Watch the seminar Snow on Tour

The Team behind the research and innovation project SNÖRIK* is inviting all interested in snow and skiing to watch the seminar Snow on Tour online. Snow on Tour; a two-part seminar that took place during the FIS Ski Tour 2020 in Östersund and Trondheim on February 14th and 21st 2020 respectively was recorded and is now available in short videos for every presentation. The seminars are in English and presents and discuss the latest findings and ideas in snow research from the project SNÖRIK and other European snow projects. Topics includethe future of snow production, snow storage, measuring snow quality, salting snow, snow collection by wind and flourine free ski waxing. 

*SNÖRIK – Snow research and innovation across the border is an Interreg Sweden-Norway project, managed by Peak innovation, Center for Sport facility and technology at NTNU university and Sports Tech Research center at Mid Sweden University. Read more about the project here.

Presentations in Östersund

Snow strategies in Östersund: Producing and storing snow

The Ski Arena in the Swedish town of Östersund offers a snow guarantee from November to April. Among the challenges are producing, storing and distributing the snow in a climate that gets warmer. Roger Hedlund at Östersund ski arena and Henrik Skoglund at SMI Snowmakers has many years of experience preparing good conditions for amateur skiers as well as international competitions. In this presentation they share their knowledge and insights about taking on this yearly challenge.

How to optimising snow storage in a warmer climate

For a couple of years Trondheim (Norway) and Östersund (Sweden) have been working together to share research and results from different techniques of snow storage. This includes monitoring the melt of the snow storage to measure the efficiency of the different techniques of snow storage. In addition, costs of different techniques have been evaluated and made into an analyse tool for snow storage economics. Since snow will become a rare occurrence in the years to come, this kind of research is essential for ski resorts and future competitions. Sondre Bergtun Auganaes is the head of the research project in Norway.

Snow fences - a sustainable method to collect snow

It has become painfully obvious during ski competitions that snow has become a scarcity. In the beginning of 2020, a vast number of championships and smaller events had to either change site or reduce the scope of the event. As the climate changes this challenge will increase. By optimizing an old common technique for stopping snow from drifting on roads, the snow research project ”SNÖRIK” has developed a way to accumulate snow using snow fences. This method for snow farming, makes it possible to accumulate and collect snow close to the ski tracks. Erik Melin Söderström och Søndre Bergtun Auganaes, both head of the research project in Sweden and Norway explains.

Cover materials - protecting snow from summer heat

When storing snow during spring, summer and fall you will need cover materials with optimal insulating qualities. The snow research project ”SNÖRIK” in Trondheim and Östersund is aiming to find out which material is best suited for the task. In addition, the cover material itself has to be sustainable or else it becomes part of the problem. So, what material gets the job done? Geotextiles, hemp or wool. Find out from Erik Melin Söderström, head of the research project in Sweden.

Cooling hospitals - snow as a natural coolant

In the Swedish town of Sundsvall the hospital has reduced its use of electricity for cooling by 90 percent. The new cooling system simply use dirty snow as a natural coolant. Reduced costs, reduced use of chemical coolants (like freons) and a long-term sustainable system are some of the main benefits. Cold water from melted snow enters the hospital and hot water leaves the hospital. The circuit is complete when the hot water is used to melt additional snow for cooling. Jan Lindberg, energy controller at Region Västernorrland explains how this simple solution became a reality, as well as an insight from other similar facilities in Norway and Japan through the “SNÖRIK” project.

Fluorine free skiing - phasing out PFAS from ski waxes

The man-made group of highly fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS, has proven hazardous for both humans and the environment. They are still allowed in ski waxes, but this is about to change. Within the EU, some PFAS-substances will be restricted in 2020 and the international skiing federation, FIS, has decided on a global ban for all PFAS-containing fluorowaxes in ski competitions from season 2020/2021. The goal of POPFREE, a project with RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) and Peak Innovation, is to promote the development of fluorine free alternatives to PFAS-based ski waxes. Lisa Skedung, researcher and project manager at POPFREE/RISE, tells us about the progress so far.

