An Interview With Head Groomer Tommy Morsch

What might people not understand about operating a Snow Groomer?

A lot of people don’t realize, it’s a lot more then driving around all night connecting the dots. It takes a fair amount of grading and adjustments to the machine to put down good corduroy. Our groomers have a 12-function blade, so just with grading you’re dealing with 12 different functions. The blade can go up and down, it can angle, it can tip/tilt. Then there’s curl, forward and backwards. Two functions on each wing (close
and open). With a snowcat you grab your snow with the curl instead of like a bulldozer where you push and move the snow with a blade.

If you hike around Bristol Mountain in the off-season you might notice that the trails you hike on don’t look exactly like the trails that you ski or ride on. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

We are fortunate in this part of New York that when we build a trail, we can manufacture some of that out of dirt to be snow smart (meaning that we don’t have to make additional snow to shape the trail).

That being said on trails like Upper Rocket, Comet, and Universe we manufacture a lot of the breakovers and double fall lines with snow. That’s something I find to be a lot of fun, getting the snow where you need it. We do a lot of trail maintenance, snow is always moving downhill, if you have a double fall line and you don’t maintain that every few days then it changes the trail drastically.

What’s cool about the two new Prinoth Bison X Groomers that Bristol Mountain is adding to its fleet this season?

The technology in these new cats is amazing. We will be able to see the degrees of pitch and the blade angles up on our screen so that when you’re building features you can set the take-offs and landings to the degrees. The new cats have a longer tiller frame, which will allow us to lay down good corduroy while making tighter turns and we will be able to build and maintain features we haven’t been able to in awhile. They also have a push button start, back-up cameras, LED lighting, and Bluetooth radios.

What’s the most challenging part of building a terrain park?

There are a lot of things that we have to think carefully about when building a terrain park. One of those things is the distance in-between feature to feature, to make sure it rides right but also making sure that you have the space you need in-between features to groom. Shooting Star Terrain Park is laid out in a way that is great to ride but also in a way that we can physically groom it in a pattern so it’s efficient. With the parks, you groom the features and then the outsides and then the middle. We also spend a lot of time with blade work every night fixing take-offs and landings.

There have been some changes to the Shooting Star trail. How will that impact the terrain park?

The widening of shooting star should allow us to be 3 features wide in places with rails and boxes and 2 features wide when it comes to the jumps. Before the trail improvements we were only able to be 2 features wide with a single jump line. That could add anywhere from 8-12 features to the Shooting Star Terrain Park, which will be awesome!

Do you listen to music while you groom?

I’m not a musical person, I either turn on country music or a playlist my daughters put on my phone.

What is the best part about being a groomer at Bristol Mountain?

You’re the only ones at the mountain at the night, other than snowmakers if you’re making snow. It’s a whole new perspective of the mountain.

It’s special when the sun’s rising. It’s awesome to see what you just did for the last 10 hours on the hill. When you’re grooming and it’s dark you can just see the bubble around you. When the sun comes out you can actually see the whole mountain with the sun shining on it. It’s a very satisfying feeling. As long as we’re almost done…