SARANAC LAKE - Tons of snow was moved to and around Dewey Mountain Recreation Center Friday, Feb. 24 in a last-minute effort to ensure there's enough to cover the race course for Saturday's World Snowshoe Championships.
Using dump trucks and loaders, village Department of Public Works crews hauled, dumped, spread and packed down countless loads of stockpiled snow onto the starting area for the races - an open, flat field next to the state armory - and around the Dewey Mountain base lodge.
"We started first thing this morning," said village Manager John Sweeney. "We picked it from several places here in town. Right now, it's all coming out of Lake Placid from (the state Olympic Regional Development Authority) and the airport over there."
Dewey Mountain Recreation Center manager Jason Smith, center, directs shoveling volunteers near Dewey’s base lodge Friday morning before they head out to help cover trails with snow for Saturday’s World Snowshoe Championships in Saranac Lake.
(News photo — Chris Knight)
Sweeney said effort put down between 1 to 2 feet of snow on the start area. Given the forecast of rain and temperatures in the mid 50s Saturday, will that be enough?
"Yes," Sweeney said definitively.
As he spoke, volunteers were spread out across Dewey's trail network, shoveling snow from the woods onto the race course and digging trenches to steer runoff away from the trails. A big group showed up outside Dewey's base lodge at 9 a.m. for what was described as a "snow shoveling party" in an email sent out Thursday night.
"We had about 20 to 30 volunteers working the course, throwing snow where needed," said Jason Smith, Dewey's manager. "I think the course in the woods is looking good. It's mostly the base and the field that needed attention. Then we moved to heavy machinery, and we've been bringing in snow from every area of the Tri-Lakes to be distributed into the base area and the start-finish zone."
Friday afternoon, organizers issued another appeal for volunteers to shovel snow onto the race course Saturday morning, from 8 to 10 a.m.
"We've still got water moving under and over trails," Smith said. "We'll have to do a last-minute assessment (Saturday morning). We'll need a volunteer crew to be on the trails, addressing the water, addressing the bare spots, but I think we can make it happen. I know we can make it happen."
The Snowshoe Championships were originally planned to start on Main Street in front of the Harriestown Town Hall, but a week of warm weather forced the event to be moved entirely to Dewey Mountain, which is owned by the town of Harrietstown and managed by Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters.
Smith said he was a little nervous when he got the call, "but I knew that if we could get use of the armory field, it was doable.
"Of course, Saranac Lake always tends to rally when it comes to make something happen," he added.
Sweeney said the help of neighboring communities has been invaluable in getting enough snow here.
"Thank God for Lake Placid and the town of North Elba," he said. "One phone call, and here they are. That's typical of how things work up here."
More than 350 people have registered for Saturday's races, making it the biggest competition Dewey Mountain has ever hosted.
Some of the competitors, including reigning world champion Stephane Ricard of France, were doing practice runs on the course Friday as volunteers got it ready, for racing.
"This is going to be fast, because I think it will be firm and icy," said Bob Bolton of Paul Smith's College, who'll race Saturday.
"It's not going to change any of my tactics," added his friend and fellow competitor Jason Bond of Wisconsin. "I like that it will be a good firm course. It is what it is. We're runners. We'll strap the sticks to our feet and see what happens. We can't control Mother Nature, so we're going to come out, do our best and have fun."