Young to chair the 2010 Arctic Man race

When most people hear the words “Alaskan beauty queen,” “snow machine racing” and “politics” all in the same sentence, they think of Sarah and Todd Palin. But Rep. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungPension committee must deliver on retirement promise Our leaders must end the hate before they burn America down Alaska rep denies suggesting armed Jews could have prevented Holocaust MORE (R-Alaska) thinks about his upcoming weekend.

Young is the honorary chairman of the 2010 Arctic Man ski and snow machine race, and he’s getting ready to spend three days in April riding around on a SnowCat, crowning the winner of this year’s Miss Arctic Man competition and interacting with his constituents at one of the most extreme sporting events in North America.

Now in its 25th year, Arctic Man is a race that pairs a skier and a snow machine racer for what looks a lot like waterskiing in the snow. The skier races down a mountain, links up with a snow machine, the machine pulls the skier at speeds up to 80 miles per hour up a slope, and then the skier races down to a finish line. With no shortage of danger, little wonder it’s one of the most popular events all year in the rugged northernmost state. As Young’s spokeswoman said, “It’s sort of like NASCAR up north.”

Held high in the Hoodoo Mountains south of Fairbanks, the course is accessible to spectators only by snow machine. But that doesn’t stop more than 13,000 Alaskans from attending, making the race grounds, temporarily, the fifth largest “city” in the entire state.

The 76-year-old Young, an experienced snow machine driver, is staying in a cabin in the mountains near the racetrack for three days of outdoor competition that culminates in the Arctic Man race. For Young, the race combines “aggressive athleticism” with “backcountry moxie,” making it one of the most exciting events he’s ever seen.

Young won’t be the only Alaskan politician cheering on the racers: Todd Palin will race with his partner, four-time Arctic Man ski champ Peter Kakes. Sarah Palin is expected to be in the snowy stands.