Centennial Trail Grooming is Back

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
February 12th, 2009

Users of the Centennial Trail will notice an improvement in the trail grooming this week as the grooming issues identified over last summer and the fall have at least temporarily been worked out and the trail will be groomed and track set for the remainder of the winter season.

Originally, as reported this past fall, the grooming issues stemmed from the sale of the Blackjack Ski Club’s old grooming machine which was narrow enough to fit through the tunnels on the trail, and the falling through of a deal between Red Resort and Blackjack to purchase and refit a new groomer which would be narrow enough to fit through the highway underpass and the new Caldera tunnel which left the Nordic ski club without a suitable vehicle to groom the trail. The remaining option, to groom the trail via snowmobile with a tow-behind track setting attachment, was then held up by a land use issue.

“There’s been sort of a delay between getting the green light from the city to groom the trail (using snowmobile and track setting attachment) and we were under the impression there were some problems accessing the road to get across to the trail and that sorted itself out quicker than we thought, so we’re back in business for the rest of the season,” explained Black Jack’s Tom Gomez.

The delay in Blackjack grooming the trail was caused by a land use issue on a section of the trail in which ownership of the land was in question, holding Blackjack back from accessing a portion of Centennial Trail. After the city looked into the issue, it was determined that there was no legal obstacle to access.

“Once we heard that it was resolved, I got on it right away and people were very helpful in punching holes through the snow banks that were there and we did some preparatory grooming last week,” explained Gomez. “This week we’re back on the regular schedule and we’re taking the larger track setting attachment over there. For classic skiing, walking and snowshoeing people will find it really nice.”

Starting work on the trail last week, doing preparatory work filling in holes, widening out the trail and creating a firm packed surface the trail is back in shape for cross country skiing again.

The events leading up to the use of a snowmobile and track setting equipment to groom the trail may turn out to have been a blessing in disguise as the overall cost of the grooming will be reduced this year. If the public is happy with the results this solution could mean savings on a number of fronts in years to come.

“To be honest it won’t cost as much this year as it has in the past because we’re using the smaller machine,” said Gomez. “At the end of the season it will be interesting to get some feedback to see if people were happy with the way it was with the smaller machine or if they really want the bigger machine. The snowmobile option will provide some cost savings for sure. It certainly has a smaller carbon footprint so that would be nice all the way around if we could keep doing it that way.”

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