GUILFORD, Maine — The Guilford man called it an honor to represent his state and country, but it was actually he who brought the honor home to Maine and the United States.
Ryan Campbell, 31, who has worked as a snowplow operator for the Maine Department of Transportation for 10 years, won first place at the International Snowplow Championship at the XIII International Winter Road Congress held last week in Quebec City, making him the world’s champion.
Campbell and Joe Osgood, also of the Maine DOT and who finished in the top 10, were up against some of the best snowplow drivers from eight countries, including South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Andorra, Canada, France and Morocco, which has snow in certain parts of the country. More than 20 drivers entered the national competition.
“I was honored” to represent both the state and the country, Campbell said Monday. He said the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials had contacted the DOT and asked whether Maine would like to represent the country since it was so close to Canada. He and Osgood were selected to attend. They left Maine on Sunday, Feb. 7, and returned home last Thursday night, he said.
“Maine is fortunate to have some [of] the most dedicated and talented plow operators in the country,” Maine DOT Commissioner David Cole said in a statement. “The strong showing by both Ryan and Joe confirms that we have some of the best snowfighters in the world.”
Campbell, who works from the DOT’s Charleston Maintenance Facility, and Osgood, from the DOT’s Topsfield Maintenance Facility, represented the United States in the competition, and their expenses were paid by the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, according to Campbell.
Contestants were asked to simulate performing snow removal duties using the front blade and the side wing of a one-way plow on a circuit approximately 300 meters long, according to a DOT press release. They had to maneuver a winged plow truck through and around barrels, parked cars, narrow roads, a barrel slalom course in both forward and reverse, reverse to a barrier and stop on a line in a narrowing alley. Contestants also had to inspect their vehicles for safety standards before starting, and were timed on the 300-meter course. Contestants were scored on each part of the course.
The competitors used Quebec’s snowplow trucks, and they had 20 minutes to look the trucks over before the competition, Campbell said.
“Their equipment was a lot different than ours. I mean, everything is generally the same, but their operating systems [are] totally different,” he said. “They have a single joystick control, where we have five or six joysticks in our trucks.” In addition, the wings on the Canadian trucks are a lot longer and the plows are a lot bigger, he said.
When they weren’t competing, the participants were able to enjoy Winter Carnival, according to Campbell. He and Osgood met four Canadians who entered the competition and who spoke English. Campbell said they became fast friends. Getting acquainted with the other contestants was somewhat difficult, he said. “The lan-guage barrier was kind of difficult to get through because not everybody spoke English,” Campbell said.
While Campbell said he had visited Canada before, he had never gone to Quebec City. He called it a lifetime experience. “It was well worth it; it was beautiful up there,” he said.