Rising snowmobile star killed in northern Minnesota crash

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A Forest Lake, Minnesota man said to be an “up-and-comer” in the sport of cross country snowmobile racing was killed Friday in a snowmobile accident.

Hunter Houle, 18, was warming up for a series of races on Pine Lake Friday when his machine was involved in a single vehicle crash.

According to event organizers, Houle was found by another rider unconscious on the practice course. There were no witnesses to the crash.

“Hunter was a very talented driver. He didn’t fight the machine, he rode with the machine,” said Brian Nelson, owner of the United States X-Country Snowmobile Racing, the organization hosting the weekend event.  “He had ability like all good racers to read the course. He would race the race course instead of racing the other machines.”

Houle was the son of snowmobile hall of famer Steve Houle.

“Hunter started wearing a race helmet at the age of two,” Steve Houle told Fox 9 via email. “He insisted that he wear it to bed at night and we would have to wait until he fell asleep to take it off.”

According to his parents, Hunter started competing at age 13. His father said there was nothing he loved more than racing.

“It’s in his genes. He has the same desire and motivation as his dad,” said Nelson. “It was like watching a young Steve Houle out there.”

According to his parents, he won almost 20 races in his four years of racing and was the season points champion for USXC four times. In 2015, he was voted USXC’s junior class driver of the year. 

“Everybody liked Hunter,” said Nelson. “It’s extremely unfortunate.”