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Heidelberg snowcross racer gets to show his stuff close to home

Taylor Stewart will have plenty of people cheering him on in Kitchener this weekend. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

After a successful snowcross season last year that saw him win first place in sport 1 and second in sport 2, local racer Taylor Stewart’s prowess got him bumped up to the much more competitive pro-lite division for London Recreational Racing.

Hailing from Heidelberg, the EDSS grad practices at private tracks in Ontario to prepare for the upcoming Rockstar Energy National Snowcross races to be held at Chicopee Ski Resort in Kitchener this weekend.

“It’s always exciting racing at Chicopee in front of my hometown because my whole family and lots of friends come out to watch and support me,” said Stewart.

Having competed at Chicopee plenty of times before, Stewart has some idea of what to expect – but now at a pro-lite level, he predicts the competition to be much more fierce than the last season in the sport division.

“Pro-Lite essentially means the riders I’m all competing against are really, really good,” said Stewart. “Compared to last year, there’s a lot of fast racers, but there wasn’t as much depth, whereas everyone this year that I race against is fast enough to win. So it’s a lot more competitive.”

The Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (CRSA) is divided into several divisions for competitors based on age and skill level. The trail division is designed for first-year racers, sport for racers with experience, then pro-lite to pro. This is just Stewart’s second full season, showing a rapid skill progression – he went from trail, to sport, to now pro-lite in short order. He also was offered a spot on the Ski-Doo X team, who also sponsored him with a sled this season.

Stewart’s coach, Mike Schmidt, is confident that Stewart has what it takes to win.

“He’s got the will, the desire, the effort, the want,” said Schmidt. “Those are all the key items that make for a good racer.”

Stewart said he maintains a positive attitude no matter what the results.

“Whenever I don’t do well, I try to keep my head up and take it one race at a time.”

The CRSA snowcross racing seasons run from October through April. Stewart has competed in various events all across the province, including races in Timmins, Lindsey, Barrie, Sault Ste. Marie, and even out-of-province in Quebec.

His interest in the sport sparked at a young age, when he first participated in recreational snowmobiling with his family. From there, he watched a snowmobile race with his dad at Chicopee, and knew immediately he needed to try it for himself.

“A local pro racer at the time named Christian Huber lent me a snowmobile for the weekend to try it out, and ever since then I was hooked,” said Stewart. “After that, I bought the sled and a family friend Don helped me go racing for a few races they next year, and at that point, there was no turning back.”

Stewart looked to keep skyrocketing his game, and eventually turn his passion into a professional career. In between snowmobiling seasons, Stewart does competitive wakeboarding in the summer – a water sport that requires balance and a high fitness level. In 2018, he competed in the Canadian Wakeboard National Championship where he ranked third in the Men’s Professional Heat #3.

Plenty of athletic ability will be on display this weekend – Schmidt encouraged everyone to come out for the Chicopee competition event.

“We look forward to it – family, friends, staff, everybody is close,” said Schmidt. “It’s easy to get to. It’s not hours away, so it’s perfect. The weather is supposed to be nice and warm on the weekend, so if you’ve ever thought about coming out to see a snowcross race, this would probably be your best opportunity.”

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