Chatting with Kris Kaltenbacher (2012 Season)
Who am I and how did my passion for sledding begin?
My name is Kris Kaltenbacher, I am 39 years old, I have been riding for about 25 years, and I live in Reno Nevada. I started riding in Alaska when I was a child; my parents bought a 1981 Polaris Indy Star. Most of my riding in those days was nothing special mostly used sleds for camping, and to get to and from school. Jumps, drops and tricks were nothing I ever even dreamed of on occasion my friends and I would water skip the rivers over flow or jump a small cornice but that was about it. My real passion came when I graduated from college and the sleds had changed dramatically. A week after graduating from college I bought a 1996 Polaris Ultra, the sleds had change so much since I was a child. I then moved onto a 2001 Polaris 800 Gen, then to a 2005 Polaris 800 RMK, then 2 Polaris 800’s and last into a new 2011 Pro. I started riding for Team Summit in 2007 which was my real start in the video industry thanks to Sierra Sport and Marine and HMK they were the ones that really had the confidence in me to get me to go for my dreams of being involved in films. The following year I got a call from Dan Gardner to ride with Boondockers, and in 2010 I got a guest appearance in Krazy Canadian Adventure Films.
Who introduced me into sledding?
Well as far as I can remember I never got introduced into sledding really my parents had a dog team in Alaska and they bought a sled, so I started to ride a little here and there and the passion as the years went on just took over. I found that being on a sled was so pure, you could be so alone, you could go anywhere you wanted, as fast as you wanted, and as far as the snow would take you. Nothing around you but pure % nature and I loved that feeling. No laws to stand in your way. That was the most refreshing feeling….
Tell us about your early memories?
LOL the funny thing is my early memories don’t include some spectacular jump, back flip, death defining drop LOL they are memories of me and a couple of buddies pulling each other around on toboggan sleds, or racing across frozen tundra to see who could go the fastest on a sled. For fun we used to go camping on sleds, packing all our gear on the back and sledding into the mountains at a remote cabin in the woods and riding around in the woods with no purpose. Just three to four buddies out having fun, not caring who had the fastest sled, the coolest sled just pure fun. We used to play sled tag where you would try and lose your buddy in the trees and hide from them. Those are my fondest memories of sledding.
What lessons did you learn early?
Lessons learned were simple ones you don’t every stop on a small incline in deep snow always face down when you stop. Always check your belt before doing something you have no business doing LOL..When in doubt PIN IT never let off always pray for the best. Last don’t think about things you want to do give it a look and go for it believes in your ability and your sled if you think positive it will work out positive!!!
Now that you have kids-how are you introducing them?
I do have two boys Karson that is 9 and Kohen which is 6. I introduced them into sledding by just putting a helmet on them putting them on my sled and going out. I take them where ever I go I don’t hold back at all. I side hill, climb and even do some jumping with them. I figure they will not learn or know if you don’t show them so i go for it. Both boys have been scared at times but I just reassure them that I will never hurt them and they believe in me. We have climbed some amazing mountains and gone places that watchers have thought we would never make it. This last season both my boys started riding on their own. My youngest Kohen I think is a little more outgoing he seems to have no fear of getting hurt, as my oldest son Karson seems to be a little more careful of what he is doing. I tell them to try anything they are comfortable doing don’t worry about the sled if you are not crashing you are not trying.
What life lessons are you trying to instill in them?
Hmmmmm, this is a tough question because it scares me to think of the life things that can happen but, I tell them to always have a way out of a situation whether it is climbing, crossing a lake jumping or just riding down the trail. You never know what is going to happen and you don’t want to get caught up somewhere you don’t have a way out. So when we climb something I ask them what do we do if we are not going to make the climb what are our alternative routes, can we side hill out, can we come back down the same way we went up, do we stick it? I have told them to look at avy dangers, and always make sure we have the proper equipment. Making sure we have matches, extra gloves, socks, food, a fire starter, water, shovel, probe, beacon, and most of all make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be back so if you don’t show up someone has an idea where to look for you…
What type of rider do you want your kids to be?
I want my boys to love riding like I do go out enjoy and respect nature. Have fun riding sleds it can be an amazing way to enjoy nature and what it has to offer. Believe in yourself push your own self limits you don’t have to keep up with anyone else but push yourself every time you go out. I want to be the old man out on the snow with my two boys sitting there watching them as they push themselves and try to keep up with them…..
Sledding to me is where I find myself and lose myself, other than family there is nothing else in life I enjoy more. The sun rising over the fresh crystal snow as is sparkles from the sun, the smell of race fuel and sled oil mixed in the cold air, the sound of the snow crunching under your feet, and the rush that you get as you hit the throttle, this is what I hope that my two boys will find is sledding….
Kris Kaltenbacher AKA Smasher….
Note: This feature originally printed in the 2012 Season of Sledworthy Magazine but Kris is still 39 + a few years of experience…lol