2001 ABR / CCSAA Grooming Clinic Wrap Up

Thank you for attending the grooming clinic. When we started planning the clinic, last April, we had hoped for 30 attendees. We ended up with 124! The idea was prompted after I attended a grooming clinic at Frisco and Breckenridge Nordic Center, 1400 miles to the west. The clinic cost, with transportation, lodging and hotel, was over $2,000. There were 15 –20 participants, including 3 presenters, and the clinic was 1 ½ days. I still thought what I got out of the clinic was worth it, but I did see a need for a clinic closer to the Midwest.

According to the registration forms, we had 986 years of grooming experience gathered in one room.

We are already planning another clinic for next year, tentative date  Jan 16-17, 2002. We have enclosed an evaluation form to help us improve the clinic, please fill it out and return it. As a wrap up I would like to summarize the events over the clinic and the vendors that attended. Email me if you are interested in future grooming clinics, workshops or publications.

Wednesday started out with 8 inches of fresh snow and about 20 degrees.

9-12, we had on snow demos from Piston Bully with a new  9 foot PB100 and Bachler /YTS Front Renovator, a 9 foot tiller and twin Bachler tracksetters. I also demo’ed  ABR’s  PB 200 with a 12 foot tiller.  Bombardier demonstrated the new BR 180 with a front blade. Snowmobiles and grooming attachments were available for demo during this time.

The Race Building/Wax room was set up with brochures from vendors, product samples, groomer innovations, homemade accessories, a “For Sale Board”  (see below) with used groomers, and  videos playing grooming tapes.

1:00-4:00 we met at the Erwin Town Hall (just down the road) and had a sit down lecture/discussion. Our first speaker was Russ Alger from the Kewenaw Reasearch Center at Michigan Technological University who spoke on “snow” from a technical level and on the research they are doing. KRC has a research tool that compacts snow to .68 density. Paul Swanson spoke on power tilling and on the models of Piston Bully, Eric Peterson spoke on Bombardier. Doug Edgerton of Yellowstone Track Systems and George LeFeuvre spoke on grooming for races and some of their experiences grooming Olympic Events around the world. Eric Anderson of ABR spoke on buying a used snowcat.

4:00-6:00 we returned to ABR and had open grooming and open skiing, the skiing was not too good since most of the grooming demos occurred close to the trailhead!

7:00-10:00 we met at Mama Get’s  Restaurant and enjoyed dinner and drinks we had some casual grooming discussions.


9-11 we observed some on snow demos. Doug Edgerton demonstrated setting tracks in the parking lot with the Bachler/YTS renovator and tracksetter pulled by an Artic Cat Bearcat 550, liquid cooled. With multiple passes a track penetrated the hard pack. Phil Zink of Tidd Tech set tracks with the Trail tenderizer and David Zink of Tidd Tech demo’ed the features of the groomer and the most recent innovations. We also saw the new roller, and packer tracker. Bob Cragin of Cragin Machine demonstrated the Cragin groomer (aluminum) 8 foot wide and 12 feet long weighing only 300 pounds. ABR trails were groomed Thursday AM with  this drag pulled by a SWT . Rick Slade of Ave’s  (Ski-doo Dealership) demonstrated the suspension adjustment on the Ski-doo Skandic SWT and  initiated discussions on steering the SWT.

11-12 Show and Tell, we looked at some homemade drags and accessories brought by participants. Make sure to judge the best homemade idea on the evaluation form.

12-1 lunch consisted of traditional “Yooper Pasties”.

1:00-3:45 Lectures/discussions at the Town Hall. We heard from David Zink of Tidd Tech on early season trail prep and getting the most out of your snow.  Eric Anderson of ABR led a discussion on grooming costs for Snowcats and snowmobile grooming. The final costs were, snowcat grooming $60/hour or $15/mile and snowmobile grooming costs were $5/mile. Eric also spoke on deep snow grooming. Doug Edgerton and George LeFeuvre spoke on setting a good track, while Jim Waters, a physics teacher and classic skier, expressed what makes a good track.

Open skiing was held after the clinic was concluded. I enjoyed a groomer/non-skier (never been on skis) comments as he came in after skiing a 3 km loop with a big smile “it all makes sense now, wow, did I learn a lot on that short loop!”

Other Grooming Clinics/Shows

MSAA Show  Jan 29-31 2001; Vail CO, 651-638-9658

Snowcat Training Class Jan 3-Mar 27th 2001 various classes; Littleton CO 1-800-485-SNOW

CCSAA  Conference and Grooming Show April 8-10, 2001; Homestead Resort, Heber City (Park City) Utah 877-779-2754

ABR / CCSAA Grooming Clinic & Workshop January 16-17, 2002; ABR Trails Ironwood MI 49938 906-932-3502

Some Interesting Ideas on Grooming from the Clinic

Grooming with a snowcat costs $15/mile grooming with a snowmobile costs $5/mile

Groom for 85%  of your customers, you cannot please everyone.

Hard to steer the SWT? Buy $400 aftermarket skis, add weight to the SWT bumper, or adjust the suspension,  there are 3 suspension adjustments.

Use a renovator to mix old and new snow.

Install an actuator on your Tidd Tech, or drag, to snow farm from the sides

To pack 20 inches of snow in 2 passes you need a snowcat and tiller

You need weight, slow speed, and proper snow preparation to set a good track.

Pack track with your snowcat before tilling deep snow.

Snow density measuring is an objective method of determining trail firmness

Spray your equipment with a diluted Anti-freeze mixture to eliminate snow sticking

Extend the exhaust on your snowmobile to exit the rear to eliminate fumes on you

Do not finish groom  (lay corduroy) over a surface that is not compacted properly, it will freeze a superficial layer with a soft layer below. Drag/roll and compact the surface first!

Grooming for races, remember athletes have trained extensively, give them the best course that you can even if it means not sleeping,  and make it a fair course

Use a pintle hitch on your snowmobile and implements

Pack the pole plant area well on striding trails

To set tracks in boiler plate, you need to till, scarify, or renovate to loosen the ice first, then set a track with heavy weight (down pressure) and multiple passes if needed

Snowmaking on Nordic trails is expensive!

NEVER get out of your snowcat with the tiller running!

Keep your classic track out of the brush, a  minimum of  20- 24” is recommended

Grooming for Olympic events, grooming cost is not considered

Mount a 12 volt ATV winch on your snowmobile to lift tracksetters and winch your groomer back on the trail when you get stuck

Artic Cat Bearcats are liquid cooled but do not overheat like liquid cooled Skandics

Bearcats steer better than Skandics

Use wood chips to cover tree roots that radiate heat and melt the snow

Alternate your passes if you groom with a smaller (8-10 foot) snowcat to pack the center

Use SOS (oil sampling) to check equipment for wear & when buying used equipment

Use a shear pin to protect your drags

8 feet is not wide enough for skating and striding

Install carbide studs for grooming on icy conditions

The best grooming is done at night as the temperature is dropping and less skier traffic

If you use hay to cover wet spots, hide it from the deer and elk

Groom when you need to,  not on a regular set schedule

Grooming is an economic decision, make your grooming choices accordingly to survive

Summer service your snowcat and keep it out of the sun