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Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Season-ending Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers Report

The 2012/2013 Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers' season officially came to an end on March 21, 2013, as Paul Wells, Richard Neumann, Dave DeBack, Dan Ferrara and Zolton Cohen moved the snow grooming equipment into storage for the summer. 

It was a tough year for cross country skiers in this area, as there wasn't sufficient snow to start grooming the course at Milham Park Golf Course until after the middle of January.  After that, chief groomer Richard Neumann said he only had the opportunity to groom ten times, putting 150 miles on the snowmobile. 

Despite the dismal snow accumulation, donations this season totaled $246.82.  Thank you to all who donated! Your contributions help keep gas and oil in the snowmobile and also pay for any needed repairs. 

Expenses this season totaled $193.07.  $108.60 went to gas and oil, the rest was for storage of the equipment ($50) and web hosting.  Currently, there is $492.28 in the KNS savings account and $335.00 in checking, for a total of $827.28.  That gives us enough operating capital to get a good start on next year's endeavor - whenever the snow depth reaches six inches..

Thank you to all who helped out this year with donations and moving the equipment to and fro, as well as to Milham Park Golf Course, the venue for the operation.  Thanks as well go to Jeff Newman at Newman IT, for hosting the KNS website and manning the organization's information technology needs. 

Finally, special recognition goes to Richard Neumann, who did all the grooming this year, spending many, many hours on the noisy, smelly snowmobile to bring top-quality skate ski and inline cross country snow grooming to the Kalamazoo area.  If you get a chance to speak to Richard between now and the start of the next ski season, let him know how much you appreciate his efforts!

Respectfully submitted, Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Yearend Wrap-up Report

There is a reason one wag suggested we change the name of the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers to the Kalamazoo Optimists Club.  We kept wishing for snow this year and it only appeared sporadically.  And then it melted quickly. 

So, there wasn't much in the way of cross country skiing at the Milham Park Golf course this winter.  But when enough snow fell that we could groom, head groomer Richard Neumann got right on it, and conditions were as good as they could be.  You had to be quick to enjoy it though, as the good snow never lasted very long. 

Richard said he groomed a total of 11 times this winter, and put 217 miles on the snowmobile.  We spent $105.51 on gas and storage for the equipment for the summer, and took in $415.37, leaving us with a total in the treasury of $836.91 to get us started next year. 

Thank you to all the people who donated to keep this project going, and to those of you who came out and enjoyed what skiing there was to be had. 

Thank you, too, to the managers of the Milham Park Golf Course who have really extended themselves to make us feel welcome.  If you golf at Milham in the summer, let the employees know that you're also a skier, and that you appreciate the fact that there is cross country ski venue available out there in the winter. 

And, finally, thanks go to Richard Neumann, who has devoted so many hours breathing the fumes of a smelly snowmobile so we can all ski.  Richard works at Breakaway Bicycles.  So if you do any business there, be sure to look him up and thank him personally.  He, more than anyone, is the person who is responsible for keeping this project going. 

The only thing we can do is hope for better snow conditions next winter.  See you then.

Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

     Let's Ski!

Today, January 3, 2012, Richard Neumann, Dan Ferrara, Paul Wells, Dave DeBack and Zolton Cohen moved the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers snowmobile and grooming equipment from storage to the Milham Park Golf Course. 

Although only 4-6 inches of snow is on the ground at the golf course, Richard made an initial pass with the roller/groomer in order to crush air out of the snow where the ski trail will run.  It remains to be seen today if the other equipment can be used to set the skate ski lane; it is certain, however, that there is insufficient snow at present to set a classic ski track. 

On a scouting visit to the golf course recently, Richard said he noticed that, due to some landscaping changes, the ski trail route will need to be changed in several areas.  This, however, should not materially affect the skiing or the enjoyment of those who use the venue. 

Thanks go to Dan Ferrara for performing not only yearend maintenance on the snowmobile, but also for changing its drive belt.  It started on the first pull this morning, in 24 degree weather.  Additional thanks go to Richard for organizing and doing the bulk of the grooming work over the past several years.  It is a time-consuming process, and he has labored in order that others might benefit..


     Yearend Wrap-up Report

Although the snow took its sweet time arriving in Kalamazoo this past cross country ski season, once it got here it stayed and stayed.  We couldn't even begin grooming at Milham Park Golf Course until January 8, 2011; a full month later than last year's startup date.  But the season lasted, with very few warm-ups along the way, until early March. 