Presentations in Trondheim

Measuring snow quality (1) – How to detect different snow types

Different snow types reflect light differently. So old snow with bigger spherical grains will give a different signature than fresh snow. This is one of the techniques when measuring different snow qualities. Another one is using microscopes or even x-rays. At Luleå University of Technology the project Snow Academy (funded by the EU, Sparbanken and Region Norrbotten) is developing technologies for measuring snow quality for the vehicle and tyre manufacturers. Associate professor Johan Casselgren explains why the mechanical properties of snow, like grain size, density and water content, are important factors when preparing test tracks for vehicle and tire testing

Measuring snow quality (2) - how to get perfect skis

Preparing the perfect skis before a race is almost a ”mission impossible”. When taking everything into account (snow shape, temperature, humidity, effect of sun, time of day, etc) the final choice of choosing type of ski, structure and wax may be a real challenge. There are loads of parameters to consider, and the more you know, the better decision you can make. Felix Breitschädel, Head of Equipment and Technology at Olympiatoppen, explains the challenges in measuring snow and preparing the perfect skis to a competition.

Adding salt on snow (1) - hardening the snow surface

Using salt to improve and protect snow seems a bit contradictory. Especially since it is used on a large scale to keep roads clear from snow and ice. So how can salt make snow harder? In order for it to work a couple of conditions are required; free water in the snow and crystalized snow. Trond Kvamsdal, professor at NTNU, explains the chemistry and physics behind the phenomena.

Adding salt on snow (2) – practical example of protecting and improving snow quality

Using salt on top of snow can be a very effective way to improve snow quality and preserve it in warm weather. Geir Ødegaard Olsen has many years of experience of salt usage. His company Norwegian Snow Consulting has been involved in rescuing many championships. In this presentation he shares some of his knowledge and techniques concerning salt; when to use it, when not to use it and the difference in salt usage for alpine skiing and cross country.

Optimizing snow production in a changing climate

Everything points to a less reliable snow cover in the future. In the Alps the resorts have trouble timing the start of the snow production. The resorts often either end up with a snow layer that is too thin in the beginning of the season, or a layer that gets too thick and remains far into the summer. The EU-funded project PROSNOW aims at an advanced web interface as a tool to make simulations of future snow cover, making it possible to optimize snow production. Scientist Pirmin Ebner at the WSL-institute in Davos, explains how the PROSNOW tool can be used by the ski resorts.

The future of snow – Snow management, production, storage and more (panel discussion)

As snow production becomes more efficient and the methods for storage, distribution and snow storage gets better, the prospects for competitions and resorts looks brighter. On the other hand, it’s a race against global warming. As the scarcity of ”the white gold” increases, ski resorts and nations will have to take different measures to make sure skiing is still there in 50 years. So where are we now and what can we expect in the years to come? Panel discussion about the best strategy for the future.

Panel members:
– Camilla Claussen (Research manager SINTEF) 
– Pirmin Ebner (PROSNOW, Scientist at WSL-Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos)
– Jonas Henriksson (CEO at F3 Snow)
– Geir Olsen (Norwegian Snow Consulting)
– Erik Melin Söderström (Snow project Manager at Peak Region, Östersund)

Fluorine free glide (1) - a ski research race to a new market

Facing a ban on fluorinated ski waxes due to their hazardousness for both humans and the environment, the market for skis and waxes is trembling. Either a company develops a new product and takes the market lead, or it will risk bankruptcy. Nano2glide is a research project, by the most part funded by the ski industry (Madshus, IDT and Swix). The goal is to develop a whole new concept of glide on skis, without the harmful water repellent chemical PFAS. To achieve this, they are not only looking at finding a new wax, instead all factors (ski sole, ski structure and ski wax) are consider in the aim for better glide. The project is well on its way to collect field data. Professor Alex Klein-Paste offers more insight on Nano2glide.

Fluorine free glide (2) - Methods to detect PFAS in competitions

The international skiing federation, FIS, has decided on a global ban for all PFAS-containing fluorowaxes in ski competitions from season 2020/2021. The ban on PFAS needs regulations and proper sanctions for skiers who break the rules.  But in order to get an acceptance for the ban on fluorinated ski waxes, FIS need to rely on safe and accurate testing methods to detect PFAS on skis during competitions. Senior scientist Martin Schlabach and his colleagues at NILU have developed a method for detection, that is now being tested. He is convinced a ban on PFAS is both possible and necessary to protect the cross-country disciplines from bad public reputation.