Half-time at the World Championships in St. Moritz! The event has been a huge success – with all the highs and lows, with surprising winners and big disappointments, with fog and sunshine – with everything that makes such an event.
One thing is certain: the preparations relating to snow grooming and to the “most sustainable world championships in snow management” went smoothly. Everything that we planned so intensively with the local managers has now been implemented convincingly. Even the athletes confirmed the daily high-quality of the slopes in several interviews. Shortly before the start of the World Championships, we spoke to Reto Bieri, the man responsible for the slopes and snow-making at Engadin St. Moritz Mountains AG, about the final stages of snow grooming.
PistenBully: What is your main focus – just before the World Championships start – when it comes to grooming?
Reto Bieri: Right now we are working to create the racing slopes. We lay the foundations to handle 2 weeks of races. You need a compact snow cover of approx. 60 to 70 cm to cope with the demands of the technical disciplines as well.
PistenBully: What is relevant now for the sustainability of the World Championships?
Reto Bieri: We had to realise the crucial elements for sustainability quite a while ago to ensure that everything would run smoothly now: vehicle technology, operating processes and training. We dealt with that a while ago.
PistenBully: A complex snow concept was developed in summer. Have the expected savings in snow production been achieved? Is there enough snow?
Reto Bieri: I can answer that with a yes very easily. We have reduced snow production by 10 to 15 %. We started on the next round of optimisation straight after the slopes were created, working with the snow groomer drivers. After an early winter with very little rain, I am also proud to say that there is enough snow. And we were able to stop snow production at Corviglia on 20th December.
PistenBully: Are the tips from training now bearing fruit in “acute” practice?
If yes, which and how.
Reto Bieri: Adrian Mattli and Florian Profanter worked with us intensively for 2 days in December, discussing various aspects in detail. The combination of tips from Florian Profanter and the technical refinements of SNOWsat from Adrian Mattli have helped us enormously. We had already defined a process last summer, however, which is now continually being refined and promises even more potential for improvement in future.
PistenBully: Are the drivers now driving more effectively with less environmental impact?
Reto Bieri: A change in thinking is tangible and can also be quantified thanks to SNOWsat. You also need a underlying change in philosophy though. We're working on another 1 to 3 years before we've achieved optimum performance.
PistenBully: Are things easier?
Reto Bieri: Any initial scepticism has disappeared and the possibilities with grooming are enormous. And once you've driven with SNOWsat you simply can't go “back”!
PistenBully: How has SNOWsat helped you with slope construction (snow management, shifting the snow etc.)?
Reto Bieri: SNOWsat has been a massive help to us during the last 2 winters that have seen little natural snow. We were able to add additional slope areas with the volume of snow we produced, giving our visitors a bigger range of skiing options to choose from.
PistenBully: Many thanks for talking to us, Mr Bieri!