Unlike everyday grooming on the Vasa Trail, grooming for events such as the North American Vasa or The Gran Travers Classic require following a strict schedule to avoid possible conflicts between the grooming equipment and racers on the course.
Dick and Jim started grooming at 7:00PM Friday night starting at the trailhead and grooming the 12K race course to Timber Ridge. We then groomed the Timber Ridge trails that were to be used on Saturday and headed the Headwaters to groom for the 27K race. The conditions were difficult to groom because of the lack of any new snow over a packed base and mild temperatures (30-31).
We were both in the LMC and while one of us was driving the other would adjust the track setter pressure, tiller speed, tiller pressure, and tiller depth to try to provide a consistent ski surface and Classic tracks. We also stopped to install caution tape at junctions where racers could possible make a wrong turn. We skipped Jack Pine Valley since Paul and Glen would pass through there after they groomed the 50K loop and arrived back at Timber Ridge at 1:00AM. At that time there was no new snow and only light flurries falling.
Paul and Glen took over in the LMC at Timber Ridge and headed out onto the 50K loop at 1:00AM. They were experiencing similar problems with grooming conditions and they took turns with one driving the LMC and the other watching the grooming results and making the necessary adjustments. They also needed to tape off intersections and put up a few signs. They groomed the 50K loop and set tracks on the 27K section where the 50K loop rejoins the Vasa Trail.
While they were on the 50K loop it starting snowing hard. The amount of snow slowed as they returned to the 27K Vasa Trail and most skiers probably noticed a difference in trail conditions at this point. While some may have thought that enough skiers had gone through and packed the trail it was more a factor of the snow diminishing after the groomer went through. The groomers then continued on toward Timber Ridge stopping at Perch Lake Rd. to go back to the 50K loop to groom the 10K loop for the Tour and Adaptive skiers.
On the 10K loop they experienced difficulty with the tiller clogging with snow that had not been packed or groomed before this time. They had to stop and dig and chisel the packed snow out of the tiller before they could continue. They returned to the 27K Vasa Trail at the Perch Lake Rd. intersection and finished grooming back to Timber Ridge arriving back there at 6:30AM (two hours before the start of the first race).
While it would have been nice to re-groom the trail after the fresh snow had fallen early morning there was simply not enough time. The LMC grooms at a maximum speed of 8 kilometers per hour, much slower than most skiers and it would have only been a matter of time before the first skiers caught up with the groomer.
It has come to our attention that someone made a pass with a snowmobile groomer on the 50K loop after Paul and Glen completed grooming that portion of the trail with the LMC. This was done without their knowledge or input even though they were both at Timber Ridge when this grooming took place.
Since Cross Country skiing take place outdoors and is subject to uncontrollable weather, skiers must learn to adapt to a variety of conditions. We as groomers can only try our best to provide excellent conditions but we have not been able to control the weather.
The TART Trails Grooming Crew
Paul Tata, Doug Scofield, Glen Rauth, Dick Naperala, Jim Dombrowski