Run to Support Snowmaking at Mt. Itasca!
On July 21st, at 9 am, the Mt. Itasca Nordic Ski Association will be hosting a 5K Road Race at the Itasca County Fairgrounds in Grand Rapids (registration from 8:00-8:55 am). All proceeds will go to support snowmaking at Mt. Itasca.
The meager snowfall of this past winter reminded us of the critical role snowmaking plays in our snow-sports lifestyle and economy. Without the man-made snow at Mt. Itasca, hundreds of skiers, snowboarders, and tubers would have been out of luck. Mt. Itasca became a haven for cross-country ski and biathlon races and training. The Minnesota Youth Ski League was able to host weekly sessions to hone the skills of beginning and young skiers. Everyone benefitted.
Are you interested in how it’s done? Some of you have probably seen the snow guns blowing on the hill or trail out at Mt. Itasca. Snow guns use dozens of small nozzles to atomize the water into a fine mist. The water droplets are then blown into the air by a powerful fan. The critical component is the weather: snow guns can make snow in temperatures as high as 28 degrees Fahrenheit, but the colder the temperature and the lower the humidity, the better. In very cold, dry weather—like below zero—snow guns can really crank out the white stuff. For that reason, it is often advantageous to make snow at night.
Water for snowmaking is drawn from a pond at Mt. Itasca, and pushed up hundreds of meters of pipeline that goes up the hill and out on the trails. Multiple hydrants and electrical power outlets are located at various points on the trails or on the hills allowing access to the critical elements of water and electricity. Snow guns can then be positioned strategically to make snow throughout the trail system or on the hill as needed.
The problem from the perspective of nonprofit organizations like those at Mt. Itasca is that snowmaking is expensive. In addition to the significant capital expense of the snow guns and related snowmaking equipment (hoses, pumps, hydrants, pipes, etc.), electric bills are huge during the big months of snowmaking. It takes a lot of energy to change water from a liquid to a solid. And of course, since snowmaking is a cold weather activity, physical deterioration of equipment is accelerated.
So while much of our snowmaking is accomplished by a dedicated crew of volunteer snowmakers who put up with the ridiculous hours and often-miserable cold, we need financial resources to continue to ensure quality snow in all kinds of winters.
So come on out and support us at the 5K Run for Snow! It’s never too early to start dreaming about snow! Call race organizer Petra Cervenka at 218-999-5046 with questions.