TechnoAlpin and the X-Games
The 2016 Winter X-Games concluded Sunday January 31st. This year’s X-Games consisted of Superpipe, Slope Style, Big Air along with Skier and Snowboard Cross, Snowmobile Freestyle and Snow Cross. Each venue requires a separate course and features. These events, for the most elite world-class athletes, dictate features that require an incredible amount of machine made snow. Some of the features would dwarf a 3-story condo. TechnoAlpin is proud to have its equipment making the lion’s share of that snow. Aspen Ski Corp has about 70 TechnoAlpin fan guns and a good complement of TechnoAlpin Rubis EVO’s at Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass. Buttermilk is the smallest of Aspen’s four mountains but it takes on gigantic proportions to host the X-Games. Because for X-Games, enough snow is never enough snow, Buttermilk relies on its fleet of T 40’s, TF 10’s and Rubis EVO’s at trails edge. When the other 3 mountains finish snowmaking operation usually just before Christmas, Buttermilk is just beginning to knuckle down, often “borrowing” TechnoAlpin fans from its sister resorts. Throughout January, mild mannered Buttermilk, known for its kids programs, looks like a snowmaking war zone. Many of the features start as snowmaking piles 50 feet deep. At the beginning of the process, one would think tower guns would be most appropriate and Buttermilk has some, but the technique has become to use carriage guns to make a monstrous mound, then a brave snow cat operator moves the gun to a perch at the top of the mound and the building continues. Often we see two yellow fans shoulder to shoulder, just feet apart.
Snow volume, made as economically as possible is the name of the game but snow quality is also a factor. Shapers are only concerned with volume at the early stages of the build, but as the features near completion they often ask for drier snow. For the TechnoAlpin guns that is simply a case of adjusting the snow quality setting until the shapers are happy.
Although natural snow is not really part of the feature building equation, natural snow impacted the athletes this year with one of the Western US’s many snowstorms descending upon Aspen with perfect timing.
TechnoAlpin USA is very proud of its involvement with the X-Games and Aspen Ski Corp. “X” is all about the extreme athletes but there is also a great story about “extreme” snowmaking.