Dave Guenther is either an innovative winter outdoorsman or his brain is simply frozen.
That's what a few folks in Pequot Lakes figure, anyway.
"People have said I've been out in the cold too long," said Guenther with a laugh. "It's my favorite time of the year. No mosquitoes, no humidity."
Guenther, the founder and president of the Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous held annually in Pequot Lakes for the past 10 years, has created a new winter competition -- the Power Ice Auger World Championships -- held for the first time last January.
The event, which involves competitively drilling fishing holes on a frozen lake, has taken off since its introduction during last January's Ice Fest, held on Pelican Lake at Breezy Point Resort.
The second annual ice auger world championships will take place at noon Saturday on Pelican Lake during Breezy Point's Ice Fest. Registration will start about 9 a.m. Saturday and participants must register before noon, Guenther said.
Last year's competition had three divisions: hand auger class, where only man or woman power is used to hand drill one hole with the fastest time; power stock auger class, where participants use a power ice auger as it was commercially built to drill three holes in the fastest time; and the modified auger class, where anglers modify a power ice auger and attempt to drill three holes as fast as they can. This year the hand auger competitors will need to drill two holes instead of one.
Participants in the modified and stock auger classes must start with one hand behind their backs and when the timer says "go," they start the ice augers and drill three consecutive holes and then must place the ice auger back on the ice to finish.
Saturday's competition has expanded to six classes, including a kid's hand auger competition for children ages 15 and younger. While the entry fee for all events is $10, the children's competition is free. Ice augers will be provided for the competition by StrikeMaster of Big Lake, one of the event sponsors.
Other divisions include separate men's and women's stock auger classes and an antique stock auger class.
Jim Spielman, Pequot Lakes, who created this modified ice auger that uses a chainsaw motor, won the modified auger class in the first Power Ice Auger World Championships held last January during Breezy Point's Ice Fest on Pelican Lake. Spielman drilled three holes in 11.5 seconds. (Dispatch File Photo)
Last year's modified auger champion was Jim Spielman, Pequot Lakes, who modified a power ice auger with a chain saw motor. Spielman drilled three holes in 11.5 seconds in 18-20 inches of ice to win first place in the division. First-, second- and third-place trophies will be awarded in each division and all participants are eligible to win door prizes, said Guenther.
Last January, Cyril Zieglmeier of Big Lake won the stock auger class for drilling three holes in 23.9 seconds. Shawn McElmury of Oak Grove won the hand auger class for drilling one hole by hand in 10.38 seconds.
Guenther said he came up with the idea for the ice auger competition two years ago after he had to drill more than 60 holes on Pelican Lake for fencing at a snowmobile radar run sponsored by the Pequot Brush Pilots, a snowmobile club where he serves as club president. It made him think about how he could time how long it took him to drill each hole. He mentioned an ice auger competition to friends and his students at Pequot Lakes High School, where he teaches art, and they thought it was a good idea.
A few students contacted ice auger companies about sponsorship and StrikeMaster in Big Lake offered to help sponsor the event, which is a fund-raiser for the Pequot Lakes Fire Department. On Ice Tour in Walker and D/Rock small engine shop are also sponsors of the ice auger competition.
Last year the competition brought 40 participants and about 500 spectators, along with several Twin Cities television crews, to Pelican Lake. Guenther said he's unsure how many participants will enter this year. Several people he knows have modified their ice augers but won't reveal their new creations until Saturday's competition, he said.
"Everybody's very secretive about what they're bringing," said Guenther. "It will be fun to see what does show up."
Anything goes on Saturday, as long as the modified ice auger is only operated by one person during the competition. One participant wanted to hook up a V-8 car engine to his ice auger.
"I always hear people bragging that their ice auger can go through the ice so quick," said Guenther, who decided a world championship ice auger event would be the best place for them to prove it. "It's a unique thing, it's a Minnesota thing. I don't know why anyone else hasn't come up with it."
Guenther said he recently learned that similar ice auger speed trials were held in the early 1980s, but he isn't sure where. Now ice auger competitions are sprouting up throughout Minnesota. Another is planned Jan. 31 in Crosslake, he said.
Guenther would like to see several ice auger competitions held throughout the winter and then eventually the competitions would become qualifying rounds for the world championships during Breezy Point's Ice Fest.
Guenther said the recent cold snap has meant there is now good drilling ice on Pelican Lake for Saturday's competition. He said there is about 20 inches of ice on the lake now.
Guenther said those who are interested in competing Saturday should go out, drill a few holes and ice fish.
"It's just a fun thing to do," he said. "It beats sitting in the house."
For more information, go to the Power Ice Auger World Championships Web site at www.powericeauger.org.
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