Snow Grooming | September 2014

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See it live on

OFF-ROAD section


gilbert, one stop source for youR grooming needs Gilbert RTS snowgroomer • Two 30-inch wide rubber tracks with constant ground contact for superior traction • Design allows exceptional stability on winding trails and steep slopes • Uniquely engineered track system for powerful and smooth ride • Track systems compatible with any 2wd or 4wd tractor make & model between 100 and 160hp

Grooming drags for perfect trails... at all time Available in 9, 10, 11 foot wide models for all snow grooming industrial track vehicles

Ask your tractor dealer about Gilbert track installation!

Tel. 1 418.275.5041 1840 boul. Marcotte Fax 1 418.275.2624 Roberval (Qc) G8P 2P2


Issue 5 | September 2014

04 08 12 16

Making Tracks By Mark Halsall

Clearing the Path By Mark Halsall

Let It Snow By Jim Timlick

Eliminating the Paper Chase



By Mark Halsall

20 24 29 33




Grooming for Success By Mark Halsall

Giving Back, to the Sport He Loves By Mark Halsall

A Slippery Slope By Mark Halsall

The Oil Man: Getting to the Root of Hydraulic Problems By Jay Nenneman

Top five features of a Diamond three-point Boom Mower: Able to work on a variety of material from grass on the ground to brush up to six inches in diameter with reach of up to 17 feet in the air. The rotary heads, flail heads and our saw blade head will interchange on both the 17 foot and 20 foot HD versions depending what best fits your needs. Simple three-point mounting to a tractor means you don’t have to dedicate a tractor as a mowing tractor. These have been used on tractors with tires and tracks. Completely self-contained. Attached the three-point, hook up the power takeoff (PTO), plug in the cable for the controls and go mow. Able to work in close to the tractor for narrow trails and bridge crossings. Very economical and versatile way to maintain brush on your ATV and snowmobile trails. Made in the United States with dealers in all 50 states and Canada.


02 03


37 42 48

Paving the Way


By Mark Halsall

Flying High


By Mark Halsall

Coming Home By Mark Halsall



Soucy Track’s track systems are the most versatile grooming option out there. With our ingenious four-track system, your tractor will get the traction, flotation, and comfort you need for grooming your trails.

A true Swiss army knife VARY YOUR OPERATIONS

Since the groomer is separate from the tractor, you can use the tractor’s hydraulic outlets and three-point hitch to install a variety of equipment for different operations, whether it’s summer and winter.


You can go back to tires easily at any time, which lets you maximize your tractor’s productivity by using it twelve months a year.


We’ve designed our track systems to offer you optimal traction and flotation capacity. We’ve also developed tracks of varying widths to meet different needs. The four-track system also ensures constant contact with the ground, which improves flotation, traction and comfort.

PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE Issue 5 | September 2014

Connie Lester

Published by



2851 Henderson Highway Winnipeg, MB R2E 0C5 Website: Email: Phone: 1-204-505-5858 Fax: 1-204-505-5859

Publisher Connie Lester Managing Editor Mark Halsall Design & Layout Edge Marketing Strategies © 2014 Integrit Media Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors and/or editorial sources contained in Snow Grooming Magazine are those of the respective parties and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the publisher. Publication Mail Agreement #42677534. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: 2851 Henderson Highway Winnipeg, MB R2E 0C5 Printed in Canada. Please recycle where facilities exist.

Welcome to Snow Grooming Magazine!


nother season is around the corner and with it comes preparation by thousands to get our trails and equipment ready for snow. Snow Grooming Magazine was created to provide the thousands of snow grooming managers with options on equipment, technology, and information that will save you money and time and allow our readers to make informed decisions on behalf of your organizations. This issue is no different! We’ve added a new series of editorial this season, simply called “The Oil Man”. This column will bring information on oils and fluids that are used in our equipment every day. This informative column will enable you to better understand the oils needed to withstand extreme temperatures, the uses and needs of different oils and fluids, how oils breakdown and what goes into oil that keeps our equipment running smoothly for longer, and much more. We look forward to bringing you “The Oil Man” column and trust it will change the way you think about oils and fluids. Snow Grooming Magazine’s priority is to provide information on equipment and technologies to those who groom snow. Our philosophy is to help those in need of this information, especially within the non-profit organizations. Although our magazine goes out to ALL sectors that groom snow, including snowmobile trail grooming organizations, crosscountry and nordic ski areas, ski resorts, and commercial/industrial trail blazers, we know that many of the non-profit

organizations are especially in need of information as many volunteers operate and maintain the equipment on behalf of their clubs. We feel it’s very important that every non-profit snow grooming organization receives one free subscription so that they can be informed and ultimately make the best decisions for these organizations which are funded by donated and/ or government dollars. Please help us support those non-profit organizations by purchasing a subscription online. The purchase of subscriptions will help us hit our goal of providing these free issues to the non-profits and enable them to gain knowledge through the magazine and our online website If your organization is getting a free subscription now, please consider additional subscriptions for your primary grooming/operations managers so that your team is equally informed. We thank you for your support and look forward to continuing to bring you Snow Grooming Magazine and In this issue, our team has put together a variety of articles that we hope you will find both informative and enjoyable. We are happy give you another season of Snow Grooming Magazine! Sincerely, | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


Tracks made by Camoplast Solideal are found on Arctic Cat snowmobiles as well as those of numerous other manufacturers.



“ Camoplast products help these associations, clubs and resorts make the most of their equipment, improving efficiency through improved traction, flotation, stability, efficiency and durability.”

Making Tracks Camoplast Solideal’s commitment: product innovation. By Mark Halsall


ne of the most familiar brands in the snowmobile track manufacturing industry, Camoplast Solideal Inc. is a world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of off-theroad tires, wheels and rubber tracks for the material handling, construction, agricultural and powersports industries. It got its start in Quebec, Canada when Normand Carpentier and Michel Lasalle aquired several divisions of Bombardier for the purpose of creating a company to make snowmobile tracks. Camoplast grew organically over time as well as through acquisitions, such as the 1996 purchase of Finnish snowmobile track manufacturer Skega. The company forged partnerships with ma-

jor vehicle and equipment makers such as Arctic Cat, Yamaha, John Deere and Caterpillar, becoming one of the key industry suppliers in the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) market. The company became Camoplast Solideal in 2010 with the purchase of Solideal, a major player in the manufacture of tires, rubber tracks and wheels for the industrial and construction markets with an extensive business network and strategic locations in rubber-producing regions of Asia. The result of all this is one very large global company. Today, Camoplast Solideal employs more than 7,500 people in its extensive network of manufacturing plants and advanced R&D centres in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Camoplast tracks are found on many

vehicles used throughout the snow sports industry, to groom snowmobile and cross-country ski trails as well as transport staff and equipment at alpine ski operations. Camoplast Solideal is strategic OEM supplier to Arctic Cat, BRP, Polaris and Yamaha Motor Corporation, with more than 90 per cent of the snowmobiles manufactured by these companies equipped with Camoplast tracks. These include snowmobiles designed for utility applications that are often used for snow grooming. In addition, the company is the OEM track supplier to Italy’s Alpina Snowmobiles, which makes snowmobiles engineered for utility purposes and often used for snow grooming applications. Camoplast Solideal also sup- | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


Camoplast Solideal tracks are found on Arctic Cat snowmobiles as well as those of numerous other manufacturers.

plies tracks for the Tucker Sno-Cat, the popular four-tracked articulating overthe-snow vehicle used extensively in snowmobile trail grooming. Camoplast Solideal also distributes its products in the track replacement market through a distribution network that spans North America, Europe and Russia, says Bruce Dashnaw, Sales and Marketing Director, Powersports, adding Camoplast tracks are available at retail outlets of powersports products the world over. Camoplast Solideal also manufactures track systems that can also be


installed on most popular ATV and UTV brands for snow grooming purposes, providing snowmobile clubs as well as cross-country ski associations and downhill ski operations with the benefit of being able to use these vehicles year-round. These systems are available at most powersports dealers and agricultural equipment retailers throughout North America. “Camoplast products help these associations, clubs and resorts make the most of their equipment, improving efficiency through improved traction, flotation, stability, efficiency and dura-


Camoplast track systems can transform ATVs and UTVs into snow grooming vehicles, enabling them to be used year-round.