Much of that longevity was due to an unusual string of cold, sub-32-degree days.  But it also had to do with the KNS corps of dedicated volunteer snow groomers, who learn more with each passing year about how to get the most out of the snow and the grooming equipment.  Please go out of your way to thank Richard Neumann, Dave DeBack, Paul Wells and Dan Ferrara for the stellar job they do to keep the trails open and groomed.  It takes between two to four hours to groom the course - and these volunteers were at it nearly every day this winter. 


Despite the fact that the donation signs never even made an appearance on the golf course this winter, the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers received some generous donations to keep gas and oil in the snowmobile and for repair expenses.  Skiers donated primarily through the Newman IT Solutions-hosted KNS website, at  But the club also received checks and cash dropped off at Breakaway Bicycles and the clubhouse at Milham Park Golf Course.  Thank you to all who donated!

We received enough to repay the last of the loans made to the club several years ago by Paul Wells and Zolton Cohen ($100 each).  So that takes those off the books.  And the expenses were quite low because the equipment needed no repairs.  The only outlays this season were $66.25 for gas and oil, $10 for renewing the club's DBA documentation, and $50 for storage for the equipment.  Here are the numbers:

Donations received: $577

Expenses, including repayment of loans: $276.25

At season's end, the KNS treasury stands at $622.59 - just enough to avoid the $5 monthly service fee charge for accounts at the credit union that fall under $500. 

So we're in good shape, and will be ready to start grooming again when the snow starts to fall next winter…

Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

     And We're Off!

Winter has kicked in again ("Let it snow!"), and the grooming equipment has been moved into place. We've had yet another warm reception at the Milham Park Golf Course, so the the only major change from last year we're hoping for is more snow! Get out your equipment, wax those skis, do your snow dance, and join us for the fun. Check back often to see the local weather and the updated ski condition reports. See you out on the trail!


     Season End Report

Unseasonably mild weather in early March 2010 brought an abrupt end to the 2009/2010 cross country skiing season at Milham Park Golf Course.

Up until that sudden thaw the Kalamazoo area had reasonably good snow for most of the winter, and volunteer snow groomers from the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers were able to keep a skate ski lane groomed on the course for most of the season. Classic ski track requires deeper snow to set, so their appearance was a matter of hit or miss - entirely dependent on the depth of the snow cover.

Expenses for the season totaled $614.29. $50 went for storage of the snowmobile and groomers. $200 each was paid to Zolton Cohen and Paul Wells as partial repayment for loans they made to the organization in 2009. Those loans helped purchase the Sno-Razor attachment for the snow groomer.

Other expenses were:

$94.42 - oil and gas
$10.02 - new keys to the golf course storage building
$32.97 - website hosting
$26.88 - replacement carburetor hoses

There is $135.31 left in the treasury to get the 2010/2011 season started next winter.

Richard Neumann was again the primary volunteer groomer for the ski venue, and he deserves thanks for the many hours he put in behind the wheel of the sled. In good weather and bad, Richard showed up to groom the course, and many benefited from his efforts.

Paul Wells, Dave DeBack and Dan Ferrara also took turns grooming.

Thanks also go to the Kalamazoo City Parks and Recreation Department for allowing KNS to the groom the course, as well as the staff of Milham Park Golf Course, whose cooperation insured a successful ski season.

Thank you to those who contributed $586.51 this season to the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers. Your donations helped pay expenses this year and ensure there will be a 2010/2011 cross country ski venue once again in Kalamazoo.

See you when the snow flies!

Winter 2009/2010

     It's a start...

The Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers are pleased to report that the first tracks have been set and skate ski grooming has taken place at Milham Park Golf Course. Dave DeBack and Paul Wells did four passes this morning with various pieces of equipment. Wells said it is not a "great" job yet, but it kicks off the season. And as he, DeBack, and others groom the course in the days ahead the trail will improve.

Winter 2008/2009

     So far this season...

Our thanks go to Richard Neumann, Dan Ferrara, Paul Wells, Mike Teal, and Dave DeBack, who devote many hours over the course of the ski season to groom the ski track at Milham Park Golf Course. Without their hard work, dedication - and yes, suffering in the cold wind while piloting the snowmobile for 2-3 hours at a stretch - there would be no groomed cross country ski venue in Kalamazoo.

Winter 2006/2007

     Season in Review

The 2006/2007 Nordic ski season arrived with everything, finally, in place for the Kalamazoo Nordic Ski group. Several volunteers retrieved the snowmobile from the pole barn where it had been stored over the summer. The new groomer, purchased in the fall, was assembled, greased, and ready to go. Keys were acquired and duplicated for access to the gate and a building on the Milham Park Golf Course site where the equipment was being stored. Bob Kennedy got the snowmobile ready to run. The Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association was onboard with granting permission to groom the golf course. And in early December it even started to snow.

