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Pinehurst park upgrades ski hill, work not over

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Pinehurst Park is getting some upgrades to its hill that will make it easier to ski, snowboard and snow tube down.

The non-profit group, OutdoorMore has been upgrading Pinehurst Park over the last couple of years, creating mountain biking and cross-country trails in the woods around the park. Saturday, it added a mechanical cable/paddle tow that people can hold on to as it pulls them up the hill. The group also flattened the hill's top, so skiers and snowboarders can get across before they ride down.

This park has been a ski and snowboarding hill for decades and is where Skip Contardi got his start before beginning his 14-year long professional snowboarding career. Contardi has since moved back to Eau Claire, and has gotten involved with OutdoorMore, and is now helping to bring snowboarding back to Eau Claire.

"I grew up at this hill honing my skills with all my friends," Contardi said. "It's interesting because I built lifelong friendships and traveled the world with people that I met at this hill thirty years ago."

Contardi said there will also be some jumps and rails for people to use while going down the hill. And on the other side, snow tubing lanes will be built this fall as well. OutdoorMore's vice president, Craig Manthe, said all the work on Pinehurst Park is done by volunteers such as himself and Contardi. It's been funded by grants, donations, and support of local businesses.

"Why does it matter? I think because there are a lot of people that like to mountain bike and challenge themselves and they like to get outside and do active things and there is elevation here that we can work with so gravity is definitely a fun thing to play with for sure," Manthe said.

While the cable tow is being put in this weekend, volunteers said it may not be ready to use until next winter season. They are also hoping by next year, people will be able to rent out snow tubes and, farther down the line, rent skis and snowboards as well.

Both Manthe and Contardi said every year they want to continue to improve the hill and the park.

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Felicity Bosk

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