The ICE WideTrack snowmobile track features hundreds of lightweight carbide tipped studs for improved traction and operator confidence when working on ice and hardpacked snow surfaces.

bility,” says Dashnaw. “We are dedicated to being the best partner for those who work and play in the snow.” As an example, he refers to a crosscountry ski operation in Ironwood, Michigan that uses Camoplast tracks installed on a UTV vehicle to groom ski trails “because it reduces costs of operations when compared to other snow grooming equipment. Employees are more efficient and groom for more hours because of the ease of operation the tracks provide.” Clearly, innovative product development and customer satisfaction are key cornerstones of Camoplast Solideal’s

business philosophy. The company’s manufacturing facilities are ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certified, and engineers and technicians at the company’s dedicated technical centers work hard to design, develop and test new products to remain one step ahead of competition. As an example, Dashnaw cites two recently introduced products, the Cobra WT and Cobra SWT snowmobile tracks, which feature lug heights of 1.5 inches and 1.75 inches. “The additional lug height as well as the unique Cobra design allows improved efficiency and lower operating costs,” he says. Also available is a factory pre-studded track that features hundreds of lightweight carbide tipped studs for improved traction and operator confidence when working on ice and hard-packed snow surfaces. Camoplast Solideal’s commitment to innovation and the quality and reliability of products is reflected in the numerous Supplier Recognition Awards it has received from customers. According to Dashnaw, Camoplast Solideal’s powersports business unit recently won the BRP Gold Award, the Polaris Excellence Award and the Arctic Cat Quality and Delivery Award. Some of the criteria for these prestigious prizes are: the incidence of field warranty issues; implementation of cost reduction initiatives; on-time delivery; and partsper-million defect rate.

“We are very active with our original equipment customers’ development as well as conducting focus groups and attending major trade show events to network with the users of our products,” says Dashnaw. It’s this feedback, he stresses, that enables Camoplast Solideal to continue innovating and refining its products to keep up with the changing needs of customers. “Through investment in R&D, Camoplast Solideal has secured many patents that allow us to be unique compared to similar products,” says Dashnaw.

“ We are dedicated to being the best partner for those who work and play in the snow.” “Investing in new technology and continuing to deliver new products allows you to be competitive and meet the needs of the market. Customers have confidence in your products.” ❃ | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“ These mowers are designed to cut anything from grass, all the way up to brush and branches as large as eight inches in diameter. It can also mulch it up so that there’s no material left. It just keeps everything neat and clean.”

The business end of Diamond Mower’s heavy-duty, three-point hitch boom mower is a 50-inch rotary cutter with Diamond’s exclusive Tri-Hex cutting disc.



Clearing the Path Wondering how to get your snowmobile trail primed for winter? A three-point hitch boom mower from Diamond Mowers could be just the ticket. By Mark Halsall


etting snowmobile trails ready for winter fun requires some thinking ahead. And an important part of that preparation is making sure the trails are clear of brush —before the snow falls. That’s where a company like Diamond Mowers comes in. Maker of a wide range of industrial mowers, the South Dakota company provides trail maintenance equipment to an assortment of snowmobile clubs in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and other states in the U.S. Snow Belt. Al Urness is a territory sales manager for Diamond Mowers. He says the most popular machine with the company’s snowmobiling customers is the threepoint hitch boom mower. “Any kind of brush growing up on the trails, it’s be able to keep it down,” Urness says. “These mowers are designed to cut anything from grass, all the way up to brush and branches as large as eight inches in diameter. It can also mulch it up so that there’s no material left. It just keeps everything neat and clean.” The mower head moves in multiple directions via an adjustable boom that’s

raised and lowered at the operator’s command. For this reason, the system is highly effective on smaller trees and heavy-duty brush. “You can really open it up and push material back,” Urness says. “Cut it off, mulch it up, and get it out of the way.” The three-point hitch boom mower attaches to the back of tractors and has “its own boom stow by swinging the boom around to the rear of the tractor and folding it in,” he says. The threepoint set-up allows operators to work with the boom closer to the tractor “which is important due to how narrow a lot of the trails are,” Urness says, adding that the system can be attached and removed fairly easily. “That’s one of the reasons why the three-point style boom mower is really popular with the snowmobile clubs. They’re able to use their existing tractors, unhook the drag, put the threepoint boom mower on the back of the tractor, and get to work.” Once that’s done, the boom mower can be removed from the tractor in as little as 15 minutes, freeing it back up to do other work. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“ Some of these groomers have to get through pretty tight areas. You’re able to take out the brush and make room for them to get through without it hitting the cab.”

Improved Visibility Urness says he’s seen an increasing emphasis on proper trail preparation among snowmobilers. “A lot of clubs, they put as much work into the mowing part (of trail maintenance) as they do the grooming part,” he says. “It’s something that has gotten more popular.” Urness says there are a number of reasons for that. One is visibility; boom mowers can clear brush on all sides, improving visibility around corners. They can also reach as high as 20 feet up, clearing space for snow groomer equipment to get through the trails later on. “Some of these groomers have to get through pretty tight areas,” he says. “You’re able to take out the brush and make room for them to get through without it hitting the cab.” Besides visibility and clearance for equipment, another key issue is safety, Urness adds. You don’t want stray branches poking out it to hit snow grooming operators and snowmobilers

Heavy-Duty Equipment Best

during their winter runs. Clearing the trail before the snow flies takes care of that problem. Urness says that in addition to their use by snowmobile clubs, boom mowers are also utilized to clear cross-country ski trails, for largely the same reasons.

Diamond’s boom mowers are available in a variety of lengths and with several different types of mower heads. Of these, Urness says a heavy-duty system is the one best suited for snowmobile trail clearing. This boom mower comes in 17-foot and 20-foot lengths, and features a 50-inch rotary cutter capable of cutting material up to eight inches in diameter. It also features a proprietary Tri-Mex mulching disc and reinforcing ring, which provides greater inertia in tough conditions. The Diamond three-point hitch boom mower also includes a four-function, soft-shift joystick with improved ergonomics to cut down on operator fatigue. This standard feature also helps to reduce operator reaction time, allowing them to mow faster in tough terrain. The Diamond three-point hitch boom mowers are also built tough to withstand difficult conditions. Their

Three-point Hitch Boom Mower Specs


14-foot Standard Duty

16-foot Standard Duty

17-foot Heavy Duty

20-foot Heavy Duty


Category II or III

Category II or III

Category II or III

Category II or III

Power Take-off (shaft RPM)





Power Take-off (HP)





Minimum Tractor Weight (pounds)





Mower Heads

40-inch Rotary or 42-inch Flail

40-inch Rotary or 42-inch Flail

50-inch Rotary or 44-inch Flail

50-inch Rotary or 44-inch Flail

Weight with Rotary Head (pounds)





Weight with Flail Head (pounds)






shells are constructed of 100,000 psi steel housing — a rating nearly three times stronger than standard A36 steel. In addition, there are numerous optional features available for the equipment, including: a transport lock, a pump and grill guard, and a hydraulic trap door for rotary mower heads. Diamond Mowers is a family-owned operation that’s been in business since 2000. Urness says its manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota employs 60 or so people. A big chunk of the company’s business is in the area of roadside maintenance for municipalities, but its mowers are used for a wide variety of applications. Diamond’s sales market area is similarly broad. “We cover pretty much all of North America. We also have a dealership in Australia,” says Urness, adding that potential customers can go to and click on a link to a geographical area to find the closest Diamond Mowers dealer. ❃

In business since 2000, Diamond Mowers is family-owned operation based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


Let It Snow Global warming has meant an increase in marginal snow conditions and more snowmaking challenges, but the MND Group says it has the equipment to do the job right. By Jim Timlick

“ A multi-nozzle fan gun had an advantage over other products that were operating at the time. Prior to the multinozzle design machines had larger and fewer nozzles, which made for larger droplet sizes. The key to the efficient freezing of the droplet is small droplet size.”




case could easily be made that the art of snowmaking has never been more challenging than it is today. Global warming has resulted in warmer temperatures, which in turn have made it significantly more difficult to produce the fluffy white stuff. You need look no further than the last two Winter Olympic Games for proof. Help could soon be on the way, though, as one of the world’s largest providers of hazard prevention, equipment and safety solutions for ski areas and other sport facilities is looking to dramatically increase its footprint when it comes to snowmaking, including here in North America. Last year, MND Group acquired the assets of the Snownet Group of companies, which included Sufag and Areco, two European-based firms with reputations for creating world-class snowmaking equipment. The acquisitions are part of a plan to establish MND

Group as one of the major snowmaking operators in Canada, the United States and the rest of the world. “For MND, it’s given them an expansion into a huge customer base that’s been established by Sufag and Areco as well as snowmaking fan gun technology that they did not have (before),” says Ed Dietzel, sales and service manager of snowmaking for MND America. MND did have its own snowmaking fan gun “but they didn’t have a large distribution for it,” says Dietzel, adding Sufag and Areco have been manufacturing fan guns since the early 1980s. The acquisition of Areco and Sufag positions MND as the second largest snowmaking manufacturer in the world based on sales. As part of an effort to consolidate the company’s various holdings, MND is phasing out the Areco brand name but will continue to offer its technology as part of the Sufag family of products.

