Winter arrived so rapidly in Estonia late last week that many facilities were unprepared for the onslaught of snow.
This certainly happened in the eastern border town of Narva, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday, as a local sports center was caught between insufficient snowfall to open its ski trails, and too-high electricity prices to make up the difference with artificial snow.
Now sports people and health addicts are awaiting a city government decision on the matter, compounded by the fact that soaring electricity prices make the use of artificial snow unrealistic.
Snow blowers are in normal times pressed into action as soon as the mercury consistently dips below zero degrees, AK reported, not least since artificial snow is actually of better ski quality than its natural counterpart, but this year the machinery will lie dormant in its garages.
Vladimir Všivtsev, development manager at the Äkkeküla health and sports complex just to the northwest of the city said: "Last year, the problem had been that we reacted relatively quickly to the cold weather [by pressing into service the snow cannon] but when we got the next electricity bill, it came as a major shock, and we had make savings in other areas."
Cross-country skiing requires a snow layer of a minimum of 10cm thickness; the snowfall in Äkkeküla is currently only around 1cm (see cover image).
While those that want can still try to ski, Všivtsev this: "Must be in the form of mud skiing. The ski club's children's groups were able to practice on snow yesterday, but unfortunately an adult who wants to do the same won't get much enjoyment from it."
The cost of filling out the snow using machinery comes at a price tag of €15,000, which could only materialize courtesy of the Narva City Government, AK reported, an eventuality which may come to pass.
City mayor Katri Raik told AK that: "We are to blame for this. Our colleagues did not request the money; did not ask for it from the additional budget. However, better late than never and the production of artificial snow must be supported, especially in cities like Narva, where local residents have little money themselves to put towards such recreation."
The city government is to rule on the matter on Wednesday; should the project go ahead the ski trails will be fully ready in about a week-and-a-half, AK reported.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera