If you’ve been checking the Rendezvous Ski Trails webcam every five minutes this week, you’re not alone. The West Yellowstone Ski Festival and opening SuperTour races are scheduled to begin next week and maximum trial cover currently holds at four inches. For the athletes and teams planning to spend their Thanksgiving break at one of the biggest ski events of the year, such conditions are increasingly concerning.
Four inches is not enough to groom and not enough to race on, but on Thursday afternoon NOAA forecasted a 30 per cent chance of snow over several days that could add up to a few inches by Monday. As of Thursday morning organizers plan to run all events as scheduled, but things could change depending on the weather as race day approaches. The organizing committee plans to meet on Friday at noon to assess snow conditions and “A, B and C contingency plans,” and will convene again throughout the weekend.
“At this point we’re doing everything we can to make the races happen,” Dow said.
That currently involves holding off on course grooming and exploring every possible scenario and alternative. The South Plateau, which are not part of the race venue but could become so if the need arises, has about five inches as of Thursday and is skiable on rock skis.
In order to create race-quality groomed trails, Dow said they want to see eight to ten inches of total coverage, and “probably a little more if we want to set a classic track.”
“The more you groom it and compact it, the more it deteriorates. We want to maintain the best quality snow possible,” she said.
Athletes have already started arriving in West Yellowstone, and some have skied on the thinly-covered trails this week. Dow suggested the Yellowstone National Park roads as an alternative off-ski training option, as the roads are quiet and closed to car traffic for the season.
Some people have already called to cancel their Festival plans. As the event draws near, Dow says she has been working to keeping communication frequent and up to date on the Festival website about weather and conditions that are beyond anyone’s control.
“We’re waiting,” begins a Thursday grooming report. “waiting for snow, waiting to see what’s coming…waiting, waiting, waiting.”