January 30, 2014

Finnish experts guarantee snow in Sochi

"There will be snow in Sochi, we guarantee it," Mikko Martikainen, managing director of Snow Secure says confidently.
"There will be snow in Sochi, we guarantee it," Mikko Martikainen, managing director of Snow Secure says confidently.
Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa

The Finnish company Snow Secure will make sure there is plenty of snow at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February, no matter the conditions. Two other Finnish companies, Onninen and All-Weather SnowTek, are also prepped for the snowy task.

Snow Secure specialises in solving snow-related challenges and is in charge of the snow contingency master plan for the Sochi Winter Olympics. The company has been providing the Olympics organisers with expert snow services for the past three years. In this role Mikko Martikainen, managing director, Snow Secure, has visited the mountains of Sochi dozens of times.

“It is always winter in Sochi, and its mountains offer ideal conditions for ski resorts,” Martikainen says. “However, when it comes to the Olympics, they wanted to leave nothing to chance. Storing snow to ensure a sufficient supply of it is like having insurance.”

In addition to normal conditions, the snow contingency plan addresses extreme weather conditions, such as the warmest winter in 150 years. Should the winter be warm, problems with snow may arise at altitudes less than 1 400 meters, which is where many of the Olympic sports venues are located.

Snow is money

The amount of snow required for the Sochi Olympics exceeds one million cubic meters. The situation is currently good, as the amount of snow stored during the previous winter totalled some 450 000 cubic meters at the end of November, and thanks to the cold December weather, the ordinary snow-making systems could be used to create some more.

“All snow-making equipment in modern ski resorts turn water into snow with the help of sub-zero outdoor temperatures,” Martikainen explains. “The condition of ski slopes can also be secured by storing snow over the summer or by making snow with equipment capable of functioning in above-zero temperatures.”

Twelve years ago, Martikainen developed a snow storing concept, which is now in use throughout Europe for winter sports.

“Storing snow is an ecological and economic way of ensuring sufficient snow,” Martikainen says. “It creates savings and additional revenues for the client. Snow is money.”

Just in case

The Sochi Olympics’ ski jumping centre also resorts to Finnish experts when it comes to ensuring snow supply. Onninen’s snow-making equipment, capable of producing snow in above-zero temperatures, can produce about 10 000 cubic meters of snow for the Nordic combined ski tracks, if necessary.

Onninen’s partner and equipment manufacturer is the Finnish company All-Weather SnowTek, which has long experience in the field. The system delivered to Sochi is able to guarantee the production of snow even when the outside temperature is +10°C, and even in rain.

The companies owning the venues are responsible for the detailed planning of the Olympics, and purchasing and operation of the snow-making systems. They are supported by several Russian and foreign snow expert companies and personnel.

Text by: Sari Okko

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