Several feet of snow covers the well-manicured greens of the town’s golf course.
A group of volunteers are now working on a new way for Ridgefielders to enjoy outdoor recreation at the golf course in the off season, replacing golf clubs and carts with skis and poles.
“I’ve always joked I wanted to teach a winter 101 class,” Ridgefielder Leslie Krichko said. “It comes every year and every year everyone spends it inside, but especially a winter like this.”
Ms. Krichko, a Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s International on Main Street, is also a two-time Olympic athlete in ski racing with the U.S. team. She happened to purchase a ski track-setting machine right around the time First Selectman Rudy Marconi thought that using the golf course for winter recreation would be a great idea.
“The day the track setter was supposed to arrive, Rudy called me,” Ms. Krichko said.
Mr. Marconi had heard through Ridgefielder Kerry Anne Ducey, of the Talk of the Town blog, that Ms. Krichko would be a great resource for setting up ski trails.
“I was a ski racer for 12 years or so and moved to Ridgefield 17 years ago it’s been a dream of mine to set tracks,” Ms. Krichko said. She sometimes travels to a place in Hartford or in New York state to cross-country ski but this year’s accumulation of snow makes it difficult and too deep.
The track-setting machine is pulled by a snowmobile and packs down the snow while creating two tracks. She hopes it might be possible to create two sets of tracks side by side.
“The poles can swing like they are supposed to and you glide on the skis the way you are supposed to instead of stomping around,” Ms. Krichko said of making the tracks. “It’s just a whole different sport when you have set tracks.”
Mr. Marconi said the golf course director approved of the plan but skiers will stay off the greens. They are aiming to make a two-mile loop.
“I have skied for years up there so I have an idea of where nice loops can go,” she said.
Ridgefielder Christopher von Koschembahr has volunteered to use his snowmobile to pull the track machine.
It’s a great activity for older people, too, she said and snowshoers could use the packed areas outside the tracks.
“We are hoping to get out this weekend and start,” Ms. Krichko said.
Depending on how many people are drawn by the trails, the town may consider opening the course’s concession stand, Mr. Marconi said. Tuesday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to discuss a revision to a special permit, allowing the concession stand at the golf course to be open on weekends in the winter. The application was submitted by the town.
“I just picture people up there skiing two miles, getting some hot chocolate and making another run,” Mr. Marconi said.
“I’m excited, I think people will really enjoy it,” Ms. Krichko said. “We can set up some clinics, maybe get some runners and other people out there who’ve been shot down by this weather.”