Focus on Multi-Nozzle Fan Gun Technology Dietzel says Sufag’s primary focus in North America will initially be on its multi-nozzle fan gun technology. What sets it apart from the competition, he says, is that it’s geared toward marginal temperature performance. “It’s suitable basically for any and all areas because the whole snowmaking season has shifted to ‘as early as possible.’ Typically in late September, October or November your weather is pretty variable. Some places can get cold temperatures but in most places it’s (only) the upper range where snowmaking is possible,” he says. One of Sufag’s most popular snowmaking machines is the high-efficiency Compact Peak. It offers a new geometric fan and nozzle ring design that together help provide improved efficiency. It has a snowmaking capacity of up to 96 cubic metres per hour and an

The MND Group’s line-up of snowmaking equipment includes Sufag snowmaking fan guns, which are geared towards marginal temperature performance. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


average throwing distance of approximately 40 metres. It comes with a total of 310 water nozzles and also features reduced noise emissions and an optional Bluetooth remote control. It’s joined by the Compact Access snowmaking machine, which offers both high performance and low energy consumption. It comes with 32 or 300 water nozzles and has a snowmaking capacity of up to 55 cubic metres per hour and an average throwing distance of about 30 metres. Its fan revolution speed of 1,450 rpm is nearly equal to that of the Compact Peak model (1,500). Both models provide high capacity output, especially in the range of 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Another selling feature of Sufag’s snow gun technology is its ease of use. It offers easy regulation of water flow with a manual ball valve and simple push button operation of the fan, compressor and swing. An automatic heat-

ing feature heats and thaws out the water ring, passages and valve which speeds up the process of snowmaking and makes it easier to operate the machines in colder temperatures. “After a pre-heating time you turn it on and you are ready to go,” Dietzel says. “Previous to that there was a lot of propane torches used and fooling around with stuff like that. Colder temperatures would affect the operation of the machine. By having an on-board heating system, it allows for it to operate in colder temperatures reliably.”

Commitment to Energy Efficiency Although the Areco brand name is disappearing, the company’s commitment to energy efficiency will not, according to Dietzel. “Areco has always been focused on energy efficiency right from the beginning,”

The Sufag Compact Access model features both high performance and low energy consumption.

says Dietzel, who was a sales manager with the company prior to its purchase by MND. “(The) volume of snow produced per kilowatt of energy has been very efficient. They are certainly good value for the money. A lot of the machines we

Features of Sufag Snowmaking Fan Guns


Compact Access

Compact Peak

Snowmaking Capacity (metres3/hour)

Up to 55

Up to 96

Water Pressure (bar)

8 to 40

8 to 40

Dimensions (L x W x H)

2181 x 1915 x 1921

2181 x 1915 x 1921

Weight on Base Frame (kilograms)



Swivel Mechanism (degrees)



Maximum Incline (degrees)



Filter Mesh (microns)



Fan Revolution Speed (RPM)



Average Throw Distance (metres)

Approx. 30

Approx. 40


Swivel Arm, Tower, Mobile

Swivel Arm, Tower, Mobile

Nucleation Nozzles (pieces)



Nucleation Nozzle Material

Nickeled Brass

High Quality Steel, Nickel Plated

Water Nozzles (pieces)

32 or 300


Water Nozzle Material

Brass/Stainless Steel

High Quality Steel, Nickel Plated

Compressor Type

Piston, Oil Lubricated

Piston, Oil Lubricated

Compressor Capacity (litres/min.)



Compressor Max. Over-Pressure (bar)



Connection Value for Fan, Compressor, Heating Devices (kilowatts)




began selling in 1994 are still out there working with minimal maintenance and parts required every year.” MND is still in the process of finalizing its distribution plans for the North American market. For the time being, customers in the U.S. will be serviced through MND America’s distribution centre in northeast Pennsylvania while Canadian customers be serviced through a distribution company in Montreal. Dietzel says 2015 will be something of a “consolidation” year for MND Group as it looks to get a handle on its product line and expand its customer base. The company has no immediate plans for further acquisitions and would prefer to stabilize its current holdings. With more than two decades of snowmaking experience, Dietzel has seen first-hand how much the business has changed over the years. One of the biggest changes, he says, was the introduction of multi-nozzle fan gun technology in the mid-1990s. “A multi-nozzle fan gun had an advantage over other products that were operating at the time. Prior to the multi-noz-

“ To operate efficiently, (ski hill operators) are going to have to invest in more snowmaking equipment and machines that operate at higher temperatures without depending on cold temperature operations. There will be a higher demand for any products that operate productively at (warmer) temperatures.” zle design machines had larger and fewer nozzles, which made for larger droplet sizes. The key to the efficient freezing of the droplet is small droplet size.” Snowmaking technology will continue to evolve in the years to come, Dietzel says, due in no small part to global warming and the warmer winter temperatures associated with it. “It’s going to have a significant impact like it already has in the last couple of years. In Europe, even this year, they had significantly warmer temperatures that made it impossible to make snow in a lot of the markets until late in

the season,” he says. “We saw that here three seasons ago where most areas of the East Coast there were no temperatures (low enough) to even attempt snowmaking until Christmas. “To operate efficiently, (ski hill operators) are going to have to invest in more snowmaking equipment and machines that operate at higher temperatures without depending on cold temperature operations. There will be a higher demand for any products that operate productively at (warmer) temperatures.” ❃

events & outdoor 2014 sports supplies

Your source for NEW and USED Drags, Groomers, Parts and Service


1-800-695-7142 w w w. s k i m o u nt a i n s u p p ly. c o m Mountain Grooming Equipment P.O. Box 324 Waitsfield, VT 05673

Call Today! 1-802-496-3836 | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


Eliminating the Paper Chase 1RISK offers a cloud-based system for mobile devices that takes the headache out of equipment record keeping. By Mark Halsall


or larger snow grooming operations, making sure your equipment is regularly checked and inspected could be considered the key to running a well-maintained fleet. Sometimes though, it can be hard to keep track of all that paperwork. A company called 1RISK says it has the solution. It offers a service that eliminates the paper chase in equipment maintenance and inspection through a cloud-based system that can be easily accessed by a smartphone, tablet or any computer device. “By implementing mobile-based checklists, it will provide a more accurate method of documentation than paper-based systems,” says Charles Mickley, business relationship director with 1RISK. His company offers a checklist/inspection service that Mickley says can be used for any machinery that requires maintenance operation logs, including snow grooming equipment. The system allows equipment maintenance history and repair analysis to be easily recorded, tracked and reported to management staff, as well as government organizations if required. “This is particularly useful when it comes to budgeting for updating equipment,” Mickley says. He adds the checklist/inspection data can also be used to analyze operations and track such things as fuel efficiencies


and equipment running times. “Engine and equipment checklists will provide the needed assurance that your equipment will work and perform as expected.” Mickley says the system also includes an automatic notification service. “Notifications can be set up and configured to remind staff to provide routine maintenance schedules based on a pre-configured schedule,” he says, adding such reminders can help ensure the needed follow-up for grooming equipment as well as for snowmaking and other resort operations. This not only results in a more regimented inspection schedule, but can also make for better use of management staff ’s time. “Management does not have to be reading logs daily,” says Mickley. “They would get notifications when certain conditions exist,” such as potentially dangerous situations or when regularly scheduled maintenance had not been performed when planned. Mickley describes the checklist as extremely easy to use and “100 per cent” configurable to any operation. “You create all of the ques-


The 1RISK mobile checklist system eliminates the headache of traditional paper-based systems.

“ By implementing mobile-based checklists, it will provide a more accurate method of documentation than paper-based systems.”

Using the 1RISK checklist system, mechanic Scott Miller inspects a groomer for missing or damaged tire guides as well as for missing or loose planetary and tire bolts while at work at Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania.

