With the increasing pressure on resorts to open early and with good conditions, snow farming has become recognized as one of the most useful ways to preserve snow. While much of Europe’s snow remained unskied this season, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used next season.
Resorts in Europe have begun the now annual process of farming their snow and using tarpaulin to cover these snow farms or sawdust to cover mounds of snow. Both methods have proven successful for multiple resorts and are an important part of their success.
Scandanavian resorts Ruka in Finland and Idre Fjall in Sweden began harvesting this week. The hope is that up to 75% of the harvested snow will survive the summer and be available when temperatures drop in Fall to begin preparing the slopes.
Two of Europes most well-known resorts, Val Thorens and Courchevel, invested in snow farming last year. They began storing snow under insulation panels and covering it with a special tarp. According to The Telegraph, Courchevel has big plans for snow farming.
Courchevel has confirmed it will use the preserved snow in the summer to groom the Emile Allais piste and fill the stadium that hosts the women’s Alpine Ski Wold Cup in December. It is estimated snow farming can produce a third of the 60,000 sq meters (approx. 645,000 sq. feet) of snow required to fill the stadium. The required snow will be kept under a 1.8 sq kilometer (1.1 sq. mile) tarpaulin over the summer.
Val Thorens may be the highest ski resort in Europe, but they are also investing a reported 15,000 euros (approx. 18,000 USD) in snow farming, according to the French website The Connexion. They will use their preserved snow at the beginning of next winter to prepare Nordic trails, ski runs, and jumps.
Resorts such as the Olympiaregion Seefeld in Austria have been using snow farming for several years. Their use of snow farming enables winter athletes to train through the summer months.
Its method of conservation uses wood chips to cover snow and those involved believe it has been a key influence in the country’s sporting success in cross-country and Nordic ski disciplines, thanks to improved training conditions.
Snow farming has allowed resorts to overcome seasons where Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. In the uncertain preseason months, these resorts will have piles of reliable snow to harvest. In areas where the snow melts first, and temperatures are too warm for artificial snowmaking, snow farming is revolutionary. It’s a smart investment for those to rely heavily on a long consistent season.