Snow­fac­tory De­liv­ers Win­ter

Re­li­able Snow at Lake Placid

SkiTrax - - Out In Front - By Ron John­son and John Sy­mon KS:

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.

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