How do you open a ski resort in October, before the first snow and without the help of snow guns? Save it all from the last season, stockpile it under a tarp, and hope it doesn’t melt.
That is exactly what Ruka Ski Resort in Finland did. They opened on Oct. 10, as advertised.
Last winter Ruka made 30,000 cubic meters of snow and piled it into three huge mounds, half of which melted over the Arctic summer. What remained was spread over a slope almost a quarter mile long. The base is a solid three feet thick and skiers can swoosh comfortably back and forth 65 feet from side to side.
At first glance, opening on the 10th hour of the 10th day of the 10th month of the year appears to be a marketing gimmick but there may also be a link to climate change.
In a video posted on Ruka’s website Enni Rukajarvi, a professional snowboarder, says “it seems like winter begins later each year. That’s why Ruka has developed a method of storing snow over the summer.”
The predictability now of when the season will start allows Rukajarvi to train early in the season in her homeland instead of having to travel to glaciers in the Alps.
A spokesperson for Ruka says that snow storage is also good for the environment. According to Ruka’s Operational Director Matti Parviainen, that’s because it’s more energy efficient to make snow in the middle of the winter when temperatures are very cold than in the fall when temperatures are warmer. Do they factor in the amount of diesel fuel it takes for the snowcats to spread it all around? Don’t know — but they plan on storing more snow this winter and opening even earlier for the 2017 season.
— PlanetSKI Snow News (@planetski) October 12, 2016
— Ruka Ski Resort (@rukaskiresort) October 10, 2016