A fast sled, a late-race change of his front right carbide and a little bit of luck helped push Matt Goede of Mayer, Minn., and his No. 28 Formula III Ski-Doo to victory as the heralded ice oval driver was crowned champion of the 60th World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River Sunday afternoon.

A relatively uneventful race through the first 15 laps saw Goede take the early lead from the start as racers spaced themselves out across the half-mile ice oval. The track prior to the race was the hot topic as what had started the weekend as a smooth and fast oval of blue ice had turned to dirt in a number of areas after a weekend of hard race competition took its toll.

Goede said however it wasn't the track, but instead his inability to see due to a light mist which caused him to pull back off the throttle with under 10 to go, opening the door for four-time world champion Blaine Stephenson to take the lead with just over seven laps left in the race.

"There was a freezing rain or fog that I could wipe away at the beginning of the race, but then it started to freeze on my goggles," said Goede. "I didn't feel safe driving and it got worse when you'd get into lap traffic."

From there it seemed as if Stephenson was on the way to his fifth title when his teammate Tom Olson got tangled in turn four with Calvin Cook, spinning Olson to the track and bringing out the race's first and only red flag with two laps to go.

During the race break as track personnel attended to Olson's sled, some teams and drivers took the opportunity to add a carbide to their ski helping regain what they thought would be some front end handling for the final two laps.

Off that restart Goede though said he didn't need it as he shot to the first corner with the lead and never looked back, winning over Troy Dewald of Au Gres, Mich., while Stephenson settled for third.

"I'm thinking my track just held up better than the rest of the guys," said Goede about getting the late hole shot. "I try hard not to spin my track hard until Blaine passed me. I am assuming he didn't have any studs left."

As far as the carbide change, Goede said the plan from the start was no matter when the red came out he was changing his front right carbide on the machine.

"We had a carbide for that reason and I was putting it on no matter what," he said. "Evidently though the left carbide is just as important because even after changing the front right I had no steering. A lot of it too was the track. There just wasn't ice to dig anymore."

Celebrating after the race Goede said he appreciated being able to win what he said was the biggest race of his career so far.

"I would say this is the biggest race I've ever won," he said. "We've had success on just about everything we've been on and now we can say we're a world champion. It feels so good to say that."

With the change to Formula III two years ago, this was the first year Goede decided to give it a go on the bigger machine and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

"I actually really enjoy driving the F-III, and actually I almost prefer it over the Champ," he said after the race. "Especially after the way we ran Friday night. And maybe that just gives me a bad taste in my mouth because I didn't do well. It's just really fun to drive. It wasn't at first, but now it seems we've got it handling pretty good. I like having more power. And after driving a Champ and then hopping onto these it feels good to have the extra power there."

Goede thanked his team and had a special thanks to his family who he said this year more than ever helped him through getting ready for Eagle River.

"This year my older brother did a lot with this sled, especially to get it to handle as good as it does now," he said. "Everyone came in saying Ski-Doo wasn't going to be any good. But we showed them wrong. I think if this track would have held together we still had the fastest sled out there."

Dewald said after the race that he was elated to have even made the field for Sunday, so to finish with a podium finish in the runner-up spot was outstanding.

"We partied pretty hard last night just happy with the fact we made the big show," said Dewald. "We're just stoked. To be up on the box with a silver means we're really going to party tonight."

Coming into the race out of the enduro circuit, Dewald was excited that after last year he got the opportunity to make the switch.

"We sort've decided last summer that we were going to put a little more time into it, build and F-III and go for it," he said. "And we're pretty happy with how it turned out."

Stephenson, who ended the day in third, was frustrated following the race.

"The studs were just gone at the end there, we had no traction," he said. "It took everything I could do to just keep the sled straight off the restart. There just wasn't anything."

Stephenson was on his way to victory, having passed Goede and put almost half a straight away between himself and Goede when his teammate Tom Olson was bumped by Calvin Cook and spun out in turn four to bring out the caution.

"I was able to find it where we weren't too rough getting into one, but then (turn) three was the hardest one," said Stephenson. "There was a patch that everyone was running low but it was through the dirt. The problem with riding it high is you take that risk of turning it up into the bales like I did twice this weekend already. But I got to where I could sort've put it on rails and it really helped me put a dent into Matt's lead there."


Finish Start # Competitor Hometown +/-
1 1 28 Matt Goede Matt Goede Mayer, MN -
2 9 57 Zach Dewald Zach Dewald Au Gres, MI 7
3 2 102 Blaine Stephenson Blaine Stephenson Hutchinson, MN -1
4 12 312 Zach Herfindahl Zach Herfindahl Eagle River, WI 8
5 10 53 Colt Dellandrea Colt Dellandrea Sundridge, ON 5
6 6 22 Andy Shoemaker Andy Shoemaker Howell, MI -
7 7 297 Jay Mittelstaedt Jay Mittelstaedt Reedsburg, WI -
8 11 999 Mike Van Dolder Mike Van Dolder Ennismore, ON 3
9 4 75 Calvin Cook Calvin Cook Dayton, MN -5
10 5 39 Thomas Olson Thomas Olson Lodi, WI -5
11 8 220 Gunnar Sterne Gunnar Sterne West Chicago, IL -3
12 DNF 3 04 Luke Olson Luke Olson Ishpeming, MI -9