World Cup Strategy :: Update from Jeff Temple, Director of Mountain Ops
Posted by Jeff Temple on November 20, 2017
Oh good, it’s warm and raining… I never thought I would utter those words during the winter season, but I did say them on Sunday morning, following a night of temperatures in the 40s and steady rain. Although obviously not ideal weather for running a winter resort, on this particular morning I was happy to wake up to rain, rather than freezing precipitation that would have presented numerous operational difficulties for lifts, grooming and the Peak Lodge.
In this case, there was an added benefit from the unfrozen moisture—our World Cup training and race trails (Skyelark and Superstar) were scheduled to be “watered” later that morning, and the rain was helping the cause.
To give you a little backstory, the snow surface that World Cup ski racers prefer is probably a little different from the surface that you or I prefer. They like the trail surface hard—very hard. To get it that way, water is often added to, and sometimes injected into, the snow.
To facilitate the watering of the race venue, we had “opened up” the snow surfaces on Saturday afternoon—basically tracked the surface with grooming tractors and left them as rough and porous as possible so the rain would penetrate the snow rather than running off. The more saturated the snow, the harder the surface gets once all that water freezes.
With warm temperatures lingering into Sunday morning, four to seven person crews of race volunteers and officials marched down Superstar, each crew working three snowguns to spray water over the entire course, soaking the snow even more thoroughly than the rain had the night before. Immediately following the water application, and timed to coincide with the significant drop in temperatures starting around noon Sunday, grooming tractors returned to the course to till in the wet snow and smooth it out. The water has since frozen making the course significantly harder. Later in the week, a decision will be made by FIS to further “inject” the trail with even more water if needed; this is accomplished with long pipes and water jets. This injector pipe is walked down the trail with injections occuring every few feet or less over the entire length of the course.
And, of course, the dropping temperatures are not only good for making World Cup race courses—they’re good for making snow too. Snowmaking is already back on line, and with World Cup snow already in place on Superstar and Skyelark, 100% of the capacity, including the extra World Cup resources, is going toward eexpanding terrain for Thanksgiving Weekend. To give you an idea of what you can expect in the next week or so, we plan to make snow on Snowdon (Chute, Bunny Buster and Killink) to get the Snowdon Poma and Snowdon Quad running by midweek. We’ll also be making snow on Lower East Fall, to have the Canyon Quad running for the weekend, and the Snowshed and Ramshead Learn To areas, which will be served by magic carpet lifts for the holiday weekend.
Thanksgiving and the Xfinity Killington Cup are sure to make this an exciting and memorable week, I hope to see you here.