This is the time of year skiers and riders begin to salivate. Ski movie trailers are coming out. The first snow has dusted the Rockies. You may or may not have been shopping for some new sticks…
But “winter is coming.” At least in Finland. Levi, the nation’s largest ski area, and Ruka, another one of the largest– both plan to open on Friday. October 2nd, 2020. Ruka has set the time at 9.30 am for the lifts the begin spinning.
In order to open early, the “two resorts use snow farming – saving piles of snow collected last spring under insulating covers”. This process protects the snow from the summer heat, which slows the melting. Once October hits, the resorts spread what is left back onto the slopes as temperatures start to drop. Cooler temperatures, combined with snow farming and an earlier start to winter given Finland’s position in the Northern reaches of the globe.
Whistler and other resorts in Europe have begun to use snow farming or covering of glaciers in order to prolong, or in this case, provide an early start. As resorts are affected by climate change, dryer seasons and earlier closing dates, nations and their ski areas will need to become more creative. The same technique is now used by Courchevel in France and Kitzbühel in the Austrian Tirol, which is normally the first location in the Alps to open without a glacier. They plan to open approximately three weeks later.
However, Levi and Ruka will probably not be the first resort in Scandinavia, Europe, or the northern hemisphere without a glacier to open for winter 2020-21. Norway’s Kvitfjell, again using snow farming, will open for ski race training groups and also for a few hours each weekend for season pass holder from the 26th of September.
So get ready. Do your snow dances and keep an eye on the skies.