By Tom Kelly \ January 28 2020
This was one of those ‘man dreams’ - to be riding in a big piece of machinery, conquering the steeps and sculpting the snow, riding in Prinoth Bison, nearly 10 tons of machinery with over 400 horsepower of Caterpillar energy pushing the treads. Deer Valley Resort groomer Laura Sexton was in command, her left hand deftly managing the track control levers, her right fingers flicking buttons on a joystick like an experienced gamer, expertly controlling the hydraulics.
A midwest native (Ski Sundown in Dubuque, Iowa), Sexton has been grooming Deer Valley’s mountains for neary 30 years - 27 of which she doubled up as a corpsman in the Naval Reserve. She’s one of the resort’s veterans on a crew with well over 100 years of experience on any given shift. And she still loves it.
In this episode of Last Chair from Ski Utah, Tom Kelly explores the mountain on skis with Sexton as she personally inspects the snow surface in the late afternoon hours, before sending her first shift crew up onto the mountain.
Snow grooming is an art form. Heading up the hill, Laura flicked the hydraulics to push the blade into the snow, snapping the wings out to gain maximum width. The snow looped up and circled back to the ground, while the treads compacted it. She set the tillers to aerate the snow behind the cat, with bars carving pristine corduroy into the snow.
It’s a labor of love for Laura and her team, tracking hour after hour in the mountain solitude to put down precision corduroy for all of us to enjoy the next morning.
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