Skiing year-round thanks to the dry slope
How runs the business in the largest Dry Slope area in Middle Europe? Operator NÖVOG draws its first conclusions
In order to be less dependent on snow conditions, the organisers in Puchberg at the Schneeberg (AUT/near Vienna) decided to completely cover the previous exercise hill in plastic mats. They also planned to use the mat system in summer as well in order to draw visitors and tourists from nearby Vienna to Puchberg to try their luck on skis for the first time. The facility, accessed by two Sunkid conveyor belts, offers a summer tubing facility to visitors as well.
Let us find our whether and how the concept has met their expectations since the facility was opened in 2016 in our interview with technical manager Johann Uhl.
Mr Uhl, you have been close to the developments as a long-term employee and are able to assess them accordingly. How did the last year develop for you?
We need to look a little farther into the past first. We repositioned ourselves based on comprehensive analyses that came to the conclusion that the climate changes in the last years led to a reduction of operating days in the winter months. Forecasts didn't suggest that this was about to change again. This is why we decided to install a dry slope on an area of 5,000 m² where the children's area used to be. It permits skiing and snowboarding year-round, no matter the weather. Since it was opened at the end of 2016, we have been able to record a positive increase of the visitor numbers.
How is the dry slope accepted in summer? Do many visitors use the opportunity to go skiing in this season?
Yes, increasing visitor numbers tell us that repositioning as a year-round attraction was just the right thing to do.
How do the visitors like the dry slope? What do people who are standing on skis for the first time at all and sliding down the slope say? Are they afraid that they might hurt themselves when they fall on the mats?
Our visitors have a very positive attitude towards the mats. We only see fear of falling and injury during the first runs of some adults, but never among the children.
You operate one of the very few skiing areas in the world that do not rely on only one of two options, but combine both: snow and dry slopes. What are your experiences with this? How can you groom the dry slopes even when there is snow?
Grooming of the dry slopes with a regular snow groomer requires approx. 30 cm of fresh snow. We designed a special shield with a plastic mat screwed to it for a large quad. Grooming works impeccably with this.
What about the mats, though? Do they show any visible traces of wear already? Or is the system still running smoothly? (Note: The mats are serviced with a special paste to keep them from dulling. No water needs to be used)
The mat shows barely any wear. Regular application of the special paste is vital in summer – when the weather is very hot and dry. The lubrication device needed for this is pulled by a lawn mower tractor. And of course we do need to mow the grass to keep it as short as we can.
You installed a summer tubing system as well. How is this accepted? Are you planning to add any more attractions for the summer?
Our visitors greatly love the "Wiesenflitzer". Yes, we are adding another highlight to the wonder meadow with the PuchiCarts this year. They can run on the mats as well.
Thank you for the interview.
Johann Uhl, Technical manager in Puchberg at the Schneeberg:
"Comprehensive analyses show that our decision to invest in a year-round skiing attraction here in Puchberg was just the right thing to do. It has certainly paid off for us!"
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