Snowfactory Delivers Winter
Reliable Snow at Lake Placid
The impacts of a steadily warming planet can be felt far and wide, and this is already dramatically changing the way winter-sports facilities operate. Snow is everything. Until recently, snowmaking was something that happened only at alpine resorts. No longer. During the 2015/16 season, one marred by winter weather far below average, Nordic-ski hub Mount Van Hoevenberg near the town of Lake Placid, N.Y. was open for just 39 days. The next season, it was back up to 139 days, thanks in part to a historic investment of $90,000 in a Snowfactory portable-snowmaking system – the first in North America. got the inside scoop on the equipment from Kris Seymour, Nordic-program manager at Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross Country & Biathlon Center, run by New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
How did Snowfactory come to Lake Placid?
Kris Seymour: The Snowfactory came to Lake Placid last season to provide snowmaking at the cross-country complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg. It is located behind the cross-country lodge. This machine was chosen because it met a number of the needs specific to our location.
The majority of Mount Van Hoevenberg is located in a protected region of the Adirondack Park. Traditional-snowmaking systems require a very specific infrastructure and large quantities of water to be on site. Both of these are difficult to accomplish in the locations that we need snow at Mount Van Hoevenberg. We have an existing remote pumping station from the 1980 Olympic Games, but the location is far from any of the trail systems. The Snowfactory is a movable, fully enclosed structure that can be hooked up in exactly the place we need it, and it uses power and water that is available on site. Although it is movable, for our needs it will remain next to the cross-country stadium.
Weather and snowmaking studies indicated that the Snowfactory was a perfect solution for both our normal and anomaly winters. Our minimum requirement for consistent snow is the beginning of December through the third week of March. Between our sport partners (US Biathlon, NYSEF, USSA, US Para Nordic, etc.), performance skiers, season-pass holders, programs and recreational guests to our complex, we had 35,000 skier visits last season. The expectation of these skiers is that we will be open with quality conditions when they want to ski at Mount Van Hoevenberg. This may encompass holiday weeks, National-level races, family vacations or team practice during the week.
In normal years, the early windows for traditional snowmaking are short and spread apart, thus making it difficult to guarantee snow for the beginning of the season. The Snowfactory makes it possible to have snow when we need it. In an anomaly season [such as] we had two years ago (15/16), we were open 39 days. There were only 164 hours available to make snow in a traditional manner and the windows were very short.
This past season (16/17), we were open 139 days, and just under 40% of those days were because we had the Snowfactory in operation. The Snowfactory is a game changer for Mount Van Hoevenberg. We can decide when to start our season and meet the expectations of the Nordic community during the winter months.
The Snowfactory is a Technoalpin product. The U.S. headquarters are in Denver, Colo. and the international headquarters are in Bolzano, Italy. The technology has been in existence since a little before the Sochi Olympic Games, and the units have been available for sale for a few years. The Snowfactory at Mount Van Hoevenberg is currently the only one in North America. There are a couple dozen in the world at the moment – the majority are at Nordic centres in Scandinavia and Europe. Technoalpin has shared that a few Nordic National teams in Europe each own a Snowfactory.