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The World Cup in Sljeme, Croatia, had been struggling with unreliable snow coverage for several years. That is why the organizing committee decided this year to employ a Snow Factory to supplement the traditional snow coverage. TechnoAlpin spoke with FIS Race Director Markus Waldner about the use of the snow gun and the future prospects it promises.
What was the critical factor in your decision to use a Snow Factory to make snow for the World Cup slope?
Several FIS races have had to be cancelled in the past. In recent years, the World Cup in Sljeme could only be held twice, a drop-out rate of 50%. We could not take this risk again and agreed that the 2017 competition absolutely had to take place. So as not to leave anything to chance, we opted for a Snow Factory. We already knew about the snow gun from the German Skiing Association and were convinced it was the way to go.
How did using the Snow Factory turn out for you at the World Cup in Sljeme?
This year we carried out the snow check a full week before the start. Previously, it was always a nail-biter because we had to keep putting off the snow check. The technical fit-out, not only with the Snow Factory but also the business of swapping nozzles and servicing the pumping station was very reassuring and allowed us to start snow-making on time. We can’t yet say exactly what proportion of the snow from the Snow Factory went for snow-making.
Could we do away with fan guns completely in the future?
The Snow Factory can only be considered as an aid to traditional snow-making. Without low temperatures, racing would not have been possible. We knew from the start that snow-making using the Snow Factory can’t be the only solution but its use helped make racing possible.
Has the Snow Factory opened up new possibilities and areas of application? It might in future be possible to hold FIS races in cities or stadiums...
Absolutely! Oslo is a good example. Next year we’re planning to organize a race on the ski jump slope at the Holmenkol. This slope could actually be used all year round because the Snow Factory is always a guarantee of having snow. That might be interesting for other organizers.
We’ve had a few new ideas in our heads for some time and are thinking about staging city events. In principle, there are no limits here. We could have parallel events in cities, such as at the Olympia Park in Munich or Central Park in New York. We could also organize such events in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. If there are six races in a season, it would also be possible to award a separate trophy.
Will the Snow Factory also be used in future for snow-making on World Cup slopes?
We’ll certainly continue to use it. The results were very positive and provided guarantees and new alternatives. In any case, it’s clear that this is the only way to combat global warming. If you want to guarantee having snow, you can no longer rely solely on traditional snow. This is the right way and we can confirm one thing: the Snow Factory is probably the way to go for the future.