Ski resorts in southeast Estonian enjoying last of the winter snow

While in other parts of Estonia, spring is supposedly on the way, in the Haanja Upland, the abundant snow has given winter sports enthusiasts in the southeast of the country plenty to be happy about.

In the southeast of Estonia, it seems like winter is here to stay, and winter sports enthusiasts are taking full advantage. At the Kütioru Center, sight of Estonia's highest ski slope, the main way to get around, even at this time of year, is by snowmobile, something which has attracted many schoolchildren.

"I've been here for two days. On one day I brought my skis and on the other day I took my snowboard," said high school student Saskia Klooster from Haapsalu.

Kristi Jeenas from Tallinn said, that at this time of year, when it comes to vacations, there are two options. "You can either go skiing or take a trip to a warm country," she said.

Andres Toode from Tartu said, that at the center there is something for everyone. "If you want to jump, you can jump, and if you want to go snowtubing, you can do that," he told ERR.

80 percent of the ski center's visitors are teenagers. They come to Kütioru from all over Estonia via the school program set up by the ski center, which provides opportunities for young people to develop a passion for downhill skiing.

"They come by car from morning till night. Their parents bring them here and then come back to pick them up in the evening," said Kütioru Center board member Imre Viilukas.

"Some of our partners say that we're like babysitters, because people bring their kids to stay with us for the day,"  he said.

A couple of kilometers away in Haanja, schoolboy Oskar Trumm said, that he was really enjoying the snowy conditions, which are great for cross-country skiing.

"It's great to ski and just enjoy it. The trails in Haanja are really awesome. The descents are awesome and the ascents are awesome too," he told ERR.

While some, like Oskar are simply making the most of the ideal weather conditions, others are busy preparing for the Haanja Ski Marathon, which is due to take place on Saturday. Timo Palo, who is in charge of preparing the course for the event, has been hard at work on the most difficult part of the track, the infamous Mõrvar climb.

"The thing about this climb is, that the angle is so steep that usually we can't even get up here with a tractor. We've had to make a special detour so that we can drive the tractor down here and then we're going to reverse it," Palo explained.

Palo, who has a degree in geography, also offered an explanation as to why Haanja continues to enjoys winter weather when spring is already in bloom elsewhere.

"Let other people think what they want, but when we say here that we live in the mountains, we mean it, we do live in the mountains. It is the extra 200 meters here that makes the difference compared to many places in Estonia," he said.

Haanja accumulates its own snow in the winter, and by spring it clearly has the most left, because it doesn't melt away here like it does everywhere else," Palo said.

In his view, unless the spring is exceptionally warm, it should be possible to keep on enjoying winter sports in the Haanja Uplands until mid-April.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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