Sal Passantino, 23
North Bend, WA
Rides: Polaris AXYS 800 163
I jumped on a snowmobile at a friend’s cabin at an early age and have been in love with winter ever since. From Stampede Pass to eastern Washington, Mt. Baker and Canada, I have had the opportunity to ride some of the best backcountry.
I work for King County Search & rescue in the Regional Special Vehicle Unit division (RSVU) which allows me the opportunity to help people that are lost in the woods during the winter and summer seasons. I love the feeling of being in the backcountry when you challenge yourself against the mountain and push your skill to the next level.
It does not matter if you are a beginner or an experienced rider, anybody can have fun in this sport and pick it up at any time. Whenever I ride with a group, we always take the best and smartest safety precautions when it comes to avalanches and inclement riding weather. Mother Nature can change on you at any moment, so it is crucial to be prepared for anything. My experience in Search & Rescue has helped me adapt to changing environments, react quickly to dangerous situations, and work as a team in the backcountry.
This coming winter is supposed to be a good one. To all of those riding this year: be safe, plan ahead, be prepared, and have fun! See you on the mountain.
Richard Tillich, 32
Rides: 2018 CRF450R
Ever since I was 4 years old my Dad had me riding a dirt bike. I started out on a really old, metal tank Suzuki JR50; I rode it as much as possible. My dad saw how much I loved riding, so he took me to look at a Kawasaki KX60. It was a big upgrade and I was stoked. I rode that bike all the time and my dad started to take me racing. I wasn't the fastest rider out there but I was having a blast. My favorite part was jumping; I liked being in the air showing off for the crowd. I raced for a couple years, but ever since I saw freestyle in person at Monster Jam, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
Time passed by and I got towards the end of high school, so it was time to work and start figuring life out. I got to a point where I needed a car for school and work, and I decided to sell my bike to get a car. Years flew by with no riding, but my dad gave me his ol' 2002 CRF450 and I finally got the fever back in me. I was instantly hooked again! I had a late start, but I've been pushing really hard to make
my freestyle dreams a reality. With the help of some friends, I built a competition freestyle course consisting of a 8' wood ramp, 75' gap to a 12' landing. It was as good as I could afford, built off of blueprints.
I'm currently riding a 2018 CRF450R freestyle bike, still pushing hard to live those crazy dreams.
HAYDEN SIMMONS, 17
Rides: 2019 KTM 300 XC
I started riding when I was 3 years old on a TTR-50. My parents got me into riding and I have loved it ever since. Currently I ride a KTM 300XC and a KTM 250SX. I have been racing the NMA Offroad and NORCS series for the last 10 years and worked my way up to the Open A class. I’ve also raced a handful of endurocross events. Over the last 2 seasons I have also raced the AMA West Hare Scrambles. They are all over the west coast from NorCal to Bellingham to Boise.
My favorite type of riding is trail riding. I’m part of the Puget Sound Enduro Riders, so I am spoiled with great riding right by my house. I used to love riding motocross the most, but as I’ve gotten older I have grown more fond of offroad.
What I love most about riding is the feeling of freedom it gives you. When I am on my bike I feel totally free in a space of no thinking. It is just me and the bike.
I have been on KTM's the majority of my time riding, and I have grown attached to the way they feel and how they handle. I have been racing for Fun Country Powersports for about a year now, and have gotten very lucky with the people I have been able to ride with over the years, and the people I now look up to because of it.