High electricity prices fail to deter Otepää's winter sports centers

Snow canon in action in Otepää.
Snow canon in action in Otepää. Source: ERR

While some ski facilities are holding back on using artificial snow cannon this year, due to the soaring electricity prices, this is not the case in Otepää, Estonia's winter capital, where round-the-clock snow production has started on the slopes.

The hope is that these will be ready to skiers from next week, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday, as well as snowtubing runs for children.

Otepää, Valga County, is Estonia's winter sports capital, and is situated on comparatively elevated ground, surrounded by rolling hills and slopes and, perhaps most crucially, lies around 150km from the sea, meaning it is less subject to changeable weather than many locations in northern and western Estonia.

Manager of the Otepää snowtubing center Siim Kalda said that enough artificial snow is needed to build up the trackside embankments to make them safe for children.

Snowtubing is as its name suggests, an activity involving sliding downhill on a big, inflatable tube.

"Well, a lot of snow is needed anyway. If you can imagine the size of a liter can; we have 15 million of these here, meaning that 15 million liters of snow have been produced by tonight," Kalda told AK, against the backdrop of the machines working at full pace.

The arrival of the cold weather and light snowfall starting last week was the signal for the center to start work; once finished the snow should last to late April.

The nearby Kuutsemäe and Munamäe ski centers are also producing snow around the clock, not fearing any potential melting between now and spring.

Priit Tammemägi, who manages both centers, stressed that working quickly as soon as the cold weather starts is essential, as a thick layer of snow will last even in mild conditions.
"We have quickly produced more than half-a-meter of snow on one slope, and, barring any major mishap, this will withstand the melt until springtime," he said.

A feared thaw has however meant the snow machines stay in their garages for the time being at nearby Tähtvere, in Tartu, while, as reported by ERR News, those in Narva remain dormant while a solution is found

Kalda said that the electricity price was not an issue for his center.
"Whatever the cost of electricity, we have to be able to ski and sledge; we already get so little in the way of a winter here in Estonia. The costs will increase, but we do not plan to raise our prices this year. We are trying to manage somehow, and that is just how it is."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Aleksander Krjukov

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