“Along the Ski Trails” Column by Don Metivier
The Glens Falls area demonstrated this week that community effort still works.
Faced with the problem of no snow on the Crandall Park ski trails, a unique solution was formulated and carried out.
Mike Brandt of West Mountain Ski Area turned on his snow guns and made a new mountain at West Mountain. This huge pile of machine-made snow was given to the City of Glens Falls.
Tuesday morning men and equipment from the Department of Public Works moved in and started moving the snow the six miles to Crandall Park.
The men soon caught the enthusiasm and were all talking ski racing and about the meaningful contribution they were making toward the third annual Glens Falls International Ski Race.
The snow was moved, spread and smoothed and where there had been ice and pine needles in Crandall Park there soon was a well groomed cross country trail.
When it became apparent that Glens Falls was indeed going to have its race, despite any lack of natural snow, the field increased. While housing for 28 skiers and coaches had been arranged, housing for more than 50 was needed. In hours more than enough persons had volunteered their homes to visitors.
A place was needed for an awards dinner and the Queensbury School Board met Tuesday night and volunteered the cafetorium at the elementary school.
Food and other items were needed for the dinner, and donations came in the way of food from kitchens where women baked pies or made salads and from area restaurants.
Volunteers were plentiful to run the race Thursday night. Area track coaches do the timing, former Olympian Tom Jacobs and Bill Parks who runs the Recreation Department cross country program, work on the track and the other hundred details necessary for an international race.
Other groups such as the Glens Falls Skibummers, the National Ski Patrol, the Family YMCA and private and businessman volunteers take care of the other problems.
Somehow, by Thursday night, everything seems to come together and once again the visiting skiers—called by the U.S. Ski Association the best Nordic field for any race in the country this year—perform well on the city owned, lighted trail system.
So many persons contribute to making the race the success that it is and has been, we wouldn’t dare start mentioning all of them.
Many out of town members of the press keep asking us why the U.S. Ski Association comes to Glens Falls. The list of stops on the Samsonite Nordic Series is quite impressive. Aspen, Colo., Park City, Utah, Big Sky, Montana, large cities such as Cleveland, Buffalo and Rochester. Then the name of Glens Falls appears, and it’s in quite good company.
The reason goes back to Jan. 3, 1971, when a struggling night racing tour moved into Glens Falls to officially open the city’s lighted ski trails.
Jim Balfanz, U.S. Nordic Program Director, slipped into a pair of cross country skis and zipped around the lighted trails through Crandall Park.
When he returned, anxious local officials quite naturally asked the top man in the nation in Nordic skiing, “What do you think, are they (the trails) alright.”
His reply is still quoted a lot around Crandall Park, “Are they alright, can angels fly?”
Another reason that the tour annually visits Crandall Park is the fact Glens Falls has returned ski racing to the people. There is no large group of officials putting on a ski race for themselves.
Rather there is a small group, operating without even a budget, that puts on a ski race for skiers and the crowds of spectators who line the trail system.
Glens Falls has gone back to basics. A good trail, a well-run race, nice prizes, a total community effort, without any commercialism.
We were asked by an out-of-town reporter, “What does Glens Falls get out of having this race?”
Publicity, certainly, nation and world wide publicity that in itself is priceless for an area that has an economy that depends on tourism.
But more than that, Glens Falls, and the people in Glens Falls and the area, get the satisfaction of once a year putting on one of the best international ski races in the nation. Where skiers always come back, where they look forward to competing and renewing friendships.
Glens Falls gets a great deal from “THE” race and there’s not a dollar sign on any of it.