Ski Vermont resorts will not be waiting around for Mother Nature to be gracious enough to deliver snow timeously during the 2014-2015 snow sport season. It was recently announced that resorts represented by non-profit trade association Ski Vermont, together with Efficiency Vermont, will be undertaking a $15 million upgrade of the ski area’s snowmaking system to ensure skiers and riders will be able to hit the slopes when the season begins.
In addition to bringing business to the area, the upgrade makes sense from an environmental point of view. Up to 1,800 older model snow guns will be scrapped and 2,300 new low energy snow guns will be installed for the upcoming season. To determine what models of snow guns would be most suitable to meet Ski Vermont’s goals, engineers from Efficiency Vermont conducted tests on fifteen different models, taking note of water, air and energy consumption, as well as their overall performance. Advances in technology have resulted in new model snow guns using up to 85% less energy to operate than older snowmaking equipment. It is anticipated that the upgraded snow guns will result in saving of around $2 million per annum, while attracting more snow sport enthusiasts to the area, thereby contributing to the economic welfare of the state.
While the energy saving of the new equipment is significant, snow sport fans will no doubt be thrilled that it will produce better quality snow and has the capability to create slopes even when temperatures are above ideal, thereby extending Vermont’s snow skiing and snowboarding season.
Vermont Ski Areas Association President, Parker Riehle, noted that an upgrade of this magnitude has never been seen before, going on to thank Efficiency Vermont for its dedication to the Vermont ski industry. Snow skiing and snowboarding are the official state sports of Vermont, which is a leading international snow sport destination.
The Perisher Cup first took place in 1953 and is one of Australia’s most prestigious ski competitions as well as being a great interclub social weekend. Each four-member team must compete in all three events – Giant Glalom, Cross Country and Jump – to achieve the best aggregate score. For more information visit www.perisher.com.au
Date: 20 September 2014
New South Wales, Australia
Starting with XC Freestyle and XC Relay on Wednesday 10 September, the Subaru Australian Interschools Snowsports Championships include Snowboard GS, Snowboard X, Moguls, Skier X, and Alpine. Online Entries and Volunteer Registrations Close 3 September. For more information and to register visit ausinterschools.com.au/
Dates: 10-14 September 2014
New South Wales, Australia
Open to skiers and boarders from 8 years-old and up, the PlayStation Night Slopestyle Series’ third and last event for the season takes place on 2 September at Perisher. Cash and prizes up for grabs, so don’t miss it. For more information visit www.perisher.com.au
Date: 2 September 2014
State: New South Wales
While Australia’s resorts revel in recent snowfalls, south-east neighbor New Zealand has not been so lucky. With winter entering its third month, some resorts have been unable to open, while others are relying heavily on snow-making equipment. Larger resorts at high altitudes may be able to drum up some business with snow-guns providing cover for slopes, but smaller ski areas, some of which operate as non-profit organizations with the help of volunteers, don’t have snow-making facilities, and even if they did, the warmer than usual winter weather currently being experienced would likely melt any man-made snow.
Even critics of climate change may be obliged to rethink their stance as scientists in various parts of the world call attention to shrinking glaciers and melting permafrost. This has been visibly evident at the iconic Southern Alps Franz Josef glacier, a major attraction in New Zealand’s Westland Tai Poutini National Park. A recent aerial study of New Zealand’s Southern Alps mountain range carried out by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) reveals that since 1977 the region has lost up to 34% of its permanent ice and snow. Although New Zealand’s glaciers have had three periods of growth during the 1970s and 1980s brought about by temporary changes in the Pacific climate system, rising average temperatures have wiped out these growth spurts and are causing glaciers to diminish. This is impacting on tourism, with the Mount Cook area being a prime example, as glacier tours have turned into viewings of floating icebergs.
New Zealand ski operators are definitely being negatively impacted by the country’s warmest weather on record for this time of year, and while remaining hopeful for some late snowfall, some may have to accept the possibility of this season being a washout. Hopefully, one bad season is not the beginning of a trend.
The snow sport industry has been identified by the United Nations Environment Program as being one of the most vulnerable industries when it comes to being affected by climate change. With average winter temperatures rising, and the first snowfalls happening later and later, it is becoming increasingly difficult for resorts to run for the number of days they would have in the past. Even resorts with comprehensive snowmaking equipment are finding temperatures too warm to maintain ski-worthy slopes at the beginning and end of the season. Snow skiing areas at lower elevations appear to be most at risk for losing income, as many lack the resources to deal with the drop in natural snowfall and shortening of snow sport seasons.
