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This Is How Vasaloppet Will Ensure Snow On The Tracks And Keep Artificial Snow Costs Down

For many years, artificial snow has been a prerequisite for carrying out Vasaloppet Week. Rampant prices for both electricity and fuel mean that Vasaloppet’s costs to secure ski tracks all the way to Mora will increase significantly in the coming winter. 

Photo: Carl Sandin/Bildbyrån

“We will work efficiently, but not at the expense of the participant experience,” says Vasaloppet’s sports manager Tommy Höglund.

Due to the skyrocketing electricity and fuel prices, Vasaloppet organization has started a project to review the costs of these areas.

“We have previously said that the cost of our snowmaking for the stretch between Oxberg and Mora is roughly one million kroner per 10 kilometers. And that estimate has proven to be correct. But now those costs will increase since the cost of, for example, electricity has risen significantly,” says manager Tommy Höglund.

Vasaloppet has three million kroner in its basic budget for snow production. Of this, the manufacturing cost of the artificial snow is 10-15 percent, and the remaining part is about the cost of transporting and laying out the artificial snow at Vasaloppet Arena.

And it’s about the last thirty kilometers of Vasaloppet track, from Oxberg into the finish in Mora, which is primarily in need of snow production in addition to the natural snow.

Statistics from SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) show that every three years, seen over the past decades, it was not possible to complete a Vasaloppet Week without artificial snow. This is due to a lack of natural snow on the stretch close to the finish.

“And slowly it’s getting worse, so in maybe ten years, it might be one time out of five that it’s possible to carry out that part without adding artificial snow,” says Höglund.

Vasaloppet. Photo: Magnus Östh/Ski Classics

What changes will be made for the coming winter?

“We will absolutely continue to make artificial snow, but we have previously put a fairly thick layer in the track base to be safe. We also have the plan to start making snow at a lower temperature; perhaps at minus seven (compared to the previous three-four), this because the snow production will then be more efficient,” says Höglund, who also plans for Vasaloppet to resume a method of using natural snow from the surrounding area:

“About 15 years ago, we had a system where we saved natural snow from, for example, forest roads and lake. That snow has a slightly lower quality, but then we can dilute the artificial snow with natural snow, this in parts where it is not so exposed to the weather; for example, in the areas up towards Hökberg where there is a denser forest around the track,” says Höglund.

Before the coming winter, there are already roughly 10,000 cubic meters of artificial snow saved from last winter, covered with tree bark, and placed at the ski stadium in Hemus:

“Vasaloppet and IFK Mora Ski Club pay for this, and the idea is that this should be laid out as early snow at the ski stadium and “as far as it goes” for a few kilometers on Vasaloppet track. This provides a good “base” for the winter with saved snow,” says Höglund.

Most of Vasaloppet’s snow production occurs at the timber terminal in Oxberg (where the start for, among other things, Tjejvasan takes place). Still, Vasaloppet also has a collaboration with Mora municipality for snow production at the ski stadium in Hemus, plus it has been tested using mobile snow cannons out on the track:

“That thing with mobile snow cannons is something we should look into more, but a disadvantage is that it requires completely different staffing and on-site care than it does with the snow production in Oxberg. What we have planned for the winter is that when we have produced 50,000 cubic meters of snow, we will shut down the snow production, and then we can add more from the beginning of February if it turns out to be necessary. One year we made too much snow, and then there was a snow cover of two or three meters above the starting point in Oxberg. It must not be like that this winter. It costs too much,” says Höglund.

But how much more expensive will the snow production be this winter?

“We don’t know. After all, all variable electricity contracts are such that you will know at the beginning of December what the cost was in November. But it will be more expensive. We will work on efficiency, but this should not be at the expense of the participant experience. Our participants are absolutely the most important thing to us, and they should have a positive experience from being here. Then the pandemic allowed us to make things a little smoother and more efficient. We will benefit from that going forward,” concludes Tommy Höglund.

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