Friday, May 1, 2009

Flurries awards: grooming of the year

This one is too easy. Is there any question? First a few comments on trail systems with good grooming (which did not win):

1. City of Lakes. Who else grooms 35k including snowmaking and lakes, and shovels to make sure of a major race? No one, that's who.
2. Elm Creek. Mastery of the manmade.
3. Battle Creek. Since volunteers took over a few years ago, Battle Creek has gone from a mess, with hit-or-miss conditions even when the base was thick, to a well-groomed trail with consistently great conditions and grooming.
4. Terrace Oaks. Terrace Oaks somehow holds snow better than anyone, and is always groomed promptly and well after snow, although touchups sometimes are needed.
5. Murphy Hanrahan. Murphy has done quite well grooming even when there isn't feet of base.

But the winner is, of course, Woodland Trails in Elk River. Hands down. It cemented it's position--and it was already way ahead of the field--in March, when Elk River had fantastic skiing on March 14 when everyone else was melted out. But, I can not say enough good things about Woodland. (Seriously, check out my reports for them.)

Where else do the groomers refer to themselves as "Slaves"? Where else do they groom every time they need to and never when they don't? Who else takes as good care of their trail, year-round? No one, that's who.

And then there's their grooming equipment. A lot of ski trails invest oodles of money in the latest and greatest grooming equipment, with a new piece coming in every year. I have nothing against that, but am consistently amazed what Woodlands can do with two snomobiles, some lengths of culvert and screens with the ends pointed down. Seriously, with $500 of non-snowmobile equipment, they have the best conditions around. I think it goes to show that sweat equity beats dollars, hands down, every time. From the meticulously grassy trails to the constant care, Woodlands has the best grooming in the Cities. By far.

The trail slaves deserve this award more than anyone else deserves theirs.

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