Sierra, 6, Greg and Chelsey Chartier have taken part every year. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

GALLERY: Vintage sleds on show at Elk Valley charity ride

Corbin Vintage Poker Derby raises funds for Fernie Snowmobile Association

Vintage sledding enthusiasts have dusted off their old machines for a charity ride near Sparwood.

The roar of old engines filled the ghost town of Corbin on Saturday, February 16 as dozens of snowmobiles hurtled along the freshly groomed trails for the Corbin Vintage Poker Derby.

The annual event raises funds for the Fernie Snowmobile Association (FSA), a primarily volunteer-run group that manages over 160km of groomed trails and three day-use cabins.

“We come to this one here every year, it’s a good day,” said Greg Chartier from Beaver Mines near Pincher Creek, Alberta.

Greg was joined with his wife Chelsey and six-year-old daughter Sierra, who has been riding sleds since before she could walk.

“This is a ’73 Elite, twin track, twin ski towing a ’63 skidoo. Hers (Sierra’s) is an ’86 or ’87 Kitty Cat,” said Greg.

“It gets us out,” added Chelsey. “Instead of playing games all day we come out and enjoy the mountains.”

Harvey French is another poker derby veteran and helped start the event.

Despite the cold, he and his wife Bernadette were dressed for the tropics with novelty shirts and Hawaiian leis.

“I’ve got too many (vintage sleds),” he laughed. “I’ve got a couple of Mercuries, ’70 and ’72 Mercuries, and I’ve got this Elite and this Blizzard too.”

Steve Mrakava ran the derby on behalf of the FSA and said about 45 people hit the trails in the first two hours.

“The money we raise goes towards building warm up shelters, maintaining the grooming equipment and keeping the trails accessible for all snowmobilers in the Fernie area,” he said.

Mrakava was expecting a few breakdowns on the 13km course with a Hard Luck award, as well as trophies for Little Ripper, Best Dressed and Best Vintage.

“I think next year we want to do another day event for larger, newer machines and do a bigger loop, and hopefully get more interest,” he said.


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