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Jackson Hole, WY News

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New groomer takes Trail Creek to next level

Machine creates better tracks for Ski Club’s Nordic skiers.

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Groomer

The Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club is celebrating a top-of-the-line snow grooming machine that is saving the club time and energy while keeping the tracks at its Trail Creek Ranch training facility ready for competition.

The club raised enough funds to purchase the brand-new Prinoth Husky groomer over the summer and has wasted no time in putting the beast to the test.

In the days following Christmas, the valley was hit with heavy snowfall just in time for the 2021 Betty Woolsey Classic, a Dec. 26 community race that kicked off the season. Racers got a sneak peek at what the machine has to offer, and the response from community members and program alumni was nothing but spectacular.

Racers noted the quality of the tracks, given the amount of snow the valley had received throughout the night before, which was enough to close Teton Pass earlier that morning.

Groomer

Steve Swan grooms trails at the Trail Creek Nordic Center in a brand-new Prinoth Husky paid for by the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club with a grant and a fundraising campaign. The high-tech groomer will enable Swan to get more done each day.

Steve Swan, the man behind the scenes who maintains the trails the Ski Club, was the first to say the club was ready to upgrade.

The previously used decade-old PistenBully Paana had been considered “unreliable for years.” The Husky, on the other hand, uses advanced and updated technology and releases far fewer pollutants, and it gives Swan the opportunity to get more done each day. He typically begins cranking at sunrise and goes until midday.

“A good analogy would be that the old groomer was kind of like a rotary dial phone; the new Husky is like doing VOIP voice and text on your computer,” said Swan, the longtime Ski Club groomer. “The number of buttons has tripled, and there is a high-tech color screen, compared to analog switches, lights and a tiny one-line digital display.”

The new groomer comes as Nordic enrollment at the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club continues to rise and opportunities and resources for student-athletes further expand.

Kicking off with a $25,000 grant from the Teton County School District Recreation District Board, the club went on to receive 20 additional contributions from private donors, all before reaching the public contribution stage. Once the community became involved, donations poured in from the valley’s passionate Nordic skiers, totaling more than $260,000 over a 16-month span. The funds were enough to cover not only the purchase of the machine but five years of expected maintenance costs as well.

The new groomer is nothing short of state of the art, something needed in a region that receives so much snowfall.

Groomer

Steve Swan grooms the trails at the Trail Creek Nordic Center. The Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club recently purchased a new Prinoth Husky groomer to maintain the trails.

Groomer

Swan weaves through the Trail Creek Nordic Center last Thursday morning.

“We probably get over 400 inches of snow per year, and so having a groomer that can handle that amount of snow was really important for us to have good skiing every day,” said Will Wicherski, the Ski Club’s Nordic program director.

A lot larger in size and heavy duty, the Husky will improve the firmness of Nordic trails at Trail Creek Ranch, saving energy for racers in the valley while also grooming a path nearly an entire meter wider than its predecessor.

“I’ve already noticed that it improves the quality of our training with the team immensely,” Wicherski said. With heavy snowfall “we’re still able to have high-quality training sessions instead of just having to wallow around in the powder.”

While appreciative of the fundraising efforts, neither Wicherski or Swan was surprised by the support the club received from the community.

“We’re trying to offer nationally competitive and world-class programming, and so having grooming that matches our coaching and our programming is pretty crucial,” Wicherski said.

Groomer

Steve Swan weaves through the Trail Creek Nordic Center last Thursday morning. “It’s all digital,” Swan said as he learns how to operate the new machine. The last machine was less technologically advanced so there is a learning curve, Swan said.

“The whole Nordic community came together and made it happen,” he said. “It’s really special to have a community that supports the club so much.”

Swan believes the addition further cements the program’s commitment to developing student-athletes as the club continues through the strength of high growth years of enrollment.

“I know there are a lot of great people who care about Nordic skiing, and I was confident that they would come through,” Swan said. “[JHSC director Ali Sehnert] and I have also been through a previous campaign in which our great community did not let us down. I can’t say thanks enough to Sehnert for being in charge and pulling this off.”

The groomer will once again be put to the test for competition on Feb. 11 as Trail Creek Nordic Center hosts its lone home race of the season.

Contact Will Aldrich at 732-7065 or sports@jhnewsandguide.com.

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