All photos courtesy of Brienna Waybrant, Picture This Portraits & Special Events. Facility usage courtesy of Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“ There are a few suppliers of software to the adventure industry for single, one-off solutions, but 1RISK is the only provider of a ‘total’ cloud-based risk management data solution.”

Mechanics Scott Miller and Corey Hesketh (right) use the 1RISK mobile checklist to go over any equipment deficiencies or repairs that need to be made on a groomer before the next snow grooming shift gets underway at Liberty Mountain Resort.

tions, and then you define the answers that could consist of Pass/Fail, Yes/No, True/False, OK/Not OK, Digital Signature, Date/Times, Temperature, Text Fields, Custom Data Lookups, and Images,” he says.

Only ‘Total” Solution According to Mickley, 1RISK was formed in the summer of 2012 for the purpose of providing an all-encompassing risk management data solution for the adventure industry. “Our initial focus was with the ski industry, but now (we’re) expanding out into the water sports, aerial parks/challenge courses and snow sports,” says Mickley. “There are a few suppliers of software to the adventure industry for single, one-off solutions, but 1RISK is the only provider of a ‘total’ cloud-based risk management data solution.” Mickley says the 1RISK solution is comprised of several modules that can be purchased separately or together as a fully integrated package. The 1RISK risk management solutions are built around modern mobile technology. Whether using a tablet or a smartphone, users can input data into the system and access real-time information via the system reports and dashboards. “With constant performance improvement and flexibility of mobile


devices to handle data speeds that are necessary to operate in a more truly wireless environment, we are seeing a growing interest in mobile device-based applications to handle almost anything, moving away from traditional computer based software,” Mickley says. “All of our software is fully cloud based and is designed for the mobile device industry and will run across all mobiles as well as laptop and computer browsers,” he says. “It runs very well on smaller screen mobile devices like phones, but also works very well across medium to larger tablets. We find that two of the tablets that seem very well suited to our checklist module are the iPad Mini and the Nexus 7.”

Benefits of GPS Accuracy Mickley says another key feature is the software’s ability to track the GPS locations of all data that gets captured. “Our checklist/inspection and OnHill

Terrain Park Logger software operates out of carrier or WiFi range and will allow the upload of data when back in carrier or WiFi coverage,” he explains. “(This) has been a big advantage for the adventure industry because there are many times these operations are out of range of most carriers and WiFi,” Mickley adds. “It allows for accurate logging of snow grooming data since many times the grooming is in very remote locations.” 1RISK is currently working on developing a new mountain dispatch/patrol system, which Mickley says could be of particular interest to those involved in snowmaking and snow grooming operations at alpine ski resorts. “This system will help keep track of dispatching staff as well as ski patrol to any incident or scene where additional staff or resources are needed,” he says. “This new system will also help keep track of and report lift status and trail closure due to grooming operations.”

In addition to checklist/inspection, modules include: Incident tracking

Waiver management

Accident investigation

Workers compensation

Terrain park management

Signage tracker


In addition to Mickley, the 1RISK staff is comprised of three software engineers and several client services employees. Mickley provides sales support as well as training, and also performs report and data analyses for the business. “We are based out of southern Pennsylvania but most of our staff work from home, so we can provide optimum support and flexibility to all of our clients,” he says, adding everyone at 1RISK is “extremely experienced in the adventure industry as well as software development and mobile device expertise.” Mickley says 1RISK’s sales market is

growing rapidly, fueled by the worldwide growth in the adventure industry as well as the explosion in cloud-based computing technology. “As more and more people endeavor in adventure sports, it is becoming more and more important to manage the risk in these areas and provide accurate and timely data capture,” he says. “Since our software is solely cloud-based, there is nothing to install so it makes it very flexible and portable. As our tag line reads, ‘you can use it anywhere and access your data from everywhere.’” ❃

(Left) Liberty Mountain Resort mechanic utilizes the 1RISK system to check coolant and oil levels on a snowmobile. (Above) 1RISK’s mobile-based checklist is a cloud-based system equipment maintenance and inspection system that can be easily accessed by a smartphone, tablet or any computer device.


SNO-CAT ® ___________________


Building Quality Since 1942. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


Grooming for Success Yellowstone Track System’s Ginzugroomer has become a staple at recent Winter Olympic Games. By Mark Halsall

The YTS Ginzugroomer drag, seen here grooming a ski jump out-run at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, is in high demand in Europe. Snow grooming implements made by Yellowstone Track Systems have been used in three of the past four Winter Olympics.



“ The Ginzu is just a really good groomer. It works so well in a very broad variety of snow conditions, and it sets fabulous tracks.”

The YTS Ginzugroomer Tracksetter is a great tool for classic trail grooming.

YTS Ginzugroomer Technical Specifications


ack in the late 1970s, the U.S. Nordic ski team was looking for a new place to train. They ended up in West Yellowstone, the Montana town located literally at the doorstop of what’s arguably the world’s most famous park. Because of its perch on the continental divide, the area also enjoyed great snow conditions. West Yellowstone’s Doug Edgerton was called on to groom trails for that U.S. team. When you consider his background, it’s perhaps not too surprising that Edgerton’s work turned into a passion for making his own snow grooming equipment. “Since I grew up around farms and (was used to) building things, I more or less decided I could build a few tracksetters and make a little money on the side,” he says. Edgerton formed Yellowstone Track Systems in 1982, and three decades later his grooming equipment is renowned in Nordic ski circles the world over. YTS groomers have been used in three of the last four Winter Olympic Games (Sochi, Vancouver and Salt Lake City) and they continue to be in high demand in Europe —Edgerton says he sells more groomers in Norway than in either Canada or the United States. Edgerton’s grooming implements also sell as far afield as Japan and Chile.

60-inch YTS Ginzugroomer

84-inch YTS Ginzugroomer

Weight (pounds)



Knife Cutting Width (inches)



Overall Frame Width (inches)



Overall Mat Width (inches)



Ginzugroomer Key to Success The key to YTS’s current success, says Edgerton, is the Ginzugroomer implement he devised back in 2000. “The Ginzu is a just really good groomer. It works so well in a very broad variety of snow conditions, and it sets fabulous tracks,” he says. The Ginzugroomer comes in three widths for snowmobile use — 60-inch, 84-inch and 108-inch models. There are two versions of the 108-inch model, one with an aluminum frame and the other with a heavier, all-steel frame that’s designed to be pulled by light- to mediumweight snow cats and utility vehicles. The most popular YTS machine is the 84-inch YTS Ginzugroomer, followed by the 60-inch model. The company maintains the 84-inch groomer creates impeccably groomed skate skiing lanes and, when used in combination with the YTS Ginzugroomer Tracksetter, is also a great tool for classic trail grooming.

The 84-inch YTS Ginzugroomer is constructed with an aluminum frame and has steel parts that are powdercoated for durability. The hitch height is adjustable, and the weight racks are standard equipment and can accept up to 200 pounds of additional weight. The groomer features two rows of double knives that provide accurate, progressive cutting of the snow surface. An electric actuator makes it possible to adjust the depth of cutting while you groom, and the implement’s knives are bolted on and are easily replaceable. Its cutter bars are spring-loaded for adjustable tension and safety release. There are rubber mounts for vibrating action in hard snow. The compactor section is a heavy-duty, UV-resistant rubber mat, and it features two rows of bolt-on snow comb that can be replaced easily. “We developed the combs specifically for Nordic,” says Edgerton. “They have a more rounded profile, instead of a sharp profile on top, so when you use them in really hard snow they still work really well.” | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


YTS’s most popular machine, the 84-inch Ginzugroomer, is built with an aluminum frame and steel parts that are powder-coated for durability.

He stresses customer service is a core value at Yellowstone Track Services. For that reason, YTS products undergo frequent improvements. “The Ginzu pretty much constantly changes. Product development is very important (to us), so the Ginzu today is not the same as it was three years ago and is certainly no where near the same as it was back in 2001,” Edgerton says. Some of the recent changes to the Ginzugroomer include material and design improvements to the frame as well as the implement’s side baffles, snow sweeps and snow shields. The hitch was also made longer, for less tongue weight and easier handling of the implement, and an optional wheel kit as well as a gooseneck hitch option are also now available for the groomer. “We also have a new compaction drag this season,” says Edgerton. Among its features will be “better flow through, a better comb, trip releases on

the blades which you don’t see on Nordic implements very often, (and) an actuator on the hitch assembly so it’s a little easier to handle deep, fresh snow or on road crossings.” Also new for this season is a special grooming implement catering to the new sport of riding “fat bikes” —essentially, mountain bikes with really big tires —on snow-covered trails.

