Snow grooming for world cups
Author: Karina Lumholt
The Idre Fjäll resort in central Sweden recently hosted for the fourth time the Ski Cross World Cup arranged by the International Ski Federation, FIS. Ski cross is a fast-paced ski sport with rapid turns and high jumps where more than one skier racing down the course ski simultaneously. The sport is well-known for being public-friendly and fun to watch.
Building the ski cross course
The course for the World Cup in Ski cross built using the Leica iCON alpine solution.
Source: Idre Fjäll
The iCON alpine snow management solution from Leica Geosystems was used to prepare the ski cross course and measure the exact heights of the jumps and turns to ensure a safe and fair competition. The design model of the course is read by the machine control solution installed on the snow groomer and based on the bare terrain measurements taken during the summer. The exact snow heights can be calculated to build the course.
“We even used the iCON alpine solution to measure the heights of the saved snow piles, and we also used UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] to calculate exactly how much saved snow we had and how much technical snow we needed to produce,” explains Jonas Pålsson, snow groomer operator at Idre Fjäll.
Pålsson has worked with the iCON alpine solution for several years now – Idre Fjäll was the first ski resort in Scandinavia to adopt the 3D snow depth measurement and snow management solution from Leica Geosystems.
“I use the iCON alpine solution all the time on the regular slopes and trails. I use the solution to measure depths and plan early on if an area needs to have more snow allocated. This saves not only valuable time but also costs because the need for snow production can be calculated more exactly,” explains Pålsson.
Idre Fjäll started with a local GNSS base station placed at the very top. To ensure continuous connectivity and precise measurements for the machines, the resort now subscribes to the HxGN SmartNet, the world’s largest reference station network, as part of the Leica iCON alpine solution.
Implementing environmentally-friendly technology on Idre Fjäll
The planning of a ski cross competition starts long before the tournament takes place. Every year, Idre Fjäll saves snow from one season to another under a 2-3 millimetre double-layered felt carpet.
“This year we have saved a total of 260,000 cubic metres of snow,” explains Lars Fagrell, operations manager at Idre Fjäll. “We saved the snow from last year’s ski cross course, and even though 2018 was a record warm summer, we still had snow to build the course with less use of technical snow.”
Idre Fjäll is adopting different technological solutions, such as the iCON alpine solution, to stay environmentally-friendly a be a snow-sure destination.
“We produce a total of 1,500,000 cubic metres of technical snow every season,” says Fagrell. “If we can save 10 to 20 per cent of snow from the previous year, it means a very big cost reduction for us. The Leica iCON alpine solution helps us to have control over the snow volumes, so we can place the exact snow heights of technical and saved snow.”</p>
Efficient snow management
Jonas Pålsson working with the Leica iCON alpine solutions on Idre Fjäll
Idre Fjäll also hosted the Speed Ski World Cup this year and created the steepest prepared track ‘Chocken’, or ‘shock’, for this purpose. Speed skiers can reach a speed of more than 200 kilometres per hour – this requires a 100 per cent build and groomed slope. To create the steepest groomed ski slope in Scandinavia, Idre Fjäll is using the iCON alpine solution.
Efficient snow management is required for hosting large competitions and helps to extend the skiing season for the entire resort. Geared with iCON alpine solution, Idre Fjäll was ready to open the cross-country ski trails and alpine slopes already in early autumn and the winter season will run until one week after Easter when summer activities take over.