Nordic skiers worried about the trend of lower snowfall and warmer temps shortening their ski season can finally put their fears to rest. At least if they live or vacation in Park City, Utah. Jans has partnered with a local company to bring a new piece of grooming equipment to the White Pine Nordic Center that excels in low snow conditions. The result is a longer and more consistent cross country ski season for classic and skate skiers alike.
If you’re anything like me, this news brings a welcome sigh of relief. Unlike ski resorts that have the advantage of making snow, the White Pine Nordic track is pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature. And in recent years she has been somewhat fickle in gracing the Wasatch Mountains with a consistent dusting of the white stuff. Read on to see exactly what our new Nordic Director, Patrick Coffey and the guys at LiteTrax have cooked up to give Mother Nature a run for her money this year.
The Old Style of Nordic Grooming
In the past, the White Pine Nordic Center has relied on the big kahuna of our line of grooming equipment, the Bombardier BR180, to create over 20 kilometers of skate and classic track. Affectionately referred to as the Bombi, this machine works best to crush two feet of powder into submission or to get the track well packed and firm, but is too heavy for use in low snow conditions.
By default, the Nordic Center groomers had to use a snowmobile when the snow was sparse, at the beginning or end of the season. While snowmobiles are still widely used to groom out Nordic ski tracks, they are not ideal. “Snowmobiles are not intended for grooming,” says Patrick. “Instead they should be used for emergency situations, to patrol the track or to fix the track.”
New & Improved Nordic Grooming
Enter the LiteTrax 1100 d4, a closed cab piece of grooming equipment made in Salt Lake City, Utah and originally designed to transport people to homes or cabins in remote areas. In its first commercial grooming application, the LiteTrax 1100 will be the White Pine Nordic Center’s groomer of choice in low snow conditions. Thanks to rubber tracks with 1 ¼ inch depth, compared to traditional snowcats on a metal track system with 2 ½ inch depth, the LiteTrax 1100 is a lightweight grooming option that is ideal for limited amounts of snowfall. Additionally, this machine boasts a very low psi to make the track surface more consistent, so that those who purchase track passes at the White Pine Nordic Center have a more enjoyable Nordic skiing experience.
According to Patrick, who groomed at Bohart Ranch in Montana before becoming a biathlon coach, “LiteTrax tested the 1100 Series in Lake Tahoe last winter and the machine was able to pull 4,000 pounds at 10,000 vertical feet. It’s a hog!” To put that in perspective, the LiteTrax 1100 d4 only needs to pull an 800 pound Tidd Tech G2 which lays down the grooming surface at the Nordic Center.
A Piece of Grooming Equipment Just for Us
The folks at LiteTrax even created a custom machine for Jans and White Pine including a 4 way blade in the front that can level the track if it gets windblown. They also included a modified lighting and wiper system that is more of a commercial grade to work in heavier snow conditions. After all, we do have to hold out hope for some bigger and better storms this year.
“The LiteTrax will be most beneficial to the 3K and 5K in the early season since we don’t need nearly as much snow to roll those out,” says Patrick, “But as we get more snow, I can see it trading out hours with the bigger machine.” And with opening day fast approaching on November 21st, Nordies are waiting with baited breath for that first big snowfall that signals the beginning of the cross country ski season. As for me, I’ll be keeping my eye out for the LiteTrax 1100 methodically working its way around the track.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor