by Mike Knaak
High school and community skiers now have a new cross country trail in Sartell thanks to a joint effort by the school district, Nordic Ski Club of Central Minnesota and the city of Sartell.
The trail officially opened Nov. 18 after volunteers spent the summer clearing brush and the fall making snow on the 1/2K trail between the old Sartell high school and soccer fields.
The 60 members of the Sartell/Cathedral nordic ski team will use the trail for practices, coach Joe Teff said. Skiers from Tech and Apollo high schools are also expected to use it, as well as community members.
A $24,000 donation from the ski club funded a snow-making gun. Design Electric installed underground electrical connections along the trail to power it. Traut Cos. installed a booster pump on the gun so it will spray farther.
The school district provides water and electricity and the city of Sartell will help maintain the trail and move the snow equipment.
Starting on Nov. 10, a crew made snow for two or three days, just enough so skiers could try out the new trail during a ribbon cutting on Nov. 18. When winter snow arrives, the trail will expand to about 5K on the land around the old high school.
The snow gun came from Helena, Montana, and it shoots out 60 to 70 gallons of water per minute. The temperature has to be cooler than 25 degrees to make snow. The snow base built up by the gun should remain for the season unless the temperature reaches 50 degrees.
In past years, high school skiers traveled to Riverside Park in St. Cloud – a 30-minute trip each each way – for practice.
“This is really a community effort bringing together businesses, schools and the city,” Teff said. “The Sartell City Council approved the project and everyone worked together to complete the project and build this great feature for our community.”