Freshies at Mount van Hoevenberg

With the Technoalpin Snowfactory running in full cry, I heeded the siren call to Mount van Hoevenberg for opening day. Leaving right after Thanksgiving dinner, the traffic was relatively easy, and I arrived at my lodging spot around 10:30 PM. After decompressing from the drive, I fell into bed.

mount van hoevenberg snow factory
Snowfactory photo courtesy ORDA/Whiteface Lake Placid

On Friday morning, there was a glistening 1000-meter loop of machine made snow. It might not sound like much, but the Snowfactory was still cranking out crystals as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees.

Perhaps it was a turkey hangover, but van Ho was quiet in the morning: perhaps 8 other skiers were traversing the loop. Among them was two-time Olympian Robert Douglas and his family.

After a few laps around the loop, they headed to the Flatlander loops, where the grooming crew had rolled two inches of natural snow. The Flatlanders were “at your own risk” according to van Ho’s Facebook page.

NYSEF juniors test drive the Snowfactory

Although I’ve skied the cross-country loop at Gore, this was my first experience on 100% machine made snow. The loop had an 18 – 24 inch base of fairly large crystals. In places, especially the little uphill at the far end of the loop, the snow was pretty much mashed potatoes. The down hill heading towards the lodge was decently packed. There was dirt in the snow here and there. All in all I’d call it good early season conditions.

After a half dozen laps, I heeded Douglas’s suggestion and the siren call of the Flatlander. Crossing the stadium was the worst. As you went into the woods, the trails improved. The exposed rocks were easy to avoid.

After skiing the Flatlander Extension, I headed up Campground, which was well covered. As the sun got higher, the snow softened and the trails became a bit more sketchy, so I returned to the machine made loop.

Whiteface at dusk

When I stopped to eat lunch, van Ho began to get busy. Two dozen NYSEF juniors arrived with their coach. People that I see every winter trickled in. I finished skiing 15 miles with my Peru Nordic teammate Joe Korzenecki, who nailed it when he said it’s not just the skiing, it’s the people you’re with.

After putting in a few more miles on Saturday, I headed south back to reality. So, is going around in circles for four hours worthwhile? I turned right so many times, I’m ready to race NASCAR. Everyone’s looking to bliss out on endless trails. But the short loop of soft, coarse snow, and skiing the contours over an inch of packed powder was a great way to focus on form, a cool dichotomy to start ski season. I recommend you give it a shot.

7 comments on “Freshies at Mount van Hoevenberg

  1. Peter, very cool. I have never done XC on man made snow though I have to think that it has be a bit faster since how it is produced? Not sure of that though just a guess.

  2. As I’ve only skied 100% machine made this one weekend, I can’t speculate that artificial snow will generally be faster. I’ve skied Gore’s xc center, where it was a mix of machine made and natural, and it’s quite fast.

    One does have to adjust ski prep because machine made snow is quite abrasive. One should apply glide wax for a temperature range a little bit colder than the ambient temperature. For kick wax, you should be sure to rough up the kick zone with sandpaper and apply a binder before going to the wax of the day.

  3. That tecnnoalpin is pretty amazing. I wonder if they’ll ever get it into a small enough plant to drag it up higher on a mountain. Way to go, Peter. You’re making me more interested in Nordic every time you post.

  4. This looks very cool. Any idea how many skiers showed on Saturday?

    How wide is the track laid down by the factory? I’m wondering if you saw casual or classic skiers and there was any issues with “passing.” In my experience the skaters are usually faster.

  5. @ Harvey: Two people can classic ski side by side, I think it’s just slightly narrow for two people to skate side by side. You could certainly skate next to someone skiing classic. There were several classic skiers, I skied classic on Saturday. No issues with passing.

    Van Ho were still blowing snow and I’m sure they’ll touch up the trail and widen it until the real stuff arrives.

  6. Peter, NASCAR drivers only turn left, not right ?.

    Many years ago very early in the season, I drove up to Placid because Van Ho was supposed to be open, it wasn’t. I ended up going to the golf course where I was told there was enough snow to ski, there was, barely. When I got there, Tod Eastman was already there skiing laps, fresh off a fall season of training on an Austrian glacier with the USA ski team. Hey Ray come on let’s ski, my first day out…….talk about sucking wind, or feel like barfing. What a welcome to the ski season?

  7. Ray, mea culpa. I am aware that they only turn left in NASCAR but it was too good a line to pass up.

    My own memories of Todd Eastman: in Lake Placid, at the Olympic trails for the 1998 Winter Games. He was 40, i.e. the oldest guy at trials, and totally bringing it. More recently, Zach Caldwell recruited him as a rabbit for one of Kris Freeman’s interval workouts and got that on video. May we all ski that fast.

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