When the top slalom skiers in the world race down Levi Black slope this weekend, they are relying on the work of Finnish snow experts.
With eleven World Cup contests accomplished, Levi resort is a seasoned Alpine ski event organiser. This year, Mother Nature has made the task laborious by turning the thermostat up. Snow is scarce, but the piste is in perfect condition.
In 2015, FIS snow control cancelled the event because of lack of snow.
“The event is important both for the ski resort and the region. We decided that we had to make sure that we had snow, in order to secure Levi World Cup in the future. We did this with snow depots”, says Jouni Palosaari, who chairs the organising committee.
Levi turned to world-famous snow whisperer Mikko Martikainen for help. Martikainen, the CEO of Snow Secure Ltd. has built his career on studying snow and its preservation both in Finland and abroad. He was the official snow expert in Sochi Olympic Winter Games and he travels regularly to advise Chinese sport event organizers in the art of snow.
In Levi, Mikko Martikainen helped the Levi World Cup organising committee to explore various snow conservation techniques. Eventually they opted for thick construction felt that they use to cover the snow depots. The white blanket reflects sun away, and the method is cost-effective and environmentally friendly, as the felt can be used again.
The first snow depots were stacked on Levi Black in the spring of 2016. This year, 40000 cubic metres of snow were stored in two different piles, and when the covers taken off a month ago, the exceptionally hot summer had melted off about 50 % of the snow. At least 15 000 cubic metres of snow are required for the world cup event, so there was plenty left to distribute on the slope.
“Snow-farming over the past years, maximum investments in snowmaking capacity and of course the passion to the ski sport”, Alpine race director Markus Mayr from FIS summed the efforts of Levi.
The skiers are now ready to hit the slopes.
Mikko Martikainen keeps on creating new techniques to help us all enjoy snow and snow sports. He promises the launch of new, revolutionary snow innovations when Ruka Nordic opens next week.
Photos (c) Levi World Cup.
Top of page: Preserved snow is distributed on the slope.
End of page: Snow depot on Levi Black in the summer. Photo Anette Latva-Piikkilä.