UPHILL CHAMP – Grady McNaughton poses for a photo following his win at the Silverstar Hillclimb in the 800 improved semi-pro division. Photo by MARY LYNN ELLINGSON

Watson Laker takes home gold from Silver Star Hillclimb

A Watson Lake snowmobiler is coming home with gold

By Whitehorse Star on April 19, 2017

A Watson Lake snowmobiler is coming home with gold after winning the Silver Star Hillclimb semi-pro 800 improved division at the Silverstar Ski Resort in B.C.

Grady McNaughton was almost four seconds faster in the final than the second-place finisher, clocking a time of 36.12 to clinch the win.

“I felt good,” he said from B.C. yesterday. “I felt accomplished. That’s what I came here to do.”

McNaughton, 27, qualified for the final in fourth place.

In the hill climb, participants race the clock as they navigate flag gates, jumps, corners and rollers.

“It gets super chewed up,” he said of the course.

In the winning race, McNaughton overshot the jump and bent his rails on the landing, finishing the final 200 yards of the race with the “track racheting like crazy.”

He also competed in two other classes: semi-pro 800 stock and semi-pro 800 modified. In both those races he finished fifth.

A born and bred Yukoner, McNaughton split his time growing up between Watson Lake and Dease Lake.

He was drawn towards “anything to do with engines.”

“It was just of a way of life in the Yukon,” he said.

He did downhill skiing and snowboarding, but switched to snowmobile racing “as soon as I was allowed.”

This season, McNaughton has been thankful for the support of Mary Lynn Ellingson, of Redneck Barbie Inc.

“Grady killed it,” Ellingson said. “I’m so proud of him.”

Having lived in the Yukon, Ellingson said she “just had to get my hands on him (McNaughton)” after seeing him race the event last year.

“Sledding is in our blood,” she said.

For McNaughton’s winning race, he said he didn’t have a race plan. He doesn’t look at his gauges.

“I just send it,” he said. “It’s just kind of built in.”

McKeehan Prysuk, also of the Yukon finished the event with a seventh, 12th and 13th-place finishes.

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