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Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Season Wrap-up Report

This report will reflect this winter's exceedingly brief ski season; it will be short.

An abundant snowfall in mid-January, along with cold and wind, provided our only chance to create a groomed ski venue.  We got right on it and did what we could for as long as it lasted, setting both skate and ski trails.  Many people got out and enjoyed themselves skiing.  Then, six or seven days later, temperatures soared, rain fell, and the snow melted away.

And that was it.

Despite the truncated season, our donors stepped up in a big way.  Between online donations through the website and the cash tube on the golf course, $518.22 came into the club's coffers.  Expenses were $110.00 for hosting the website and $36.50 for gasoline for the snowmobile.  The treasury now stands at $2017.92.

We have adequate monies to get a great start when the snow starts to fall again.  We have manpower (groomers Dave and Richard) to pack the snow into shape.  And we have good equipment in good condition ready to go.  All we need is snow.

Let's hope we get some next season.  We're due.

Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Season Wrap-up Report

On March 8, 2023, Dave DeBack, Paul Wells and Zolton Cohen put the snow groomers away in the shed for the summer, added Stabil fuel storage stabilizer to the snowmobile's gas tank, started its engine one last time and then plugged the battery charger into the sled's onboard battery.

In many respects, that routine was a typical bit of maintenance done at the conclusion of each cross country ski season.  Overall, however, this year was like no other in recent memory.

Hopes were high in late November when the area was hit by a major snowstorm.  That snow melted quickly, but then another atmospheric clipper deposited a decent amount of precipitation around Christmas.  Unfortunately, that also quickly disappeared.

And that was pretty much it for the season; two good snows, subsequent rapid melting, and then nothing but bare ground for months.  We groomed when we could and tried to make the most of what fell, but we just didn't have anything to work with.

On the bright side, many skiers who appreciate the club's efforts to produce a groomed ski venue were undeterred in supporting the cause.  Donations via the website, the on-site donation tube and through the mail amounted to $391.50.  Expenses were $41.93, for gas.  After expenses and donations were accounted for the club treasury totals $1,640.04.

Bob Kennedy, one of the founding members of the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers, once labeled the organization "The Kalamazoo Optimists Club." It is true that we're always anticipating better snow conditions, and especially so after a season like we endured in 2022-2023.  There is always next year, and we will be ready when the snow arrives.  The thought around here is that we're due for a dramatically improved experience. 

Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Season Wrap-up Report

The 2021-2022 cross country ski season at Milham Park Golf Course is officially in the books.  While it started late and lasted only a few weeks (a trend that seems to be increasing over time), for what it was - and for the comparative dearth of snow that fell - it wasn't too shabby. 

Both skate and classic skiers periodically enjoyed excellent trail conditions, and the new interior classic loops garnered a lot of positive feedback.  So did several key modifications of the skate ski trail to avoid the hump along Lover's Lane and the sharp righthand turn at the bottom of the steep hill.  The club is learning how to take advantage of more of the golf course with its grooming and will build on that knowledge base in the future.

Similarly, the volunteer groomers are gaining more experience with the intricacies of using the Razor attachment on what is known as the Ginzu groomer - a process that has been hampered by the lack of snow depth, which curtails experimentation with different settings.

Special thanks go to groomers Dave DeBack, Richard Neumann, Tom Nehil and Paul Wells for spending many hours on the snowmobile, making pass after pass on the course to optimize it for skiers of all abilities.  Without their commitment there would be no groomed ski venue in this region. 

Big thanks also go to all the individuals who donated to keep the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers organization financially fit.  Overall, donations totaled $1,707.96.  $670.21 of that was in cash from the donation tube and $1,037.75 via the website.  Those monies allowed the club to pay off the remaining $800 of the $3,000 loan that was secured last year to build the on-site lean-to where the snowmobile and grooming equipment is stored.  Expenses this season for gas, oil and a new battery for the sled amounted to approximately $250, leaving the treasury with $1,170 with which to start the new season in the fall.  We'll see you all then, when we're all anxious to see flakes falling from the sky. 

Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Season Wrap-up Report

On March 9th, 2021, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers volunteers put final touches on the season by 'summerizing' the snowmobile and storing the grooming equipment in the club's new lean-to at the Milham Park Golf course.

It was an eventful fall and winter, capped by ideal (though quite late) snow and cold that resulted in weeks of great skiing and grooming conditions.  Hundreds of enthusiasts took to the course and were able to enjoy both classic and skate skiing.  Donations from those skiers are the lifeblood of the organization, and this year's contributions were timely, substantial, and much appreciated.  An all-volunteer enterprise, 100% of donations received by KNS go directly into gas and oil to run the sled, as well as maintenance, repairs, and upgrades to the grooming equipment.  A big thank-you goes out to all those who contributed to making this season - in a challenging time in world history - such a success. Kudos go to groomer Dave DeBack, who conceptualized, fabricated, and mounted the new donation tube onto an existing building at the golf course.  The tube enabled and encouraged skiers to donate to the grooming operation without having to go online to do so.  It proved to be popular with skiers using the venue.

Additional expenses in the fall of 2020, outlined in a previous post, included the necessity of building a storage lean-to on the golf course and a major snowmobile engine rebuild.  The club secured a loan to cover those costs, and donations received this season enabled the club to repay more than 2/3 of the debt.  With good snow next year (and subsequent donations) the remainder of the loan, $800, should be able to be retired.  With all outstanding expenses paid for this year, the club treasury currently stands at $535.05, an amount that will enable a good start-up next winter.

One accomplishment of note was finally getting to the bottom of the snowmobile's electric start problem.  It is a big, heavy machine, and having to pull-start the cold engine was taxing the club's volunteer grooming force.  Jeff Newman did the legwork on diagnosing the issue and ordering the repair parts; now the sled starts and runs the way it should.  And, although it still takes a huge commitment of time and energy from the groomers to groom the trails, at least they aren't being worn to a frazzle by having to hand-crank the engine to life.

Groomers this year included Dave DeBack, Richard Neumann, Paul Wells, Tom Nehil and Greg Worsnop.  The club is grateful to these gifted and dedicated volunteers who work so hard to create the ski trails on the site.  Thank you!

Finally, we have received word that, because of many requests from the public, the golf course management will secure a rental fleet of skis, boots, and poles for next season.  That means skiers should be able to rent ski equipment in a one-stop process right on the grounds of the golf course.  This is a huge step in making the Milham Park ski venue a destination site that will attract outdoors-minded people from all over the city and the region.  We will have more information on this exciting news as it becomes available.

Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

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