NSAA Trade Show at Squaw Valley
January 19th through the 21st NSAA held its Western Winter Show at Squaw Valley California. Attendance was very strong at 600. The good turnout for this show is always surprising because it starts just the day after the biggest 3-day weekend of the US season, Martin Luther King weekend and this MKL saw some of the best skiing and biggest crowds in many years. MLK’s crowds capped what several Western customers told us was their best December ever. Obviously, the mood of the crowd was very upbeat. The Eastern US continues to struggle with weather with a huge difference in terrain open between the snowmaking have and have not’s. The NSAA moves East to Killington Feb 2st and 3rd.
TechnoAlpin presented an arrival day educational program entitled; “The Power of Your Own Snowmaking Data”. Robin presented to a sizable and appreciative crowd. Crowds are tough to draw at Squaw because if ski and weather conditions are good, it is one of the most revered spots for extreme skiing in North America. Thankfully, it was a rain / snow mix.
Robin’s presentation features real world examples of resorts who have increased productivity and lowered energy use at the same time, with data to back it up. A new example was Sun Valley. Sun Valley was among the first adopters of automation in North America and is now in the midst of its 3rd technology evolution. The original automatic guns, efficient for their day, used 600 cfm each. Generation Two were Borax guns that use less than 200 cfm, 2/3’s less air. Sun Valley is now deploying Generation Three. Rubis EVO’s using just 16 cfm. 97% less energy than Gen 1! We’ve come a long way baby.
Wednesday schedule was supposed to start with First Track but that was cancelled by avalanche control. TechnoAlpin hosted a tour of the fully automatic machine room at the base of Squaw Valley. It is a unique glass façade avalanche resistant building with 6 large centrifugal compressors and 4 vertical turbine pumps all controlled by Liberty software along with 200 automatic guns. Snowmaking Manager Mark Meyer gave Liberty rave reviews for keeping Squaw’s system “safe”. Squaw has increased its production 4 fold without increasing plant size. Meyer’s has accomplished this by moving water from very high on the mountain in many different scenarios. Squaw’s 3200’ of vertical creates potential hazards moving water downhill. Liberty predicts the consequences of each scenario and manages pressure reducing valves, reservoir levels, and booster pumps to protect the system. “It would be easy to blow this system out of the ground, but I have absolute trust in Liberty.” I can’t say enough good things about this system”. Mark talked about how Liberty differs from other controlling software in that only Liberty is “predictive”, as opposed to reactive. “We fear a reactive system would simply react too late”. Liberty has been at Squaw since 1989.