Lyme, NH/Ford Sayre Ski Club
Have you ever seen ants react to an intrusion on their hill? They seem to emerge from every direction and then converge as an army to rebuild. Such as it was in February 26th of 2016 at Satre Hill in Salisbury, CT for the Junior Nationals.
The weather had been terrible for winter sports. Early in the week the hill crew had been blessed with air just cold enough to blow snow. Then came the rain in torrents and 40 degree temperatures. The snow was washing away. On the afternoon of the 25th it looked like all was lost, but there was hope; cold weather was forecast. Plus, the folks at Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) had been smart by stockpiling snow earlier gathered from local parking lots.
By shuffling the schedule with the races coming on Friday and the jumping on Saturday, the Directors believed they could make the Junior Nationals happen. This was about more than finding snow and finding time; this was about tremendous planning and organization.
Like ants they went to work as soon as the temperature dropped the night of the 25th. The snow guns were running. In the early morning of the 26th they also began trucking snow to the top of the jump. Keep in mind that SWSA was hosting the ski races at Mohawk Mountain at the same time that the hill was being brought back from the brink of disaster. It takes an army.
Here’s where it gets interesting. This crew had a truck drive up to the base of the trestle and dump snow into a pile. A skid steer then moved the snow to another pile closer to the top of the jump. It was muddy and access for the truck to the knoll wasn’t possible. After the skid steer dumped the snow, men with shovels quickly scooped the snow into a John Deere forage blower, which was connected to about 60 feet of 18″ plastic culvert placed six feet up on scaffolding. The culvert conveyed the blown snow across the top of the knoll. From there the snow fell down onto sheet plastic which allowed the snow to slide to the base of the hill. As they added more snow, they pulled the sheet plastic higher and higher to snow the hill from the base up. All the while, there was another crew with rakes and shovels working the outrun, a man in a skid steer, and another in the antique Thiokol Hydromaster cat down below.
I have never seen such dedication, ingenuity, and reverence to a sport in my life. They all smiled and they performed, as hill athletes, setting examples for skiers who could only have a vague idea how much effort it took to succeed.