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Worst snow season ever in Gander

Nordic Ski Club president Nick Soper has a passion for skiing — well, that is, when the weather allows him.

The “Piston Bully” groomer has bottomed out several times on the Nordic Ski club trails and president Nick Soper is worried the shallow snow areas will cause an injury to a skier or damage the groomer. 

Nick O’Dean photo

The Nordic Ski Club was supposed to host the 2016 Gander Invitational on Feb. 21. Instead, just before the weekend, several days of adverse weather decimated the snow in the area, killing the tournament.

The Gander Invitational has been rescheduled until Saturday, March 19. The same weekend, the club will also hold the Lakeside Loppett on Sunday, March 20.

Soper said while there is significant snow in some areas, there is not in others. That can create severe hazards for people on the trail, as well as the groomer.

He stated the groomer has bottomed out in several spots on the trail and they are afraid of causing damage to the machine.

The 2015-2016 winter season, according to Soper, has been the worst he has experienced with the club and he said there is no other way to describe it other than, “It sucks.”

“It’s beyond disappointing when you are expecting to have a great season and you get nothing. It’s hard on the skiers’ morale and it’s hard on the ski clubs because they get less members,” he said. “We had times during this winter where we lost way too much snow, way too fast.”

Soper said contrary to what most people believe, good ski conditions not only take cold weather and snow, but mild weather as well.

“The best ski base is hard-packed wet snow. If it gets too cold, you don’t get wet snow and you can’t really create a base,” he said. “This causes issues all over. It can’t be groomed properly, it is affected by weather more. It just caused a lot of problems this year.”

Soper said the season is not just bad for skiers, but for snow enthusiasts in general.

“The trails were available for use by snowshoers too, but we just haven’t been getting the numbers. Monday night we turned off the night-time lights because the trails just aren’t being used as much,” he said. “We don’t know when they will be back on. They will be sometime in the future — we jut don’t know if it will be until next season.”

Soper said the Nordic Ski Club members aren’t the only ones feeling the heat.

The 2016 KidsFest ski competition that was to take place in Pasadena this past weekend was cancelled due to the snow quality and a rainy forecast.

Feb. 16 was the last good day of skiing Soper said the club had. He wishes he knew the season was going to end because he would have enjoyed that last day more.

“If I had to have known that was going to be the last real day of skiing for the club, I would have sat back and enjoyed it more instead of treating it like it was any other day,” he said. “I’m hoping that the 2016-2017 season will make up for the lack of one we just had.”



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