Growing up in the vast, wide-open province of Newfoundland, Bruce Russell developed a strong bond with Yamaha, beginning with his first snowmobile, a 1982 XL340. A little over a decade later, he upgraded to a '94 Phazer, followed by a Mountain Viper 700. For many summers Russell enjoyed riding his Yamaha Warrior sport ATV and later a Grizzly 660, and his family's cottage is powered by a Yamaha generator. It was Yamaha's reliability that kept him coming back. Now he rides the 4-stroke Apex.
Snowmobiling in "New-found-land"
Bruce Russell began snowmobiling in 1982, riding Yamaha 2-strokes like this from the beginning
In people and in places, Canada is blessed with great diversity. Provinces like Ontario and Quebec offer deep, beautiful forests, dotted with sparkling blue lakes, while Western Canada is a mix of rich farmland and incredible mountain ranges. As for the Atlantic province of Newfoundland, much of the land is tender, barren and wide open. It's this openness that makes it unique and gives it its nickname, "The Rock." With plenty of snowfall in winter, this makes Newfoundland ideal snowmobile country.
Here, Bruce Russel began snowmobiling in 1982 with a Yamaha XL340 as his first snowmobile. A little over a decade later, he upgraded to a '94 Phazer, and that was followed later by a Mountain Viper 700. It was the reliability of these machines that kept him buying Yamaha.
About snowmobiling in Newfoundland, Russell says, "I can ride for 200 km and not cross a single (asphalt) road. It's so open, with a Yamaha snowmobile and its reliability, you can discover and experience new places in the wildness. It really is a 'New-found-land.'"
The switch to a 4-stroke
It was the Apex that brought Russell back to Yamaha sleds. The Apex with power steering and other new features helps Russell enjoy the snowmobiling life even more
Sadly, however, when Yamaha started focusing on 4-stroke snowmobiles, Russell opted for a competitor's 2-stroke model instead. "It scared me on my first ride (of a Yamaha 4-stroke)," remembers Russell. "It felt heavy and it was such a drastic change. I knew it would be a few years before everybody jumped on the bandwagon. It took a little while before I could jump on one and say, 'Wow, this is what I wanted!'"
In the fall of 2010, Russell's wish was granted, and finally after seven years riding a competitor's 2-stroke, Bruce Russell returned to the Yamaha brand.
"I really wanted to come back to Yamaha sleds, and [the Apex with] EPS gave me what I was looking for," says Russell. "The longer track and the new seat height were major factors for me as well. There are so many things that I loved when I sat on this sled; the quality, the fit and finish, the sound-that EXUP exhaust is too much [laughs]. I couldn't refuse; I had to own it."
Riding a trailblazer
Playing in the mountains with friends is one of the great joys of snowmobiling for Bruce Russell
Russell had planned to use his Apex mostly for riding on groomed trails. Ironically, this would be the type of riding he and his Apex would spend the least amount of time on. Due to extreme snowfall in Newfoundland in early January, Russell had no choice but to ride on deep powder. Would his 4-stroke Apex sled stay afloat? "There was so much snow that even the trail groomers couldn't run in it!" says Russell. "We had waist deep powder and I was thinking, 'Oh no. I have got this big, heavy sled and I'm going to sink like a lawn dart!'" Russell's insecurity evaporated quickly after grabbing a handful of throttle. "The bottom end torque is outstanding and it never failed me. This thing jumps up out of the snow and stays on top! To be able to get to my cabin, with three to four feet of snow on the ground, it's priceless to me. I was breaking trails like I was on a VK!"
The joys of snowmobile trips
Friends gather for a day of trail riding in fine weather
Whether it's a late night ride on fresh, groomed trails, playing in the mountains with friends or an off-trail adventure, it is the simple things, like a long ride with good friends that Russell enjoys most.
"oh, I have lots of stories to tell," he begins. "For instance, last week some buddies and I went on a big 180 km ride. There was a new Phazer, a 1990 Phazer long-track with 38,000 kms on it, and two Artic Cats were with us. The day was perfect, the sun was out and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We stopped along the way and had a big BBQ. When you can sit out in the woods, in the middle of March and it's 10 to 15 degrees C. out, and you have a BBQ going, with guys telling stories from back in the days before groomers, before power steering, it's a good time. That's a perfect day for me."
About Yamaha quality
No matter how deep the snow gets, Bruce knows his Apex will get him and his family home
Long rides like this bring us back to the reason why Russell fell in love with Yamaha in the first place: reliability. He also likes the Apex's Power Steering, EXUP and new seat height. But all this aside, Russell acknowledges that Yamaha's quality is something you can't find just anywhere. Speaking about Yamaha quality, he says, "They overdo everything. Yamaha doesn't stop at light weight; they want to make sure everything is done right. If anything, they are over-engineered!” he adds with a laugh. “I enjoy putting my leg over that Apex, knowing my family and I are going to get home safely and without worry."
The riding location
One of four provinces along the coast of Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland is comprised of two main parts: the island of Newfoundland and mainland of Labrador, which is northwest of the island. Bruce's hometown of Cornerbook is on the west side of Newfoundland. Snow begins falling around November and lasts well into April, with peak months seeing up to 120cm of snowfall! The heavy snowfall and the many vast, open and inhabited areas offer Russell and other Newfoundland riders a freedom unlike Canada's other 12 provinces and territories.
Rider Profile: Bruce Russell
Bruce Russell of Cornerbrook, Newfoundland began riding snowmobiles in the early '80s. His first sled was a 1982 Yamaha XL340 and later he changed to Phazer in 1994. Since then, Bruce has owned a variety of machines, but he's now the happy owner of a 2011 Apex X-TX. A diverse snowmobiler, Bruce enjoys racing across the open spaces of Newfoundland, hitting trail systems with friends and he's never afraid to climb to new heights in the mountains. He uses his Apex for utility purposes as well, helping to get his family to and from their cottage safely and reliably.