Editor's Note: Indoor ski facilities serve a dual purpose, both allowing on-snow skiing in the off-season, and providing guaranteed snow during the winter. One may argue that the environmental cost of constructing and running such a facility is prohibitive, but there is no question that indoor skiing has a significant place in the sport's future. More facilities are planned in Europe, and it is likely we will see more indoor races over the next five years. There are a number of FIS Alpine races scheduled for indoor venues this season.
This article makes mention of “recycling the energy of the ski tunnel.” We are not clear on what this actually means, but will attempt to find out.
The popular new ski tunnel in Torsby, Sweden is approaching a new record for yearly visitors. So far this year 25,000 skiers have used the facility. Over half of these visitors are from Norway.
Last year the ski tunnel had 31,000 visitors. This year the manager, Maria Karlsson, is hoping to significantly increase that number. Earlier this year the Norwegian ski association negotiated a three year contract with the ski tunnel. During the summer the Norwegian national team was in Torsby for three training camps.
â€œThere are very many Norwegians here, but the Swedish contingent has also increased dramatically. In addition to the ski gymnasiums and the local clubs, the Vasaloppet citizen racers are starting to show up in October and November. Both children and adults are visiting, and it is one of great strengths that we attract a wide variety of skiers,â€ said Karlsson to langrenn.com.
How do you feel about the plan to construct a ski tunnel in Norway?
“It’s not so bad to have a little competition. It might even end up benefiting us.”
What plans do you have to expand the facilities in Torsby?
â€œThe area has a lot to offer beyond the ski tunnel. We have a rollerski loop, biathlon range, and a physiology testing center. Currently we are expanding with a nearby building that will have overnight facilities, a locker room, and space for testing. In addition, we have plans to begin construction on a conference center in the fall of 2008.”
How are the Economics?
â€œEconomically things are going quite well. We have invested in catering this year, and are constantly engaged in a dialogue about how to improve the whole facility. We have 1.5 years of experience and are continually looking forward to the next step.â€
How long will the tunnel stay open this year?
â€œThat depends on when the snow arrives. We have to change the snow in the tunnel during the season and it’s most practical to do this during the winter.â€
How many people can fit in the tunnel simultaneously?
“We have had 300 people simultaneously without any problem. We often get asked if there are a lot of people, but so far it hasn’t been a problem.”
The ski tunnel has plans to recycle the energy they use to preserve the temperature in the tunnel. In a month the tunnel will also be the host of a Europa Cup in biathlon.