Given the unpredictability of snow in recent years, snow sport lovers have been having a heyday this early season. Most everywhere in Europe, the snow situation on the eve of Christmas is better than in years, which bodes well for winter tourism and the snow sports industry during the critical holiday period.
The snow situation in Åre is no exception and the resort now boasts a snow depth of 50cm on the main slopes, which indeed equals the depth of snow cover that is considered ideal for downhill slopes. The season’s snowfall so far is 81cm; typically the resort in Middle Sweden sees seasonal snowfalls of close to 2.5 meters. That means another two meters or so of white gold should still fall this ski season, provided suitable weather conditions…
In addition to natural snowfall, Åre’s slopes are equipped with leading-edge snow-making systems. Man-made snow is the norm on 100 percent of top racing courses today and in fact is required by FIS for World Cup and World Championships competitions. It is no different in well-managed resorts. Standardized snow-making simplifies slope preparation and production processes can be tailored to prevailing weather conditions. Modern snow-making and management systems are highly optimized and computer-controlled.
– I cannot remember a pre-season that had better conditions for us to prepare the slopes, with long periods of cold temperatures and from little to no wind. We have already managed to produce a million cubic meters of snow this season which, barring any natural catastrophes, is all we need for this season, says Dag Tjernberg who is in charge of managing everything snow-related at SkiStar Åre.
SkiStar is one of the leaders in the ski resort business in the use of technology to improve their operations. Moreover, SkiStar Åre has been one of the pioneers in implementing new technology that allows it to minimize the amount of energy and water required for snow-making. Most recently they have equipped their snow cats with satellite technology to measure the snow depth below the machines to ensure that the terrain is covered with sufficient but not excessive amount of snow everywhere. Along with targeted positioning of snow guns with respect to wind direction, SkiStar is able to optimize how much snow is produced. All these measures, implemented as part of SkiStar Åre’s commitment to environmental management (the resort is ISO 14001 certified), greatly help improve the sustainability of their mountain operations.
Christmas also marks the end of the first FIS World Cup period. Indeed there are only some 80 days left until the FIS World Cup Finals 2018 in Åre! All the snow already on the slopes will serve as the foundation for the courses used during the ultimate week of World Cup racing in March.
– It’s looking fantastic for the racing courses. We have a great base and only a few things to finalize – the Finals can come, concludes Tjernberg.