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The Fundamentals of Ski Trail Grooming


Mon, Nov  20, 2006 - By Mike Muha

The Fundamentals of Ski Trail Grooming With Eric Anderson By Eric Anderson 2006, Snow Implements LLC / ABR Trails

Eric Anderson has pulled together a wealth of knowledge and practical application to produce a great DVD on trail grooming. Geared mainly to touring centers, the DVD also provides a wealth of information that can be used by the home groomer. Don't do any grooming? The DVD is still useful in understanding how grooming is as much an art as a science. It will also help you understand why trail groomers might use the snowmobile groomer when you think they should pull out the big Pisten Bully.

I finished this DVD and thought, "If the local park crews would only watch this DVD, we'd have a lot better skiing in southeast Michigan..."

Fundamentals of Grooming is divided into 8 grooming chapters that take up slightly over an hour on the DVD and a ninth chapter, about fice minutes long, enticing you to attend the annual ABR Midwest Grooming Clinic put on by Snow Implements on the ABR Trails in Ironwood, Michigan:

  • Chapter 1 Squeegie Grooming
  • Chapter 2 Two Pass Grooming With One Groomer
  • Chapter 3 Two Pass Grooming With Two Groomers
  • Chapter 4 Compacting, Leveling and Tracksetting
  • Chapter 5 Rolling & Compacting
  • Chapter 6 Trail Edge Grooming
  • Chapter 7 Pisten Bully Grooming
  • Chapter 8 Versatile Alternatives
  • Chapter 9 2006 ABR Grooming Clinic

The chapter titles don't even hint at all the topics actually covered. For example, Fundamentals of Grooming provides tips on how to get a snowmobile groomer around a sharp corner, up a steep hill, and down a steep hill while maximizing grooming quality. Eric provides suggestions for grooming steep hills that get a lot of snowplowing (which tends to push now off the trail), grooming to put snow back on the trail, and the weight he adds to the groomer and grooming equipment for different conditions.

This is not a classroom lecture DVD. Eric is on the trail, in the snow, demonstrating everything he talks about.

A variety of temperature and snow conditions are covered including early season snow in warm conditions, cold snow conditions, deep snow, and light snow over old hard pack. He also describes in several instances how he's grooming today and how he's likely to groom over the next several days as the snow and weather changes.

So what is "Squeegie Grooming" (Chapter 1)? It's grooming new snow over the old base. In the first example on the video, Eric describes the current trail conditions (old snow, thin base), the current and future weather, his choice of groomer, and how he's setup the grooming equipment.

Of course, grooming for both skating and classic skiing is covered, with a little extra time spent on classic - an area where more things can go wrong. For example, Eric spends quite a bit of time discussing the grooming of the pole plant area. Believe it or not, the pole plant discussion is fasinating!

Eric uses a wide variety of grooming equipment, from relatively inexpensive to the very expensive, including power tillers. He also using a wide variety propulsion systems, from relatively inexpensive snowmobiles to princely Pisten Bullys.

"That's not going to be a pleasant skiing experience"

Probably the greatest strength of this DVD is that it shows you what NOT to do. In every chapter, Eric purposely makes a grooming mistake to show the consequences and how it could have been done better. Clearly, he's trying to maximize the skier's happiness - he points out how the grooming defect is going to make skiing much less pleasurable than if the grooming had been done right.

I love one of his analogies: Grooming is like wet paint - do you walk on wet paint? Grooming often needs time to set before it's skiable. That means grooming before the skiers get out (Hey groomers out there: listen up!). It also means skiers should be sensitive to the timing of the grooming (Hey you skiers!).

There's really only one minor nit I have with the DVD. Occasionally Eric is hard to hear, either because of wind noise on the microphone, or because Eric turns his head to point something out and the directional microphone has a little trouble picking up his voice. You just have to listen closely occasionally.

I've only touched upon the many topics, hints, examples, and secrets explained on the DVD. You'll enjoy Eric's wry humor. Even more, you'll enjoy learning more than you thought possible on the fundamentals of cross country ski trail grooming.

Makes me want to attend next January's grooming clinic...

Part of a Series

Eric is plan on releasing a series of DVDs related to grooming. Forthcoming DVDs include:

  • Advanced Trail Grooming
  • Setting Your Snowmobile Up for Grooming
  • Trail Building

Stay tuned!

People can buy the DVD from ABR Trails at E5299 West Pioneer Road, Ironwood MI 49938, 906-932-3502. Phone calls and credit cards, postal mail and a check, or stop in the ski shop to purchase the DVD.