Yellowstone Track Systems Changes Hands
You know the phrase “Pure as the driven snow”? Well, a properly groomed cross-country trail is exactly that. Grooming for skate and Classic technique is somewhere between craft and art.
To do the best job, you have to be intimately familiar with the terrain, vehicle and implements, and evaluate snow conditions, which can change from moment to moment and spot to spot. You need to know when to groom and when not to groom.
Ideally, the result is fresh, clean lines of compressed snow that buoy up your skis and don’t let your poles sink. It’s almost (almost!) too beautiful to mar by skiing.
To create this, drivers need equipment that can at the right times, blade, gather, chop, slice, dice, push, pack, smooth, lovingly pat into place . . . .
Well, if you ski groomed trails in North America, chances are pretty good that you’ve been skating or striding on surfaces created by Yellowstone Track Systems (YTS). For Elite skiers, the same holds true for the past five winter Olympics around the world. YTS is a leading source for tracksetters and snow renovators in North America.
In the trade, referring to its ever-evolving “Ginzugroomer” (a snow renovator for use with snowmobiles or snowcats, with a track-setting option) is sometimes similar to saying “Xerox” when referring to “photocopiers.” YTS also manufactures rollers, compactors, front renovators, snow combs, pretty much all of the cross-country grooming implements except for front blades and power tillers. And yes, it has compaction drags for fatbike trails.
After almost 35 years in the business, YTS founder Doug Edgerton, who all this time has groomed and tested equipment at the famous Rendezvous Trails in West Yellowstone, Mont., has sold his brainchild to David and Helen Haile. They live near Sheridan, Wyo., which, in turn, borders on the Bighorn Mountains, where the equipment will be tested.
So what inspired Haile, known in his family as “Mr. Spreadsheet,” to switch professions after 34 years as an electrical engineer? In part it was monotony, as Haile was “scrambling to get away from a desk.” They also both love the sport and skiers (Helen says their customers are “like having hundreds of pen pals”), so they’ll have a lot of people contact.
There will likely not be many new YTS products right away. The Hailes are concentrating on streamlining the business, making ordering easier, as well as accelerating fabrication and fulfillment. Changes in the near future may include more concentration on fatbiking grooming, while the Jumbo Roller is already being supplanted by an electric roller/compactor for better performance, especially in wet, sticky conditions.
And if you ski West Yellowstone, Edgerton will probably still be grooming, using YTS equipment. For more information, visit www.yellowstonetrack.com. – Jonathan Wiesel