Germany’s first ski tunnel will open this summer in Oberhof, where the 4th edition of the FIS Tour de Ski will start on January 1st, 2010. The new tunnel is now finished and the test period has begun. The track, which cost 14.5 million Euro, is 1.9 kilometers long, with hills up a 12 percent grade. In the next eight weeks the entire infrastructure will be tested, as well as snow and air quality. The official opening is planned for the 24th of August, but last week the venue was already being used by some of Germany’s top athletes. Starting in the end of August, the tunnel will also be open for the public.
According to an article in Sueddeutsche.de, a German newspaper, the tunnel will cost between 600,000 and 900,000 Euro a year to operate. It will also be used to create artificial snow for the cross country and biathlon World Cup races held in the town. Administrators claim that the environmental benefits from reduced team travel to glaciers and transport of snow to race venues will offset the problems posed by the tunnel’s construction, like the cutting of six hectares of forest.