Unique Tracksetter Design The YTS product lineup includes a compaction drag, a roller/compactor and a front renovator. The company also makes three types of tracksetters: the Ginzugroomer Tracksetter and a Lightweight Tracksetter for use with snowmobiles, and a larger Universal Tracksetter that is pulled behind over the snow or utility vehicles. Edgerton says a main selling feature of the YTS tracksetting devices is their unique design. “The implement doesn’t steer the tracksetter,” he says, adding the tracksetter isn’t attached to a couple of fixed points but instead pivots, which enables it to move independently of the larger grooming implement. The result is “really clean tracks

The combs on the YTS Ginzugroomer have a more rounded profile, creating surfaces particularly well suited for Nordic skiing.



The YTS Universal Tracksetter meets all the requirements for hydraulically operated tracksetting behind larger, over the snow vehicles.

through the kind of tight corners” required for Olympic and World Cup level events. At the company’s manufacturing facility in West Yellowstone, three people work in the shop and another person is in charge of the books and answering the phones. Edgerton manages the company, which means doing “a little bit of everything.” Somehow, he also manages to find time to spend much of the winter outdoors doing — what else? — snow grooming. Edgerton grooms trails for his local cross-country ski club in West Yellowstone and has for many years. He’s also involved in grooming preparations for a big ski race event that attracts toplevel skiers from the U.S. and Canada to the community every year. All this adds up to 80 to 100 days of grooming over the five-month span of a Montana winter, but Edgerton contends, “That’s where a lot of product development comes from.” Edgerton considers himself in good shape, and says even though he’s 63 and has been snow grooming “forever,” he’s not about to slow down. “I groom 300 hours or more a winter still to this day… I still like grooming.” ❃

Giving Back, to the Sport He Loves Meet Chris Willey, winner of the ISHOF’s Groomer of the Year Award for 2014. By Mark Halsall

ISHOF Groomer of the Year, Chris Willey

Iowa snow groomer Chris Willey is a devoted snowmobiler.




hris Willey has been named the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame Groomer of the Year for 2014. “It’s a definite honour,” says Willey. “It’s kind of humbling that someone would think you’ve done that good a job to be named International operator (of the year).” Willey, a 34-year-old automotive warranty claims specialist who lives in the northeastern Iowa community of Manchester, has been a member of his local snowmobile club, the Snow Pioneers, going on 18 years. He’s served on the club’s board for the last nine years, the past year as president.

Willey says he’s stepping down as president for the coming year so he can focus on his duties as groomer manager, a position he’s held with the Snow Pioneers since 2008. “There’s been just so much going on that I had to step back and do one or the other,” says Willey, who up until last year was also trail co-ordinator with the club. “The groomer is where my heart is.” As the Snow Pioneers’ groomer manager, Willey is in charge of the State-owned 2006 Tucker-Terra 2000 Sno-Cat, which pulls a Mogul Master drag. During the snowmobiling season, he manages the paperwork and keeps track of where the groomer has been and where it needs to go on the extensive trail system used by the Snow Pioneers, which spans more than 250 miles. Willey services and maintains the snow groomer with help of skilled volunteers from the Snow Pioneers. He also co-ordinates the ef-

Chris Willey (right), pictured here with son Wyatt and Chris Brandt.

“ Being out there on the snow, laying out a safe, smooth trail for everyone else to enjoy, there’s some satisfaction in that. That’s probably the biggest payback for me, giving back to the sport I love.”

forts of the club’s 17 other groomer operators, which includes Willey’s wife, brother, mother and father. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Willey often leads the way in actual seat time in the groomer each winter.

Chris Willey says laying out a safe, smooth trail for other snowmobilers to enjoy is satisfying work. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“Being out there on the snow, laying out a safe, smooth trail for everyone else to enjoy, there’s some satisfaction in that,” says Willey. “That’s probably the biggest payback for me, giving back to the sport I love.” Willey also plays a leading role in the club’s annual preparation work, helping mow the trails each fall and personally marking and maintaining 45 miles of trail, which includes scouting for needed signs and unidentified hazards before the snow flies each year. Somehow, Willey also finds time to support snowmobiling and snow grooming at the state level. He is a regional director for the Iowa State Snowmobile Association, and manages groomer operator training for the state. In 2012, Willey was named Iowa’s Groomer of the Year.

ISHOF Award Honours Dedicated Volunteers

Northern Minnesota’s Elmer Cone founded the ISHOF in 1986 as a way to recognize the vast number of

Chris Willey spends many hours behind the wheel of a 2006 Tucker-Terra 2000 Sno-Cat every season, grooming trails for his local snowmobile club.

volunteers who devote their time to the development, maintenance and awareness of snowmobile trails across North America. Since 2000, it has annually bestowed a Groomer of the Year Award to a dedicated individual who goes above and beyond to bolster the sport of snowmobiling. The annual winner is invited to spend a weekend at ISHOF headquarters in Eagle River, Wisconsin and attend a banquet to receive the award. Arctic Cat, which sponsors the Groomer of the Year Award event each Sep-

tember, donates to the winner the use of a snowmobile for a year (the winner has the option to purchase it after that) and an Arctic Cat jacket. The winner’s photo and honor plaque joins those of past award recipients in the International Groomer of the Year display at the World Snowmobile Headquarters in Eagle River. Les Pinz, ISHOF vice president and himself a recipient of the Groomer of the Year Award in 2011, notes that these awards are necessary to keep the industry and the sport of snowmobil-

Plaques honouring recipients of the International Groomer of the Year award can be found on display at the World Snowmobile Headquarters in Eagle River, Wisconsin.



Photo courtesy of Scott Anderson.

“ There are four or five guys in my club who work closely with me that do the same thing and are probably just as deserving of this award as I am. And every club in every state has guys like that.” ing alive and well. Without the hard work of the groomers, he says, there would be no trails to ride. “We want to try to impress into younger people that these trails aren’t here forever, and if we don’t have people to help take care of them we won’t have them,” Pinz says. “Once we lose trails, it’s very hard to get them back.” Willey agrees that many snowmobilers either don’t really appreciate all the hard work that goes into a great ride or, at the very least, seem to take the trails for granted. “Everybody wants the smooth, groomed trail. But they don’t really understand the how or why that groomed

trail happened, or who does it,” he says. “A lot of people don’t understand that if (not for) the dedicated people who mark the trails or groom the trails, we’re not to have them.” Willey believes it’s crucial for more people to pitch in to help spread out the workload. “That’s a challenge for every club,” he says, adding that in his various roles at local, regional and state levels he always stresses the importance of getting more young people, more involved. Willey personally spends at least 40 to 50 hours just making sure the trails are ready before the snow groomer goes out, along with getting all the equipment ready for winter. And that’s

before he actually logs any time grooming trails during the season. “I’m one guy who does that,” Willey says. “There are four or five guys in my club who work closely with me that do the same thing and are probably just as deserving of this award as I am. And every club in every state has guys like that.” ❃

Even before the snow flies, Chris Willey spends dozens of hours each fall preparing trails and getting grooming equipment ready for the season.

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Todd Wilson drives a winch-assisted snow groomer, which is a must for the steep inclines found at Howelsen Hill ski jumps. Photo courtesy of Todd Wilson.

A Slippery Slope U.S. Olympian Todd Wilson talks about the unique challenges of grooming ski jumps. By Mark Halsall | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“ Being able to meet so many people, and being able to ski in so many different countries, that gave me a really good perspective of the world, and a very good perspective of how lucky we are to live in this country versus other parts of the world that aren’t so fortunate.” – Todd Wilson

Most days during the ski season, Todd Wilson will spend a couple of hours out grooming. Photo courtesy of Tim Flanagan.


he Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club based at Howelsen Hill, Colorado has been a fertile breeding ground for Olympic athletes. Close to 90 U.S. Olympians have trained there over the years, about 40 per cent of them competing in ski jumping events or in the sport of Nordic combined, which combines ski jumping with cross-country skiing. It’s only fitting, then, that the job of grooming Howelson Hill’s ski jumps falls to Todd Wilson, a two-time Olympian who spent nine years travelling around the world as a member of the United States ski jumping team. “It was unbelievable. Not only was it a great experience, something I loved to do, but it was in a lot of respects an education in itself,” says Wilson, who joined the American squad fresh out of high school. “Being able to meet so many people, and being able to ski in so many different countries, that gave me a really good perspective of the world, and a very good perspective of how lucky we are to live in this country versus other parts of the world that aren’t so fortunate.”


