Milwaukee going mobile

With many Marquette students prepping for spring break in tropical locales, and the only snow on the ground in Milwaukee being of the dirty and disgusting variety, most people would consider the winter sports season closed.

And if anyone mentioned the possibility of a freestyle snowmobile event in March near the heart of the city, they'd be considered crazy.

But who needs snow and wide open spaces to snowmobile?

The riders participating in the Red Bull Fuel + Fury snowmobile event certainly don't, as they'll be competing on a 250-by-450 foot course of wood chips and dirt from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Old Pabst Brewery. Admission to the event, located at the corner of 8th Street and Juneau Avenue, is free, but fans are encouraged to arrive early due to limited seating. Gates open at 5 p.m.

Justin Hoyer, participating in the event for the second straight year, said he and the other riders are impressed with the course — which includes a 40-foot long rainbow rail, three jump ramps and a 57-foot jump gap over a school bus that can also be used as a rail — and that it should pleasantly surprise the fans in attendance.

"They're not going to believe this," Hoyer, 22, said. "It's never been in a setting like this — downtown, outside — and the course is just insane."

Hoyer, an Elsworth native, said the chance to perform in his home state means a lot to him because most of the FSX Freestyle Snocross tour events are held out West.

"I think it's really cool because I don't think we've had anything like this in our state before," he said. "And if this goes well I think we'll have more events here, back this way, like it should be."

Though the Red Bull Fuel + Fury event is an exhibition and will not count in the standings of the sport's governing body — the International Freestyle Snocross Association — only the sport's top riders participate in the invitation-only tournament. Twelve of the riders rank No. 1 through No. 12 in the IFSA's 2004 standings, and one rider — Jay Quinlan — became the first to complete a back flip in competition at last year's Red Bull Fuel + Fury in Jackson, Wyo.

Another of the event's 13 participants, Jimmy "Blaze" Fejes, said he expects Quinlan and himself to take advantage of the course layout to deliver some lengthy back flips.

Jay Quinlan and I have overshot some landings," he said. At the 2004 X-Games "I had a 65-foot gap and I landed in the flat, so I had to be landing at like 70, 75 feet. And I know Jay is right there, also."

Fejes said competing is made more fun due to the family-like atmosphere among the tour's riders.

"You'll see during these competitions that when a rider does an awesome trick the riders on the sidelines will be way louder than the fans in the stands."

However, Fejes said the show carries mass appeal.

"It's organized chaos," he said. "It's incredibly nuts and the stuff that you'll see will just blow your mind."