represented well at national
Idaho was somewhat of an anomaly at the 2007 Western Snow and Ice Conference held recently in Greeley, Colo. Neither of Idaho’s two representatives – Robin Freeman of District 3 and Mike Praegitzer of District 4 – has logged much seat time recently in a motor grader or front-end loader.
But both competed extremely well in the national “roadeo” competition for operating winter highway equipment. The duo combined to place second among 47 competitors in the Tandem Axle Snowplow Truck event behind a team from Delaware.
Freeman, a perennial challenger for one of Idaho’s two spots at the national event, recently was promoted to foreman of the Council/New Meadows maintenance sheds, and Praegitzer is a shop superintendent. Yet, they competed next to many drivers whose career is spent at the wheel of loaders and graders.
“It’s been a while since either individual has been in a motor grader,” explains Rex Hufford, who coordinates Idaho’s roadeo program and accompanies winners to Colorado.
Idaho’s representatives combined to finish 18th out of 43 teams entered in the single axle snowplow truck competition. The top three placers included teams from Breckenridge, Colo., Pueblo, Colo., and Portland, Maine.
In individual competition, Praegitzer finished seventh out of 41 contestants in motor grader while Freeman was 21st. Their positions were reversed in loader competition where Freeman was 13th and Praegitzer was 32nd.
“This loader course was especially difficult, very compact and tight for space in which it was set up,” Hufford said. “The person who won this event (a delegate from the City of Aspen, Colo.) in every aspect really earned it. I was very pleased to see that ITD placed in the top 50 percent of the competition.”
Although somewhat sheepish about his performance, Hufford competed in a special event – the Executive Cup – for management and office personnel who no longer operate equipment as a part of their work assignment. Hufford was second in the event that attracted 19 contestants. A representative of Pierce County (Tacoma, Wash., area) finished first.
The annual Western Snow & Ice Conference attracted more than 800 attendees from throughout the nation and is held in the shadows of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Before competing in the equipment events, individuals must take a written knowledge exam on motor graders, loaders and trucks. They also must complete a visual inspection of each group of equipment looking for four “planted” defects in four minutes. Scores from those non-operating events are added to the roadeo course scores.