Born and raised in Winter Park, another popular Colorado ski community a couple of hours away from Steamboat Springs, Wilson tried on his first skis at a very young age. “My parents were both ski instructors, so I naturally grew up skiing,” he says. His cousin convinced him to try ski jumping at a tender age and in Wilson’s words, “I was hooked.” By the time he was eight, Wilson was already training on Howelsen Hill’s ski jumps. Today, as director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Programs, Wilson manages a team of 16 ski coaches. As an employee of the city of Steamboat Springs, which operates the Howelsen Hill facility, he’s also in charge of maintaining the ski jumps, which includes snow grooming. All this makes for a busy work schedule, but Wilson loves it. “It’s a lot of hard work but the neat thing about my job is that it isn’t doing the same thing over and over,” he says. “It’s working with a bunch of kids, then working with coaches and coming up with training programs, then doing budgets and office work and administra-

Todd Wilson drives a winchassisted snow groomer, which is a must for the steep inclines found at Howelsen Hill ski jumps. Photo courtesy of Todd Wilson.


tion, and then you’re going out and doing something physical and staying in shape and outdoors. I just like the variety.” Wilson says he spends a couple of hours most days outside snow grooming during the ski season, focusing most on the ski jump areas but also grooming cross-country ski trails occasionally.

Unique Challenges Snow grooming at a ski jump facility isn’t like grooming a cross-country trail or a downhill ski run. It has its own unique set of challenges, such as the precipitous slopes that ski jumpers land on. In these areas, using a winch-assisted snow groomer is a must — unless you want to do it by hand. That’s exactly how it was done prior to Howelsen Hill’s purchase of an ice-cleat equipped Bombardier 275 Plus MP Winch Cat back in 2004. “The landing hills are so steep and it’s so tight to get into, that it can be challenging to get into position,” says Wilson. “Being able to do this with a groomer has helped us out immensely.” Two other snow groomers — a Bombardier BR 275 and a Prinoth 350 — are employed to groom the flats areas (at the

Safety is the No. 1 concern in any ski jump operation and Todd Wilson knows the work can’t be rushed when he’s out grooming with the Bombardier Winch Cat.

end of jump landing areas) at Howelsen Hill, and are also used to groom alpine and terrain park areas at the ski resort. Craig Robinson is the Howelsen Hill facilities supervisor for the City of Steamboat Springs Parks Department. He says there is more snowmaking involved in shaping ski jumps these days, and the winch cat is required to spread the snow around to achieve the correct depths and contours.

Photo courtesy of Todd Wilson.

Robinson says snowmaking and snow grooming on ski jump hills is not only challenging but can be dangerous work. According to Robinson, Wilson is their most experienced snow groomer operator, and as such he knows the importance of taking his time with the winch cat. “Safety is a concern in everything that we do,” Robinson says. “With steepness of these slopes… protocols need to be followed and adhered to so that acci-

“Safety is a concern in everything that we do. With steepness of these slopes … protocols need to be followed and adhered to so that accidents don’t happen. There is no rushing to get this job done. It’s take your time, and do it right.” – Craig Robinson dents don’t happen. There is no rushing to get this job done. It’s take your time, and do it right. ❃ | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


07459-03/2014 sons.


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When it comes to hydraulic systems, there are ways to prevent and even eliminate unexpected downtime for snow grooming vehicles.

The Oil Man Getting to the Root of Hydraulic Problems

“ I’d like to advise mechanics, operators and managers to move away from the panic implied in the “just get it fixed” mentality, to a more comprehensive root cause recognition process.”

By Jay Nenneman


hether in a manufacturing environment or on a mountaintop, unexpected hydraulic failure can be very expensive. Not only in terms of parts and labour, but even more so when we talk about the cost of lost production. Ski resort managers and snow grooming operators know to expect the unexpected and plan for the “best case” scenario. They also know that there is a limited amount of time to get

things to pristine condition before the first run of the season, and that being down unexpectedly will be the difference between hero and zero. When it comes to hydraulic systems, there are ways to help prevent and even eliminate unexpected downtime. I’d like to advise mechanics, operators and managers to move away from the panic implied in the “just get it fixed” mentality, to a more comprehensive root cause recognition process. My feeling is that in any instance of unplanned downtime, if

root cause identification is possible, then eliminating downtime is also possible. Every incident could be seen as an opportunity to gain more insight into the dynamics of the hydraulic system components causing the failure, thus giving the mechanics, operators and managers a shot at eliminating the variable. In my opinion, the easiest way of doing this, is asking some simple questions that will enhance understanding of what is taking place within any given system. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


Hydraulic systems are important components of modern snow groomers.

These questions can be categorized six ways: What happened? 1. Exactly what failed, when did it fail, and what were the symptoms of the failure?


2. Were there any early indications that something was wrong, such as reduced performance, unusual sounds or vibration, increased operating temperatures, fluid loss, etc.? 3. Has the system experienced similar failures in the past? If so, what was done to remedy them?

What equipment was involved?


1. What are the make, model and age of the equipment that failed? 2. What are the lubrication requirements, and have they been met? 3. This information can help you identify and possibly prevent potential problems in other systems using the same components.

4. Have other systems experienced similar failures?

Was the system properly lubricated?


1. I s there any evidence of abnormal wear that may be attributed to improper or insufficient lubrication? 2. A re the correct lubricants being used according to established schedules and procedures? 3. A re the lubricants being changed regularly? 4. D o the lubricants have the appropriate viscosity and additive packages for the application?

What were the operating conditions?

1. Was the system being operated within established parameters for pressure, temperature and speed? Had any of these parameters been changed prior to the failure? 2. Had any of the loads handled by the system been changed? 3. Did the operator make any adjustments to any system components prior to the failure?

5. A re the same lubricants performing satisfactorily on similar equipment in other systems? 6. H as the lubricant brand, supplier, and/or storage conditions been changed recently? 7. A re there any abnormal data points in the used oil analysis?




Another critical question to ask is whether all equipment parts have been properly lubricated.


What is the operating environment? 1. Where is the equipment physically located in the plant?

2. Is it near any obvious sources of contamination? 3. Are the temperatures in the area excessively or unusually high or low? Have they changed recently for any reason? 4. Has anything been changed recently in the area where the equipment is located? 5. Have similar problems been encountered with systems located in similar operating environments?

Having this kind of checklist could you help keep your head and take the proper action the next time things go south. A lot of the time when a machine goes down or there’s hydraulic system failure, especially in a production type environment or if you’re pressed for time, panic can set in. Few people take the time to think strategically after the fact — it’s all about getting the machine

How is the equipment maintained?


1. Are preventive maintenance procedures documented, scheduled — and most importantly — followed? 2. Are fluid conditions monitored, including regular laboratory analysis? How frequently? 3. Are fluids changed regularly on schedule? 4. Are the proper filters installed and regularly monitored and changed?

back up and running, getting caught up quickly, and back on task. Getting people to just stop, take a breath and think things through logically is the key to avoiding a repeat of the problem. By asking these questions, the source of the hydraulic system trouble can be more readily identified. Once identified, steps to correct the problem can be taken to improve operations. ❃

Regularly checking and changing fluids in hydraulic lines is another way to ensure your snow groomer fleet continues to run smoothly.

1 #



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Paving the Way When it comes to cutting though moguls in tough trail conditions, the Trail-Paver lives up to name. By Mark Halsall

Veteran snowmobiler Larry Snyder envisioned a heavy-duty snow grooming drag capable of slicing through moguls in tough trail conditions. The result is the Trail-Paver.


arry Snyder is an experienced snowmobiler who set out to build a better snow groomer. That’s because in all his years riding innumerable trails across the North American Snow Belt, he couldn’t help noticing that some trails were a lot smoother and compact than others. “You could really tell the difference in the snowmobile steering — it just didn’t feel like there were as many leftover moguls on the trails,” Snyder says. “When I tracked down the unit that had groomed those trails, every time it was a groomer with a hydraulically adjustable packer pan.”