Founded in 2007 by Jeremy Jones, a pro snowboarder who took note of resorts closing due to lack of snow, Protect Our Winters (POW) aims to “unite and actively engage the global snow sports community to lead the fight against climate change.” POW launched the “POW Riders Alliance” consisting of fifty-two professional snow sport athletes who are dedicated to fighting climate change. These alliance members are committed to making others – sponsors, fans, students, media, etc. – aware of the problems facing the snow sport industry. POW representatives have been to Capitol Hill to discuss with members of Congress the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon standards, and have hand delivered a letter signed by seventy-five professional athletes to the White House urging President Obama to act on clean energy and climate change.
In addition to numerous other climate change awareness projects, under the banner of the POW7, the organization has compiled a list of seven things individuals can do to fight climate change. Visit the POW website to find out how you can get involved.
This popular annual event features participants competing in their Interschools Division, with medals awarded to the top three female and male competitors in each division. Overall Male, Female, Secondary and Primary ACT School Cups are calculated from points earned. For more information visit snowsportsact.com.au
Date: 7 Sept 2014
State: New South Wales
The Balmain Cup is Australia’s oldest interclub snowsports competition and has been going for 76 years. The program includes slalom, giant slalom, snowboard giant slalom and cross country. The cup was donated in 1936 by the Balmain brothers who ran a bus service in the area. For more information on this exciting evnet visit www.snowsportsact.com.au/Balmain_Cup.html
Date: 30 August 2014
State: New South Wales
After a very slow start to the 2014 season in June, Australian ski resorts are celebrating massive snowfalls which have left some areas covered in more than a meter of snow – just in time for the country’s mid-year school holidays. Communications and Media Manager of Australia’s biggest resort, Samantha Hales, noted that there will be more than forty lifts operating at Perisher, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega this weekend. Staff members at the resort are working hard at grooming snow, building lift tracks and ensuring that the ski areas are safe for the influx of guests expected at the weekend.
Referring to the bountiful snowfall as ‘Snowmageddon 1.0′, Mount Hotham has already got lifts going and is anticipating excellent school holiday snow skiing and snowboarding activity. With predictions of more snow – ‘Snowmageddon 2.0′ – the resort is geared up to receive guests with all the facilities needed for loads of snow sport fun.
With gold being discovered in the remote region of the Victorian Alps in 1851, skiing was born out of necessity for the miners in the area. As roads were developed by mining companies, skiing was no longer the most efficient way to travel, but during the 1920s recreational skiers discovered Mount Hotham and development of the area as a ski resort followed.
Located at 1861 meters in the Victorian Alps northeast of Melbourne, Mount Hotham has a ski area of 320ha with superb beginner terrain (20% of area), intermediate terrain (40% of area) and advanced terrain (40% of area). Its longest downhill run is 2.5 km, and it has uphill lift capacity of 24,485 per hour, with snowmaking facilities to augment natural snowfall on slopes.
Australia’s ski areas experienced one of the warmest May months in years, and June produced very little snow, with some areas, including Treble Cone at Wanaka, having their sparse snow cover washed away by rain. Climate scientists confirmed that June temperatures were well above average, further fueling fears that 2014 may be a disappointing season. But all that changed when snow started falling, and excitement is mounting as snow sport enthusiasts plan to head for the slopes in July, and Australia’s ski resorts are ready and waiting with a snow-laden welcome.
Described as a cross between snowboarding and BMX, snowscoots are an exciting and novel addition to the ever-growing array of snow-sport equipment. Consisting of two boards with handlebars and foot straps, snowscoots are highly maneuverable as riders can steer as well as use their body movement to change direction, while reaching similar speeds to those attained by snowboarders and snow skiers. The majority of ski resorts in Europe have sanctioned the use of snowscoots, but North American resorts reportedly have yet to embrace the concept.
The first snowscoot prototype was created in 2003 by Philippe Lasala, who went on to found Black Mountain Downhill Design, the manufacturer and distributor of a range of snowscoots and other equipment. The snowscoot made its debut appearance during the World Cup in Pra-Loup, France, with the first competitions taking place in 2004. The concept was readily accepted by adventurous snow sport fans and by 2006 up to 50% of France’s resorts were offering snowscooting as one of their activities. By 2010, a number of ski areas in Switzerland had sanctioned the use of snowscoots, and it continues to gain thrill-seeking fans.
Snow sport enthusiasts in the UK can try out snowscooting at Chill Factore in Manchester – an indoor snow sport venue with a 180 meter slope boasting real snow. In addition to skiing, snowboarding and snowscooting, snow tubing offers a whole lot of fun with minimal risk. Instructors are on hand for beginners, while more experienced skiers can take the opportunity to brush up on their skills. There is also a Snow Play area and a Snow Park, with organized events increasing the fun factor of an awesome family outing. Certainly, there are many good reasons to add snowscooting to your list of snow-based activities.