The Nordic Ski Club is one of the local groups who is hoping for snow and Larry Hennig is among those with his fingers crossed. Hennig is a Fort Saskatchewan resident who volunteers as a groomer for the club. He explains that until there is a 10 centimeter base on the trails, they won't be able to start their season. In order to get a 10 centimeter base, approximately 2-3 times that much would need to fall. The 3 inches Fort Saskatchewan had received has already been packed down, leaving about one inch to start the trail off.
The base is very important, as this sets the trail and allows the groomers to build it up through the year. If built properly, the trail will keep it's shape and guide the skiers. The Club has 14 volunteer groomers, who make their own schedule to provide grooming coverage. West River's Edge is groomed three times a week, while the other trails are groomed two times a week.
In a perfect world, the trails would receive a couple of inches at a time, allowing the groomers to pack the base appropriately. When the City receives a large dump of snow at once, the groomers have to go over the trail again and again until it is packed flat. The Club has 2 machines that groom, break up trails and pack in one pass, along with other implements that can be used. Trails are groomed to be either 4 or 5 meters wide.
While the groomers and the Club patiently wait on Mother Nature, the competitive skiers are currently completing their dry land training. This involves group activities, running hills and roller skiing.
Once the trails are ready to go, the Club can start with their lessons and activities. There are two types of skiing and both serve different weather conditions. Classic Skiing, or Track Skiing is perfect for conditions that are cold and dry. When it's warm or icy, skate skiing begins. Skate Skiing requires a different movement and wax application is done for quickness. When skiers are able to complete both techniques, it lengthens their season into the spring. The Nordic Ski Club groomers create one track off to the side, for the skaters to use.
The tree planting that Shell Canada completed this year provides many benefits for the club. The most important one is the fact that the trees mark the trails, which helps the skiers in white out and drifting conditions. The trees that were planted in West River's Edge were also strategically placed, keeping in mind the width of the grooming equipment.
The grant that the Club received this year from Dow Chemical went towards waxing equipment. Irons, tables, brushes and specialized equipment are needed for wax application, both at home and on the road for the competitive group.
The Club is always welcoming new members and volunteers. Anyone who wants to ski, regardless of skill or expertise can join. Lessons are available and equipment lease programs are an option, for both children and adults.
Learn more about the Club or check on trail updates here.