Clear Lake, MN (December 19, 2023) – Elias Ishoel overcame a serious off-season knee injury to power his way through the opening rounds of the 2023 national snowcross season. Ishoel finished on the Pro podium both days, winning Sunday’s final to leave Fargo, ND with the championship point lead.
On Saturday, Elias qualified 2-2 and quickly made his way to second place in the final where he gradually closed the gap on race leader Kody Kamm. Having only been on a snowmobile for a couple of weeks leading up to the season opener, Ishoel was patient and cautious in his approach. As the laps wore down Ishoel had to remind himself that catching the leader and passing him were two different things and that not taking an uncalculated risk would pay off long term.
Despite being physically and emotionally drained at the end of the grueling 11 lap race, the resulting second place finish, combined with his consistent heat race results, gave Elias the overall point lead after the first day of competition. A win by any measure given the severity of his knee and hamstring injury just a few months earlier.
Sunday brought a renewed source of energy for the four-time and defending Champion. Ishoel dominated qualifying from the green flag going 1-1 and went into the main event with a much less reserved mindset. Friday night winner Kamm paced the field early but Ishoel quickly moved into the runner-up spot and started to chase him down. With just over one lap to go, Ishoel moved under Kamm at the far corner of the large Fargo track and slid by untouched before pulling away at the checkers.
“The season has started so much better than I could have dreamed. The pre-season, everything. When I was back home I was just sitting and waiting and I couldn’t do anything. That was the worst time I have ever had in my life. Saturday I just had to settle down for that second place finish, Kody was running really fast. But Sunday when I got up to him in second place I felt good and felt I had a couple of good lines on him and I wanted that first place.
Yeah, I’m out of words, I’m just so happy. Two months ago I was thinking I’m never coming back and just one month ago I was thinking I’m just going to do starts in Fargo. So to go out with the red plates the first day and now the second day, I’m super happy. Thanks to the whole team and everyone who helps out.“
New full-time team member Crayden Dillon took inspiration from Ishoel’s performance and nearly swept the entire weekend in the Sport class. Dillon won three out of four heat races and then made a last lap pass in Sunday’s main event to secure his second overall victory of the young season.
In the Pro Lite ranks, Marcus Ogemar overcame an issue in his second heat on Saturday, which forced him into a back-row starting position in the final where he advanced nine spots to finish an admirable eighth place. On Sunday Marcus was back to form going 2-2 in qualifying and once again charging forward in the final to finish just off the podium in fourth.
Emeric Legendre made his debut in the Pro Lite class after sitting out much of last season with an injury. Like Ogemar, Legendre was able to score a heat race win during the weekend and turned in solid rookie performances both days racing to seventh and eighth place main event finishes among a strong field of veteran Lites competitors.