Snyder took a closer look at how these groomers worked, and also talked to the operators about the kind of improvements they’d like to see to make the equipment even more versatile and functional. Taking all this into consideration, Snyder began constructing a snow grooming implement he thought would fulfill the operators’ wishes. The result is the Trail-Paver. “It’s been a long process, making sure that we have designed and built a unit that does everything we set out for it to do. We didn’t want our customers to be test pilots,” says Snyder, whose company,

“ As it turned out, we couldn’t have named it more appropriately. The Trail-Paver does everything the name implies.” Trail-Paver LCC, is located in Holland, New York, about 35 miles south of Buffalo in the Lake Erie snow belt. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“ Our customers tell us that it’s easier on their pulling unit’s drive train and they can generally run in a gear or two higher. As a result, they use less fuel.”

The Trail-Paver is designed to make a harder, more durable trail for snowmobile enthusiasts.

Snyder’s other equipment requirements were the ability to: • Cut through moguls and remove the memory in a single pass, as well as cut and flatten berms in the corners, without the use of a front blade • Make smooth transition cuts through road bank crossings • Back up on the trail without having to put the wheels down and leaving mounds of snow behind • Groom wet snow in 32 Fahrenheit or above conditions •M ake a harder, more durable trail

According to Snyder, the main objective was to build a rugged machine that could stand up to harsh working conditions, like cutting through hardpacked snow and ice, hitting rocks and stumps, and being pulled around trees. “The Trail-Paver has accomplished all these goals and more. As it turned out, we couldn’t have named it more appropriately. The Trail-Paver does everything the name implies,” says Snyder. “When people see a ‘Paver’, as most call it, in action on rough, trashed trails, they’ll say things like, ‘My drag won’t do that’, or ‘I have never seen snow cut and processed like that’,” he adds. “The operators tell us it’s their dream grooming machine.”

Trail-Paver Blade

Blade Design Key to Success The Trail-Paver’s hydraulic packer pan is critical to the machine’s performance, but another key component is the blade design. “All the cutting blades are non-trip and concentric. They’re smooth on one side and have a modified shark’s tooth pattern on the other, so they resist clogging with sticks and branches,” says Snyder. “The blades are reversible and interchangeable within like sizes, which allows multiple blade configurations of smooth and serrated. They’re also guaranteed against breakage.” Snyder says the blade holders are de-

Remember cut to the bottom of the moguls Cutting Depth Should Not Be Below Mogul Dip.

Direction of Travel Mogul Dip


Trail Base Ground Set the Trail-Paver so the cutting blades cut to the bottom of the mogul’s dip, But not into the compacted trail base. The Trail-Paver is designed to cut right to the bottom of moguls.



Trail-Paver blades are interchangeable, allowing for multiple configurations of smooth and serrated blades. Pictured here is a nine-foot, six-inch, eight-blade Trail-Paver.

signed to enable the blades to go over potentially damaging obstacles, but also provide maximum cutting ability. The blade and pan skag holders are also fitted with interlocking adjuster plates for easy blade adjustments. The Trail-Paver’s blades can cut through 16-plus inches of hard-packed snow, which is processed through the machine’s multi-angled blades and then laid back down on the trail. As a result, only 12 to 18 inches of snow is carried in front of the rear vertical baffle. Snyder says 22-inch high, full-length side panels act to contain the snow and also add tremendous strength to the Trail-Paver. According to Snyder, the Trail-Paver is CAD designed for functionality, strength and precision manufacturing. “This allows us to offer three models, with eight, 10 or 12 blades,” he says,

adding that Trail-Pavers come in four different widths ranging from seven feet, six inches to 10 feet, six inches. The Trail-Paver also features dual digital hydraulic position indicators in the cab, which enable operators to check the elevation of the front hitch and the packer pan cylinders at a glance. Snyder says this is particularly useful for pulling units that have limited rear visibility. Other standard features include flow control valves on the front hitch and packer pan cylinders, which provide smooth, easily controlled cylinder movements. The Trail-Paver includes a DOT light bar for road travel, as well as wheels capable of being driven at highway speeds. Numerous custom features are also available, including optional paint colours, toolbox add-ons and extra lights.

Dual digital hydraulic position indicators enable operators to easily keep tabs on the elevation of the Trail-Paver’s front hitch and packer pan cylinders.

The Trail-Paver’s front hitch assembly features flow control valves and a digital stroke sensor.

Smaller Overall Load Snyder says Trail-Pavers are a little heavier than some traditional drags because of their heavy-duty construction. “Traditional drags are lighter or weigh about the same, but carry substantially more snow (while) trying to do the same cutting job,” Snyder says, adding that as a result, there’s less gross weight being pulled by the Trail-Paver. “Our customers tell us that it’s easier on their pulling unit’s drive train and they can generally run in a gear or two higher,” he says. “As a result, they use less fuel.” Snyder maintains another benefit for snowmobile clubs utilizing the TrailPaver is better business. “They are attracting and increasing their club membership and revenue by improving the rider experience on their trail system.” According to Snyder, Trail-Pavers are being towed by all brands of two-track | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


The Trail-Paver is capable of being towed by many different brands of two-track and four-track towing machines.

and four-track pulling machines. “We have modified the front of the Trail-Paver to accept ram-steer hitches,” he adds. Up to now, Trail-Pavers have primarily been used for snowmobile trails, but Snyder maintains track setters could be easily adapted to the machine’s packer pan for the purpose of grooming cross-


country ski trails. Another possible use, he says, is trail grooming for dog sledding events, which utilize hard trails. Snyder says it’s in warm/wet snow conditions that the Trail-Paver really proves its worth. “When there are warm periods during the season, the trails get torn up easily,”


he says. “Operators can use the TrailPaver to groom wet, sticky snow during these times to flatten and rehabilitate the trails so they’re better prepared for the freeze up. The trail base is re-established and ready for new snow. It’s hard to believe, but it works great.” ❃

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Flying High People have been ski jumping at historic Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for 100 years. It’s a big reason why the community is known as Ski Town, USA. By Mark Halsall



“ The City of Steamboat Springs has become known as Ski Town USA. That’s because we’ve produced more Olympians from this town than any other town in America, and perhaps the world.”

The sport of ski jumping has thrived at Howelsen Hill for 100 years.


Craig Robinson is the Howelsen Hill facilities supervisor for the City of Steamboat Springs Parks Department.

t’s one of the oldest ski areas in continuous use in the United States. And historic Howelsen Hill, located across the river from downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is where Norwegian Carl Howelsen introduced this part of the country to the Nordic sport of ski jumping. In early 1914, Howelsen founded the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and organized the community’s first Winter Carnival, a tradition that continues to this day. Convinced that a constructing a ski jump on a nearby steep slope could lead to new ski jumping records, Howelsen led clearing and construction efforts on a nearby mountainside. In 1917, that slope was named Howelsen Hill. The sport of ski jumping has thrived at Howelsen Hill ever since. Almost 90 Olympic athletes have trained at this

Photo courtesy of Todd Wilson.

historic ski area, about 40 per cent of them competing in ski jumping or Nordic combined events. That’s definitely a source of pride for the community. “The City of Steamboat Springs has become known as Ski Town USA,” says Craig Robinson, Howelsen Hill facilities supervisor for the City of Steamboat Springs Parks Department. “That’s because we’ve produced more Olympians from this town than any other town in America, and perhaps the world.” Today, Howelsen Hill has seven ski jumps, with the smallest measuring 10 metres and the largest 127 metres in size. Most of them are natural ski jumps, meaning both the in-run area of the jump and the landing area are built into the hillside and generally follow its existing contours. The Howelsen Hill ski area infrastructure facility belonged to the Steamboat | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“ If you want to be considered up to current FIS standards, there are modifications that have to be made on your hills that can add up in price very quickly.” Springs Winter Sports Club until 1977, when the City of Steamboat Springs assumed ownership and took over operations. According to Robinson, the cost of running the ski area was getting too high for a non-profit organization like the sports club. However, the club still maintains a partnership agreement with the city, retaining exclusive rights to use the training facilities at Howelsen Hill and host ski events there.


Howelsen Hill has seven ski jumps, ranging in size from 10 metres to 127 metres.

