Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snow Farming Meltdown

Last weekend was not a good weekend weather wise for snow retention. Before this past weekend, we enjoyed about 4 weeks of early season skiing. The base remained constant but provided some great skiing. About 2 weeks out from the meltdown, I saw some indicators that it could get warm. Maybe it wouldn't but had to assume it would. I beginning clearing snow from fields, the basketball court, our deck, our patio not before starting with the ice rink that had snow from Thanksgiving that hadn't been cleared. Focused on about 5km of trail that was mostly skaters waltz. I wasn't going to blog this but Jonell said I should document it and hopefully I can look back down the road and say "glad I don't have to do that again".

God willing, I will never own a snowblower. I can't stand the things. When I clear the ice rink, I use my skates and 3" or less can knock out in 20 minutes. It's a great workout and I get the ice relatively "clean".
With the snow that was on the rink, I was able to get three pickup loads.

The pickup loads went near the start and big south facing slope hill "kamikaze" on skaters waltz.
Pulling snow from a field.
 Don Camp (above) passing through from West Yellowstone training camp to Michigan. During the four weeks we had skiable snow, just a few people came out to ski. Quite honestly, it was disappointing how few people came out skiing. The majority of people were from out of state!   We had just one skier from Detroit Lakes and no ski team members. Quite a change from years past where local hs kids would be ecstatic to be skiing on the snow we had. With Detroit Mountain opening up, the ski team has been skiing there and also pulling local skiers.
Hard not to look back to a year ago. Grooming exactly one year ago from the photo above of Don.
Taking snow off the court. Taking advantage of the moonlight during the short day.
Spreading another pickup load on kamikaze hill.

Grooming it out later in the day.

Building up the start area.
After a week of hauling snow in the truck, I walked along 80% of the trail, shoveling what snow there  was to the middle.

Where there was more snow to work with, I used sleds.

Fog and frost moving in. The frost was beautiful on the trees before it got to warm to convert the frog to frost.
Taking snow from the deck.
Istevan from South Dakota driving up 6 hours one way for a day of skiing.
Saturday morning the coverage was still very good and had a awesome Saturday morning ski. But from 10am that morning to Sunday evening, the temp only went up and never cooled down.

We had to cancel a ski camp with 200 kids from four different teams. Major bummer. It was tough to stomach the warm weather after all that shoveling but thankful for the good skiing days before the melt. Jens's home hockey tournament and a lot of ping pong games with Jon helped ease the torture. Ha!

Monday morning after it finally cooled down, went out for a run to check out the scene. It was not pretty. The upside is that that some of the melt froze to a solid base.

This slope had a lot of snow transport but just couldn't hang on.

Next night we had a dusting but not enough to groom or even ski. At least it is white!

Weather pattern looks bit more favorable next 2 weeks. All it will take is 3-4" to get gliding again. Soon it will come!! Think Snow!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Road

Having two kids in hockey means lots of road trips to catch some of the games. Jon is in his second year of high school hockey which means less games and travel with the team on a bus. Jens in first year Pee Wees and the number of games has bumped up from last year. So far has worked out good this year that most of the farther away games on weekends we have been before we crank up big time (hopefully) for the winter season. 

 Heading up to Lake of the Woods a few weekends ago, saw this guy riding through the deep woods near Itasca State Park.
 Went on east side of Red Lake which I've never been to before. Walked on the ice a bit to check out the fish houses in the distance. (Later that weekend I was talking to a Canadian and he called them fish Shacks")
 Facing off vs Lake of the Woods. Never been in the arena before. Home of Keith Ballard, currently playing for the Wild. Kind of a ugly game but a win is a win and the Lakers came up victors by a score of 3-1.
 JV players selling chuck a pucks.
 LOW had some success in the earlier years, most recently in 2004 vs Warroad.

