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Racer learns balance isn’t only needed on the track

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One would think someone with the wealth of racing experience local oval sledder Steve Arpin has garnered at the age of 18, he would have nothing but aspirations of becoming a world-class pro.

Think again.

Even after a dizzying array of weekend races on the World Snowmobiling Association circuit, the grade 12 student still must settle down with the rest of his classmates at Fort High on a Monday morning and keep up to date with his courses.

“It can be hard to keep up. Most times I come back and have a test the next day,” remarked Arpin.

“It’s part of balancing sports and school.”

As much as he loves racing--a sport he grew up with as the son of long-time racer Chuck Arpin, who also is the owner of Pinewood Sports and Marine here--Steve knows the ovals aren’t his bread and butter.

Things were made more clear after he crashed his sled into the wall on Jan. 18 in Eagle River, Wis., and suffered a lingering back injury.

“I can’t rely on racing for a living. If you do it right, maybe,” he said. “But all it takes is one mistake and you may not walk for rest of your life.

“So yeah, I do want to keep on going with school.”

Arpin said he’s received a lot of help from FFHS principal Ian Simpson and his various teachers to comprise his weekend getaways, including taking some of his books with him for those six to seven hour-long drives to his competition.

“The school has been great about it. Everything they can do to help me, they do,” he said.

Last week, Arpin finished his first full year as a pro sledder this season in the top five of the WSA circuit points race. It was his first season with the local Pinewood Sports and Marine crew as he raced with Wahl’s Brothers out of Greenbush, Mn., last year as a semi-pro.

From checkered flags to crashes, blown motors to podium poses, Arpin said the whole season was a valuable learning experience.

“It went fairly well. Week to week, we’re on our own and learning. We’re fairly happy,” he said.

And as spring rears its head, Arpin and the sport of racing will not part ways. He’ll race occasionally in the modified class in the weekly Borderland Racing Association’s circuit at the Emo Speedway, which begins in May.

Despite entering the Borderland circuit winning two of the last three overall points races, Arpin is looking to travel a little more and get a taste of other circuits.

“I don’t think I’ll be racing in Emo to win the points title this summer,” said Arpin. “I’d like to jump around other tracks. You learn more that way. Every track, you learn more.”

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