LAKETON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Warmer temperatures this winter were a challenge for outdoor sports that relied on natural snow and below freezing conditions.
Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park worked to adapt and is looking at new alternatives to expand the season.
The nonprofit complex said the weather made for one of the most challenging winters in the history of the park, according to Executive Director Jim Rudicil.
“It was certainly a lackluster winter in terms of winter sports. We made the best of it when winter cooperated,” Rudicil said. “We were able to accomplish about half of our winter weekends and then we had to cancel the others.”
The temperature swings were difficult and the staff worked to keep as many attractions open as possible.
“With the mercury above 32 degrees a lot of the times, but with the snowfall that would come intermittently, we were able to open the ski trails when we didn’t have the ice sports available,” Rudicil said.
The park hauled in snow from parking lots in the area and were even planning to bring in some from northern Michigan.
“We were working with an excavator up in Grayling to actually truck in snow. About the day that he was going to truck it, a snow front came through and we had enough snow so we were able to build the track that day,” Rudicil said.
Getting the luge track open required a lot of work by the staff throughout the season.
“It’s an 850-foot ice sculpture and our crew of guys are dedicated and they worked around the clock to get that opened. They had to rebuild it three times this season,” Rudicil said.
Insulated blankets also were crucial to extend the use of the track.
“They have a thin layer of insulation and they actually will hold the ice in 50-degree temps for a lot of days, and as you can see around the track there are still spots that we still have snow here so that’s the success of using those types of innovations,” Rudicil said.
The park is considering adding a synthetic ice rink to offer an alternative if conditions are not cold enough in future seasons.
“We’re looking at a system called Glice right now. We’re pretty excited about that,” Rudicil said.
The park has also been expanding its activities beyond winter. The dual zip line has become a popular attraction.
“Our goal is to have something out here for the general public to come out and enjoy 365 days a year,” Rudicil said.