Saturday morning stopped by Zippel Bay State Park  to check out conditions before going to Warroad. I skied here a few years ago when Jon was playing in tourney in Warroad. It wasn't groomed but enough snow for a nice ski. Sleet earlier in the morning made for FAST conditions. The best part was checking out the ice formations on the shore were most interesting. Looked like mini volcanoes. Full trail report:

 Saturday afternoon game vs Warroad. Probably one of my favorite rinks to watch a game in MN. Bigger sheet of ice and chance for the wheels to get moving on the speedy guys. The Lakers made it a good game behind some fantastic goaltending by the Laker net minder. Despite getting outshot, had the lead for a portion of the game but couldn't capitalize on its scoring chances to lose 2-3.
 Jon catching up with his buddy Luke Jaycox. One of the top D man in the state and very fun to watch.
 Grandpa Jim working the locals for area knowledge.
 Warroad Gardens probably the top arena in the state and probably country for that matter, that I have seen, for displays of the history of the local area hockey. Warroad rich in tradition with the legendary Warroad Lakers, the Olympians and Christian Hockey bros, to name a few. Had a chance to meet one of the Marvins after the game and one of the friendliest hockey persons I have met. The Marvin family doing incredible things for the town of Warroad and hockey.
 Next weekend was a day trip to Duluth on Saturday on a rare day off for everyone to visit Jake. It was a quick trip but good times like always when we are all together.
 Took a visit to the zoo. The last time we took the kids to the zoo, we were pretty much a mobile exhibit if you know what I mean. Doesn't matter where we go, always some good memories and thats what it is all about.
 Who puts a crow in a zoo?!?!

The trip was planned to bring Jens to his game on Sunday in Crosby, half way home . Fun game for Jens and his Pee Wee A team, going to OT with Jens getting a hat trick on the overtime winner. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Another great Thanksgiving with family and friends. We had 52 people this year!

Always a treat to be able to ski on Thanksgiving. Quick morning jaunt.

Boys with cousins on Jonell's side.

My sister's boys.

Jonell did an awesome job once again setting and decorating for the day of giving thanks.
Carving the bird.

The appetizers. A meal in itself with everyone contributing. Much to be thankful for.
2:1 ratio on the mashed potatoes to gravy. Will never run out again....
Money ball.

Shinny hockey in the basement.
Mr. sign guy Rick checked out.

We missed Jake again who was at a training camp with his St Scholastica Nordic team in Houghton, MI.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Laddies Loppet 2015

I've been getting a few messages regarding Laddies Loppet for 2015. Maplelag Resort will be hosting the race once again for the 25th version on Labor day weekend 2015! The biggest change is we will not be part of the Minnesota series. Below is text from the Maplelag site that was posted about a month ago:

 Laddies Loppet 2015 will be the 25th anniversary!! We are excited to celebrate many years of great racing, old school course and most importantly…the people who have supported the Loppet over the years!! We are returning to our grass roots beginnings, offering a different format of events than recent years with two race distances on Saturday and short track racing and other events on Sunday. More specific details will be posted once planning has been finalized but expect the usual fun riding and racing in a great family atmosphere with home cooked meals and down to earth scene. We will no longer be a part of the Minnesota series and want to thank all those involved with the series for their tireless efforts to promote and maintain a wonderful mountain bike series, one of the best in the country, for riders in the Midwest. Keep the wheels moving!!

Racing has changed in recent years and it is all good with more people getting in to the sport and all different types of trails, trending more towards the flow or purpose built trail. We feel we are a bit unique with the course at Maplelag and "flow" of the weekend. As mentioned above, we wanted to go back to the grass roots feel like we were when we started. Operating a privately owned family resort the last few years has changed. Escalating operating costs from increased added and excess taxes. We receive no outside assistance for trail building or maintenance and handle it all internally. We want to continue to provide the same things like a free t-shirt with registration and be able to comp all team riders and other folks that we feel deserve a free entry. It isn't about the money but we do need to at least break even. Stepping away from the series will allow us to do some things differently to make the break even point but still provide some great racing on old school type trails during a unique race weekend atmosphere. I've been building some new trail this fall I hope to include in next years version that is different than the usual trail built at Maplelag that should add a nice mix to the current loop. Longer endurance type events has see the biggest growth in mountain bike racing and we are going to venture in to this with the 25th version. 
Exciting short track racing will return, this time on Sunday. Honoring requests from riders and mixing things up again. Matt Johnson was a big help with last years event, lining up some new sponsors and helping promote the race and all our sponsors. Matt is back to help again and we look forward to another awesome weekend! Matt has experience running a bike shop, racing and managing a race team and has a load of experience. There aren't many days that go by I don't think about the event, mainly with the course and what not but mainly all the people I have met over the year from racing. Having the race has been priceless and the main reason why we want to keep the event going. With that said, thanks to all the riders, family, friends and sponsors that have supported us over the years. Devoted to keep the wheels moving!