Snow ... the white gold?
The Alpine Ski Racer Is Chasing The White Gold
Pretty much at the same time when the resorts in the Southern Hemisphere closed, a handfull resort in Europe openend ... and I am not talking about the glacier resorts.
About a 50min drive from Leogang, past St. Johann in Tirol and Kitzbühel, you reach the Pass Thurn and the Resterhöhe. Then you catch a gondola up to 1890m and you reach a chairlift where the world´s best ski racers are currently preparing for the upcoming winter season ... on "natural" snow.
Not glacier ice, it´s actual snow from the last season. Last spring, 24000 cubic metres of snow got pushed together (Australians are well aware of this method called snow-farming), covered with insulation boards and a white blanket to protect the snow from rain and UV-rays.
Throughout the summer, about 15-20% of the snow melts, the rest is ready to be used again in October or whenever needed. Once pushed out by the groomers, about 60-100cm of compact, hard packed snow cover one run, primarily used by ski teams.
Is this the future of alpine skiing or just a good marketing stunt?
We shall see what the future holds. Fact is, that snow farming is not that damaging to our environment. The snow gets preserved instead of getting produced again in November/December when temperatures are not favourable for snowmaking and the machines are not efficient, resulting in higher energy usage.
In the ski racing world, snow farming is seen very positive, as you can avoid training at high altitude (ie. glacier) and at the same time you have a solid snow surface ... in this case you can truly say, the older the better.
We can definintely argue about snow farming looking pretty strange in summer, or the necessity of skiing in October; But in any professional sport you try to maximise and constantly improve training opportunities and environments. Therefore the sport and technologies to create/preserve snow (ie. Indoor Ski Hall, Snow Factory at Buller, Snow Farming in Europe, covering glacier ice with white blankets, etc.) will contiue to evolve.
The pictures below are from the resorts of Resterhöhe/Kitzbühel (Austria), Rukka (Finland) and Geilo (Norway).Error: Startbild muss kleiner als die Anzahl der Contentbilder sein