Robinson says the Howelsen Hill facility incurred just over $454,000 in operating costs and about $380,000 in personnel costs last season. Of that, 75 per cent was paid for by the City of Steamboat Springs, which provided a $630,000 subsidy to the facility. The city’s agreement with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is renewed every 10 years, and the next renewal date is 2017. Robinson says city officials are currently reviewing the agreement and checking into alternate partnership possibilities that could help to reduce Steamboat Spring’s hefty annual subsidy. “We’re looking at all of our options, with the goal of increasing the efficiency of the operations and offsetting the subsidy level to more sustainable numbers,” he says. Under the city’s partnership agreement with the sports club, Steamboat Springs is responsible for Howelsen Hill’s snow grooming and associ-


Photo courtesy of Todd Wilson.

ated costs. Last season, the price tag for maintaining a fleet of three snow groomers was approximately $143,000 (a figure which includes a replacement fund for each vehicle), according to Robinson. The personnel costs for all snow groomer work on the mountain added up to about $15,000 last season. There are also infrastructure costs associated with maintaining a 100-yearold ski jumping facility. For example, jumps need rebuilding every five to 10 years to keep up with new ski jumping regulations and safety standards, as well as to counteract the tendency for natural slopes to slide. “We have two jumps that are yearround jumping facilities that were constructed in the last eight years. They’re elevated and built on concrete, to meet the new standards,” says Robinson. “I think ski jumps as a whole are fairly expensive and have been challenging to maintain and keep up with FIS (International Ski Federation) standards.

These standards have changed and been modified over the years as they’ve learned more about the sport and the best angles for takeoff and on the landing hill,” says Robinson. “If you want to be considered up to current FIS standards, there are modifications that have to be made on your hills that can add up in price very quickly.”

Money Well Spent Robinson is quick to point out that many Steamboat Springs residents consider any dollars directed towards boosting the city’s reputation and impressive ski legacy as money well spent. “There are intangibles that are associated with it that are hard to put a dollar amount on,” says Robinson, adding that community’s revenues are sales tax based and there are no property taxes in Steamboat Springs.

“We are Ski Town USA, and people may be coming here because of that reason,” he says “The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the ski jumping facility at Howelsen Hill have been integral in helping to achieve that title. So are people coming here and are we generating revenues because of this facility? Many people believe that is the case.” Robinson says it’s also hard to put a price tag on the quality of life that the Howelsen Hill facility helps provide locals. “Not everybody is a ski jumper, but we have very family friendly atmosphere here for kids learning how to ski. For many parents, Howelsen Hill is an affordable opportunity to get their kids on skis for the first time,” he says. Robinson adds the Steamboat Springs Winter Sport Club is also renowned for providing top-notch training programs that for some, have

Maintaining ski jumps to keep up with changing International Ski Federation standards can be expensive.

represented a stepping stone to the Olympic glory. A great example of that is Todd Lodwick, a six-time Olympian and Steamboat Springs native who just happened to be the American team flag-bearer at the last Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. “Families are moving to Steamboat Springs because of everything we have to offer,” says Robinson. “So those are some of the intangible benefits that are hard to put a price tag on when you talk about this facility.” ❃

There are intangibles that are associated with (the city’s impressive ski legacy) that are hard to put a dollar amount on.

Photo courtesy of Todd Wilson. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


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Coming Home A classic snow groomer returns to Big Powderhorn to help mark the 50th anniversary of the Michigan ski resort. By Mark Halsall

A Tucker Sno-Cat at work at Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort, circa 1965. Credit: Photo courtesy of Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort.


ig Powderhorn Mountain Resort, located in the Porcupine Mountains ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is celebrating its 50th year this winter. And one of the Tucker Sno-Cats that helped groom the ski hill that inaugural season is coming home after half a century. The 1965 Tucker 343 Sno-Cat belongs to Sean Kellar, who along with his father Marv put in hundreds of hours back in 2010-11 carefully restoring the classic over-the-snow vehicle. He’s lending the Sno-Cat to Big Powderhorn this winter, where it’ll be displayed as part of the resort’s golden anniversary celebrations. “It’s kind of a time machine in a way. While things change at the resort, it’s always fun to see things (like this) machine that was originally purchased here and was used at the hill for all those years,” says Bruce Noren, general manager of Big Powderhorn Resort. “Sean has done a beautiful job on it. We’re excited to have it back.”

Noren, who says a listing of Big Powderhorn’s 50th anniversary festivities can be found at, has a long history with the resort himself. He grew up in the area and actually remembers skiing there when Big Powderhorn first opened. “I recall they had a pretty good fleet of Tucker Sno-Cats. I think at the peak there were five or six here at Powderhorn,” Noren says. “They were real workhorses. Back then, it was really the only choice you had to move around the hill when there was marginal snow conditions,” he adds. “Prior to snowmaking becoming what it is today, the guys used to literally shovel snow into the back of those machines from the parking lot snow banks, drive it up onto the hill, push snow out the back, and pack it down with snow scoops and shovels.” Noren says driving a 1960s Sno-Cat was an experience in itself. “If you haven’t ridden in an old Tucker, it’s

“ It was one of those things where it just started, and it didn’t stop. By the time it was all said and done, we had it so far apart, we were looking at it and going ‘I hope we can put it back together.” – Sean Kellar something you need to do. The heat wasn’t all that great in those things; a pretty rough ride. We have it made today in our machines compared to those Tuckers, but boy, they were practically unstoppable. You could sure go through some snow with those.” Kellar lives about six hours away from Big Powderhorn in Fredonia, Wisconsin. He and his Tucker Sno-Cat took part in a small, impromptu vintage groomer ride at the Michigan resort last winter. | Issue 5 | SNOW GROOMING


“We have it made today in our machines compared to those Tuckers, but boy, they were practically unstoppable. You could sure go through some snow with those.” – Bruce Noren

An aerial view of Michigan’s Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort when it first opened in 1965.

According to Noren, it was big success, with people pressing their faces to the resort windows and lining up outside to take cell phone pictures as the classic machines rolled in. That response has Big Powderhorn planning to host a similar event on a bigger scale this winter. “There have been so many different designs of snow grooming equipment, and that kind of amazes people,” Noren says. “They’re used to seeing what’s out there running today, and they think,

Photo courtesy of Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

“Oh, they’re all like that.” And then you see a Tucker, for example, with its four pontoons and those tracks, and the rattling noise it makes as it’s coming up…. They’re just special.”

Restoration Unintentional Kellar’s research into his Sno-Cat’s background indicates it was at Big Powderhorn for a couple of decades, then found homes with a number of snowmobile clubs in Wisconsin. The Tucker ended

Sean Kellar and his dad Marv put in hundreds of hours carefully restoring the 1965 Tucker Sno-Cat.



up grooming trails for Kellar’s local snowmobile club until 2005, when it was purchased by Kellar and his dad. Originally, the plan was to use it to simply putt around in nearby fields, but that changed when the two men started tinkering with the Sno-Cat. “It was never intended to be restored but once we started doing mechanical things to it, it was like, ‘Well, seeing we’re this far, we might as well clean it up and paint it.’ And then you’d take another part off of it… it was one of those things where it just started, and it didn’t stop,” Kellar says. “By the time it was all said and done, we had it so far apart, we were looking at it and going ‘I hope we can put it back together.’” Kellar started going out for rides on the Tucker this past winter and also took it to a few equipment, snowmobile and groomer shows, including the 2013 International Snowmobile Congress in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Kellar, who has a custom-made trailer for hauling his Sno-Cat around, says he does it to promote his local snowmobile club as well as the annual Flag Day held in Kellar’s birthplace, the little town of Waubeka close to his home. Kellar’s research indicates there were only 75 or so machines ever made in

While his 50-year-old Sno-cat may lack the bells and whistles of modern snow groomers, Sean Kellar says the Tucker purrs like a kitten in deep powder.

the Tucker Sno-Cat 300 series — and of these, there may only be 10 to 15 left. Kellar’s old groomer is a living piece of history, and while he has a lot of fun showing it off, he’s quick to point out that driving around in 50-year-old snow groomer isn’t exactly riding in luxury. “It’s such a different time now than it was years ago. Back when that machine was built, you know, men were men, and they could handle a rough ride all day long,” he jokes. “Nowadays,




they have a lot cushier machines with the air ride seats, electronic controls, all that kind of thing.” While the Tucker lacks all the bells and whistles sported by today’s groomers, Kellar clearly has a soft spot for his SnoCat and swears it can really purr in the right conditions. “When you’re on deep powder snow, like I found it out this year, there are no bumps at all. It just glides right over the top of the snow,” he says. “It’s actually quite a fun ride.” ❃

The classic Sno-Cat was stripped down to a bare metal frame during restoration work in 2010-11.

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