Estonia's ski resorts expect to meet winter demand despite energy crisis

Artificial snow machine.
Artificial snow machine. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Ski resorts in southeast Estonia are getting ready for the winter season. Despite high energy prices, they still expect to have enough electricity and snow to satisfy demand for downhill and cross-country skiing.

At the Haanja Recreation and Sports Center, artificial snow can be produced using a diesel generator. According to center manager Anti Saarepuu, this winter just enough snow will be produced to meet demand.

"We have a diesel generator at the pumping station, and diesel heating has become so much more expensive that it affects us too much," said Saarepuu.

"The targets we have made every year of two to two and a half kilometers (of track) under artificial snow, we can also manage this season. The price of electricity has gone up nearly threefold, but at the same time, we have also made some worthwhile investments. Last year we replaced all the lighting on the ski slope. So, I think the total price is about the same as usual, but the trail preparation and other costs are definitely a bit higher than usual," Saarepuu said.

In Põlva, according to Deputy Mayor Koit Nook, a company has been chosen to ensure the trails at the Mammaste ski resort are kept in good condition for the next two winters.

"The winner of the tender will guarantee the production of (artificial) snow and trail maintenance for this and the next winter," said Nook.

 "The trail must be skiable – that's the main thing, the rest is just about the details. There is a fixed amount of money for this, which the winner of the tender has promised to provide," said Nook.

Imre Viilukas, a member of the management board of the Kütioru Recreation and Ski Center in Võru County said, that this year there will also be some improvements made to the center's facilities.

"We are installing a new lift on the slope. Last year, the lift we had was too small for us, especially on Saturdays when there were long queues and a lot of complaints, so we decided that, despite the challenging times, we would install a new one anyway," said Viilukas.

At the same time, Viilukas acknowledged that high electricity prices mean the center will have to consider how much electricity to use, and when, during the upcoming season, much more so than in previous years.

"In the old days, you just put the (artificial snow) cannons to work and watched the snow fall, but now we have to start thinking and planning a bit more, said Viilukas.

"If the price is still three times more expensive, you have to save a bit more. When it comes to snowmaking, we take it one slope at a time. We do one slope, then, each day we see how the prices are looking, then we decide when to the next slope. We have seven slopes in total, so we will prepare them one by one as winter approaches," said Viilukas.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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