First, the exciting, breaking news! Effective on Thursday, November 1st, Duluth Nordic Ski Club (DNSC) has entered into an agreement with Tischer Creek Duluth Building Company, the new property owner, which promises to preserve Snowflake Nordic Ski Center well into the future. Some background: Tischer Creek Duluth Building Company (Tischer Creek) is the entity that owns real estate on behalf of Duluth Edison Charter Schools (North Star & Raleigh). They began the process of buying the property from the developer last Spring. We learned of the pending sale in June, and have enjoyed productive dialog with both Tischer and Edison since then. Our immediate concern was the 2018/19 ski season: would we have one? As dialog developed with Tischer/Edison they became more acquainted with the property: how we use and maintain it; the volume of ski activity in winter and camping in summer; and the affiliations we have with Northland youth programs and non-profits. By September they had become very supportive of having Snowflake as their tenant/neighbor, to our mutual benefit. The result is our receiving a license to operate as we have, skiing in the winter, camping in the summer, Biathlon continuing to train here, and with us retaining exclusive use of the chalet and out-buildings. There are no plans to build the high school. There will be no changes to the trails this season. Next summer the owners will begin development of a parking lot and play area behind North Star Academy. This will be a much smaller footprint than what we expected if a high school were built, and will affect trail segments that we had anticipated losing…but less of it. They have invited us to provide input as the development is planned, and we will restore the continuity of the trail systems as required. During the off-season, North Star students will have full access to the woods and trails for recreation and science classes, etc, and during the ski season they will respect the integrity of the groomed trails. This is, in fact, how we have gotten along during the past three years. We were already good neighbors. Now, we’re friends.

We could not have hoped for a better outcome than this. We have a landlord who values what we do, and is eager to cooperate with us in expanding what we can do for the community. With uncertainty finally behind us, we will move forward with infrastructure repairs and improvements. Just this morning I met with an electrical contractor who will repair the lighting on the Sledding Hill and around the chalet beginning next week. He is also going to survey the damage to the 5K Trail lighting, and prepare a proposal to replace it with energy-smart lighting next summer.

On Saturday, November 10th (Happy Birthday Marines!), in conjunction with the Snowflake Ski Swap, we will host a short public event to mark the beginning of this promising new relationship between DNSC/Snowflake and Tischer Creek/Edison Schools. Time, to be announced.

Other Good News:

Ski Ergs!: Last season, Duluth Nordic purchased four top-of the-line Ski Ergs. Bonnie and Dave have consented to allowing Snowflake Members to use the Ski Ergs! Effective today, the chalet will be open from 8-8, Monday- Friday so that you may use the Ergs. Once East Nordic practices move to Snowflake, the ergs will not be available between 3:30-6 p.m. When you come to use the Ergs, just sign-in at the counter, then go knock yourself out. If you want access to the Ergs on Saturdays, text or call me and we’ll figure out a way to do it.

Snowflake KidSki!: A Kids Ski Program has been a tradition at Snowflake for more than 20 years. This season, DXC has opted to take the program that they run to the new Grand Ave Nordic Center. Winter without KidSki at Snowflake is unthinkable, so we will be running the Snowflake KidSki Program, at Snowflake on Sundays beginning Jan 6, 2019 through Sunday Feb 10th. It will be the same format that we used in previous years, with the Coaches being experienced high school skiers, following established training formats. We will post details on our website by 20 November, as well as a link to online sign-up. Just as Duluth can’t have too many Cross-Country trails, we believe that offering a choice of youth ski instruction is great for parents and fledgling Nordic skiers.

Other News:

Signing-In: Last season we instituted the “Sign-In” requirement. Some folks asked “WHY?”. The first reason is to have some semblance of control over who skis here. Policing Trail Passes hasn’t worked, and the Honor System is a beautiful tradition at Snowflake. Sadly, there’s always that 1%…Just knowing that you’re supposed to sign-in keeps some “renegades” from poaching our trails. The other, more important reason, is to have a record of how many skiers use Snowflake on a daily, weekly, seasonal basis. During the early visits with Tischer and Edison they asked, and were very surprised by the big numbers. Having documented usage, showing that we actually hosted thousands of skiers during the season, was very beneficial as we made our case, and helpful to Tischer Creek/Edison as they sought financing and support for the purchase. So please: Sign-In before you ski; check the Trails Status board for updated info; and if you have something to report about the trails when you are done skiing, come in and tell us, or write it down. It helps.

Looking Back: Despite a low-snow season, Dec-Feb, the cold temps allowed us to preserve our base and we only closed for 3 days in mid-season. Our first grooming was on 4 November, followed by a warm-up, but by Thanksgiving weekend we had more snow than West Yellowstone! The big Spring snowfalls, and solid base allowed us to extend the season into April. We closed segments as the snow melted, but by rerouting trails were able to groom a 3K segment on April 19th, and finally surrendered to the sun on April 24th.

We spent the summer widening several segments on the 10K, focusing on the Fisketti Junction area. Our workers – all members of the East Nordic team – cut and hauled-out a gigantic pile of saplings, as well as debris which we’d cut after the 2016 windstorm. These kids worked like demons, with minimal supervision, and did terrific work. Chief-of-Trails, Jim Wood, and I cleared dozens of trees, many off the trails and others that threatened to fall, and also widened trails. We have opened-up some new connectors between trails, to give skiers options to shorten or lengthen their ski, as well as provide entry/exit points for the groomers or emergency responders. The connectors that create the Perimeter Loop have been widened and improved, which creates a 3rd trail option for skiers. During October, Shawn Higgins brought his Skidster over twice, and we removed dozens of rocks from the trails. You’ll see some giant boulders in the trees next to the trails. This will improve early season grooming and skiing, save your skis, and reduce damage to our mowers and Ginzus.We’ll be out once more next week to add dirt to some holes left by the boulders, and build up low spots.

Looking Forward: The purchase of the Arctic Cat Bearcat XT last year (built for grooming) really helped with our grooming last season, sped-up the process after the “big snows”, and solved the reliability problem with our old Skidoos. This month we await delivery of a Yellowstone Track Systems “Roller/Groomer”, which will improve grooming our base in the early season, improve grooming options during big snowfalls, and allow us to groom both Skate decks and set a Classic track more efficiently.

Thank you for your membership. You keep Snowflake going.

John Graham
The Manager