10 Questions with Grooming Manager John Neuhauser
1. To give us all some background information on you, what’s your name, title and how long have you been with Canyons?
John Neuhauser, Trails/Slope Grooming Manager. I’d like to point out that the reason my title specifies trails and slopes grooming manager is because people sometimes think we groom Poodles and Pomeranians, not ski trails. You’d be surprised how often that happens.
I’ve been at Canyons off and on since before it was Canyons (Parkwest). My first season was 1983 when I moved here at the age of 17, and I took a job as a lift operator. Since then have worked as a groomer, snow maker, lift mechanic, vehicle mechanic, heavy equipment operator, grooming supervisor and grooming manager. I’ve been grooming since 1986, and have worked at resorts all over the world from Parkwest and PCMR to Treble Cone, New Zealand, and Wisp Resort, Maryland. But I’ve groomed the longest at Canyons, 12 seasons total. Always been interested in all things mechanical…cars, trucks, boats, ships, machinery etc. and growing up skiing was always fascinated with snow-cats and grooming machinery.
2. Paint us a picture of what goes on at Canyons when the lifts stop turning.
After the Patrol sweeps the hill and daytime personnel leave for the day, a small army of people are up on the hill all night long making snow, grooming the runs, and transporting supplies to mountain restaurants. We groom between 40-50 runs per night on average. Acreage on a typical night is in excess of 300 acres. On avalanche control mornings, snow safety folks start arriving to assess conditions at around 3 AM.
3. Most people take advantage of the groomed runs (and trails in the summer) each morning, and don’t realize exactly what goes into it. What are they typical hours for the people on your team?
Grooming at Canyons occurs primarily from 5:00PM-8:45AM on two shifts…swing shift 4:15-12:15 and graveyard shift 11:45-9:45 I have a crew of 32 snow cat operators, 27 of which are full time during the winter months. We have 14 grooming machines. The summer trail crew consists of between 7-15 trail workers, sawyers and heavy equipment operators. Equipment we use in the summer months include Track-hoes, backhoes, bulldozers, front-end loaders, dump trucks and chainsaws.
4. I hear we’ve added a few Cats to the fleet for the upcoming season. Can you explain to us what makes them unique?
We have 2 new machines this season! One is the Prinoth Beast, which is the largest and most powerful slope groomer on the market. There are only around 30 BR500s/beasts in the world and we have more of them than any other resort in North America with five in our fleet. We also purchased a Pisten Bully 400 PARK, which is a snow cat that has attachments that are specifically manufactured for use in terrain park construction/grooming. The park guys are pretty happy about this one.
5. Are you the lucky guy who determines the “Groomer’s pick” each day? If so, how is that determined?
Usually it’s the shift supervisors who choose “the groomers pick” , but it’s based on suggestions from the individual cat operators who spent time on the hill that night.
6. What is your favorite part about Canyons?
Wow, too many awesome things to list! Definitely powder mornings, sunrises up in the cat, grooming in a blizzard with good tunes on the stereo, and all the wildlife that we get to see up on the hill. Often times we see moose, coyotes, bob cats, badgers, ermine (weasel family), ravens, Red Tail hawks and more.
7. What do you like to do on your free time?
Skiing (I tried snowboarding a few times, and it reminded me why and how much I love skiing), hiking, fishing, and taking road trips and traveling. I have owned a number of British sports cars such as MGs and Triumphs, and while I don’t have any of those toys currently, I sure do miss tinkering with them and driving them. I hope to do more of that in the future.
8. You look really familiar…have I seen you somewhere before?
I was in a documentary film that was at Sundance in 2007 called “EVERYTHING’S COOL”. It was a documentary about Climate Change, and they interviewed me about my determination to convert all of Canyons’ vehicles (and my 1970s Mercedes) to biodiesel.
9. How far along are you in that goal?
We’ve made great strides in our snowmobile fleet. Before, our fleet consisted of a mix of 2 stroke and 4 stroke snowmobiles. 4 stroke snowmobiles not only produce less carbon emissions but also require less maintenance and therefore reducing the use of oils and lubricants. This year, we converted the entire fleet to 100% 4-stroke snowmobiles. As far as we know, we are the only ski resort in North America to an entire fleet of 4 strokes.
10. If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?
Maine Lobster, steamed Cherrystone Clams, corn on the cob and ice cold beer.
Check out the video of Canyons by Moonlight visual idea of what John’s team does for the resort.