Track XC skiing this winter? No

There will be no cross-country track skiing this winter on the public trail system.

An effort by the town’s recreation department to make a compromise with Mammoth Nordic’s Brian Knox fell through on Tuesday, when Knox turned down flat a compromise proposal.

“Your proposal requiring our volunteer staff to train your staff to professionally operate and maintain Mammoth Nordic’s grooming equipment is a commitment, in the middle of this winter, I regrettably cannot make,” Knox wrote in a letter to the Recreation Commission.

Knox did not slam the door all the way on next winter, however
“Your proposal also requires Mammoth Nordic to lease our equipment to the Town for $1 a year. This concerns us, given the precedent it will set during future discussion about obligations Mammoth Nordic must make to sustain a Community Nordic Trails program next winter and every winter thereafter.”

In the wake of Knox’s November announcement that Mammoth Nordic would no longer set tracks and groom a nine-mile network of trails, Knox, Recreation Director Stuart Brown and the forest service’s then-ranger Jon Reggelbrugge met on Nov. 19 and again on Dec. 12 to see if there were a compromise that would satisfy all involved.

On Jan. 25, Brown sent Knox a proposal to save track skiing, asking if it were possible for the town to take over the job.

In the proposal, Brown suggested that because of staffing issues, tracks would be laid down three times a week as opposed to the daily grooming that Mammoth Nordic had last winter.

Brown also asked that Knox’s crew might help train the town staff in operating the track-laying machine, affectionately known as “The Nordoni.”

Knox rejected both proposals.

“Training your staff to safely operate our equipment is no small task,” he said. “To train your staff to operate our groomer in a way that minimizes wear and tear while putting down excellent Nordic trail conditions is equally daunting.

“We set track from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. or from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on a daily basis,” he said. “ Your recommendation of three days a week falls short of the level of service we believe the public expects and deserves.”

The commission members all expressed dismay at what looked very much like the denouement for this year’s public track skiing.

“We all tried pretty hard to make this work,” Brown said, “and it didn’t work out.”

Cross-country track skiing is still available – for a price – at the Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center, situated in the Lakes Basin and operated by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.