Though the snow started early in the season, and was encouraging to see at first, it was light, fluffy lake effect stuff; and not enough fell for grooming purposes. December's snowfall melted as the temperature climbed into the 40's, and not until the third week in January did the Lake Michigan "snow machine" start back up again.

As soon as there was six inches on the ground, Bob Kennedy and other volunteers hooked the snowmobile to the new groomer and made the first grooming runs around the golf course. After a few adjustments to the equipment, it became apparent that KNS had chosen well in purchasing the new groomer. It not only packs the snow evenly, it also leaves a uniform "corduroy" track in its wake - perfect for "skate" or "freestyle" skiing. And its design allows a relatively rapid grooming pace.

After packing and grooming the skating lane, Kennedy hooked up the "inline" or "classic" tracking plate and pressed tracks into the snow on both sides of the skating trail. After the first week, Dan Ferrara joined Kennedy in sharing the grooming duties, and the venue was freshened and regroomed nearly every day thereafter until the weather warmed up again.

Despite frigid temperatures and windy conditions in late January and early February, many people came out to enjoy cross country skiing on the groomed course. A troop of Girl Scouts even fulfilled requirements for their winter outing badges by negotiating a loop one Saturday morning.

Despite the very late start and bitter cold, what there was of the 2006/2007 ski season was a success. KNS learned a lot about grooming and the new equipment, and will be prepared to put the knowledge and experience gained to use next winter when the snow again begins to fall.

Total grooming expenses for the year were $39.68. Storage for the equipment over the summer is $50.00. At present the KNS treasury contains $167.85.

February 12, 2007:

     Parking Instructions

Please park in the lower parking lot on Lover's Lane when you use Milham Park Golf Course for skiing or sledding - not the upper parking lot by the Golf Course Clubhouse. Employees of the golf course must lock the gate at certain times of the day. Your car could be trapped inside the upper lot if you happen to be out on the course when the gate must be secured.

February 11, 2007:

     A request of dog owners.

The groomed trail at Milham Park Golf Course is intended and groomed for the use of cross country skiers. Please respect the efforts of those who have organized and funded this venue by not walking or allowing dogs to run on the packed track. Dogs contribute to conditions that deteriorate the trail surface, and they can cause injury to skiers.

February 9, 2007:

     Milham Park Golf Course groomed for classic style as well.

With the last grooming, the skate track is now about 8 feet wide, and there are classic tracks set off both sides of the skate path. As of Sunday, the trail was still in good condition, although apparently well enjoyed over the weekend.

January 29, 2007:

     Milham Park Golf Course has been groomed for cross country skiing.

This afternoon we met at the Milham Park Golf Course to finally put all the pieces of our cross country ski venue project together. Despite a few snafus - which included not remembering to bring the key to the snowmobile - we got everything up and running, and we tracked a nice trail around the perimeter of the course.

So, we're finally grooming. My advice is to take advantage of it whenever you can; winter has shown its capricious nature this year, no?

As to the details, the new snow groomer we purchased this fall worked very well on the newly fallen snow. After we got it adjusted correctly, it crunched all the air out of the snow nicely and laid down a smooth, "corduroy" track surface. I skate skied around the loop five times this afternoon, and in the places where the snow was originally the deepest, the grooming was equivalent to what I've experienced at places like Love Creek and Pigeon Creek. So, very good indeed.

Under some of the trees there are walnuts and branches that poke out through the snow, but I think we can adjust where the route goes next time we groom to avoid the worst of that. And on my first loop I did a bit of trail maintenance and picked up what I could find of the debris and tossed it to the side. That's a good idea for anyone else who uses the trail, by the way. It helps preserve the snow for as long as possible.

Inline skiers might be disappointed to not find a track set for that type of skiing. We don't yet have the tracking plate at the golf course yet, but hope to get it this week. And we really need to wait for more snow before we can use it. With the air crushed out of the snow, the skating track compressed down to about an inch to two inches; trying to set classic track in that amount of snow would mean that we'd tear up the grass on the golf course. But the skating track is fun to inline on too. If you do classic skiing, it's best to stay over to one side of the track or the other. That way your tracks won't get wiped out and skied over by the fanatical skate skiers out there.


© Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers Photographs by Zolton Cohen Site & Hosting by NewmanIT