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Cortland/Ithaca

A fresh start for snowmobiling after rough winter

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: A fresh start for snowmobiling after rough winter
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While many people aren't thrilled to be clearing their driveways or traveling on now-covered roads, there are some who are happy about the onslaught of winter. As Andrew Sorensen tells us, thousands of snowmobilers are hoping the fresh snow can bring a fresh start to the sport.

WESTMORELAND, N.Y. — It might be a pain for some, but for others, Thursday's dump is pure gold.

"After last year's episode with no snow, there's going to be a lot of us out here today just taking advantage of the trails and hopefully winter is here to stay for a few months," snowmobiler Ryan O'Grady said.

O'Grady is the first snowmobiler out here, because he's one of the few who put his chips on white and got his registration renewed.

"There's a lot of people holding off this year to renew them. A couple of my buddies are actually at the DMV that are going to be meeting me, because they waited," he said.

But now that it's here, they apparently felt assured their money wouldn't be wasted.

"You're talking 100 dollars to register a snowmobile plus insurance – it takes a lot," O'Grady explained.

And with an actual good amount of snow in forecast, that turned out to be a pretty popular move. The New York State Snowmobiling Association says more than 1000 people signed up to get their registrations on Wednesday alone, and there are a lot of people out there counting on that to keep up.

EZ Riders Snowmobiling Club Membership Chairman Bill Shanley said, "From last year to this year, we've seen probably a 40 percent decrease in membership."

Shanley said they've seen a big boost with snow on the way, too.

Clubs like the EZ Riders depend on membership numbers and registrations to get grants from the NYSSA to maintain trails.

If fewer people register, less money goes out.

"It definitely makes us hopeful," he said of the renewed memberships. "The way the past two seasons have hit us with the economy and hit us with the snowmobiling, it's definitely seen a decrease."

While snowmobilers are all happy the season is starting, Shanley said if memberships don't pick up significantly, they'll have less funds to keep up trails next year, and that means less fun for everyone. But if the snow keeps building up, so will people's confidence in buying in.

The New York State Snowmobilers Association is also reminding people that snow on the ground doesn't mean trails are open.

Trails are only rideable when the managing club clears them to be open for the season.

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