If you’ve ever skate-skied, snowshoed, pedaled a fat bike, or just walked on the buttery-smooth winter trails of Round Valley or the Rail Trail, you have grooming guru Rick Fournier to thank. Part of his job as Mountain Trails Foundation’s field manager is to design, build, and groom 50 glorious kilometers of winter fun.
Fournier moved to Park City in 1997 and worked at The Canyons as a lift mechanic and supervisor. In the summer of 2005, the opportunity arose to work on a Mountain Trails crew, and, as they say, the rest is history. “Round Valley has morphed into something far bigger than any of us expected early on,” he says. “In 2006, we began grooming some of the doubletrack with a beat-up old snowmobile and a steel box drag. I spent a good deal of time those first few years removing rocks, cutting back scrub oak, and clearing new trails to create loops.” Then in 2009, Park City Municipal purchased a PistenBully groomer. After two hours of training, Fournier was sent on his way. He and other Mountain Trails staff members now groom trails seven days a week.
“Most groomers are a little OCD,” Fournier laughs. “You want things to look aesthetically good. You have this canvas of snow to create nice, flowing lines, smooth transitions, and wide turns. There’s something really satisfying about laying down some fresh corduroy. I certainly hadn’t anticipated that this is what I would be doing as I’m pushing 50, but things just kind of fell into place. I absolutely love what I do.”
Winter workdays start at 5 a.m., when Fournier often sees elk, coyotes, golden eagles, or “just simply amazing sunrises,” he says. “It’s crazy the others I see so early, like the regulars walking their dogs or this group of ladies who run, wearing their headlamps with their eyelashes completely frosted over. They always wave good morning.”