NORTHERN SNOW-HOW Snow is forecast to become a new export product for Finland, with a flurry of interest coming all the way from India and South Africa. By Pekka Säilä Photographs by Naturpolis photo library inter technologies and the related Finnish "snowhow" have started attracting attention in many countries that normally don't see snowfall. In addition to ski tunnels and slalom slopes, today there are a number of different artificial snow worlds. From comprehensive design to the technology that makes artificial snow a reality, the expertise can be found in Finland. Finnish Snow Secure Ltd offers guaranteed snow and new snow innovations in a cost-effective and eco-friendly way. The company has provided professional assistance to the Himalayan Ski Village (hsv) project in India. The world-class ski resort is under construction at elevations between 2 and 4 kilometres in the Kullu Valley of the Himalayas. "Our participation in the Himalayan project started with a Finpro initiative in 2006. Finpro's mission is to support international growth of Finnish companies," says the owner of Snow Secure, Mikko Martikainen. "Things moved very quickly: By December of the same year, top executives from the hsv project were travelling here to visit the Ruka ski resort. The following February we visited the Himalayas, where we skied the slopes just like we used to when we were kids: walking up the slope with skis on our shoulders and then skiing down," Martikainen laughs. That same spring, Snow Secure invited 40 young Indians who are in training to be ski instructors to learn more about Finnish know-how and the best local slopes. W John Sims, Managing Director of hsv, has noted that the collaboration between Finland and India creates a foundation for the ski culture emerging in India, and also paves the way for others interested in developing winter sports. Totally new snow experiences At the Snowpolis Technology Park at Vuoka i in northern Finland, several companies are exploring new dimensions of snow, ice and cold. SnowTek, for example, designs and manufactures comprehensive systems for indoor and outdoor snow generation, as well as Cool Track refrigerated tracks. "We also manufacture the refrigeration and ventilation systems used in combination with the snow-generating technology for indoor snow worlds," says SnowTek's Managing Director Hannu Pesonen. SnowTek equipment can generate 2,000 cubic meters of snow in 24 hours, enough to build a snow base on a ski slope. Pesonen assures customers that snow can be generated even in very warm ambient temperatures. He notes that there is a demand for "snow-how" in some very surprising places: "Many countries that don't typically have snow are planning snow world concepts that will use snow in a variety of different ways." The company's focus is almost entirely on export markets. There are some 40 snow projects currently under way in other countries. "In Russia, for instance, the snow business is becoming part of the world of experiences at huge shopping malls. Additionally, snow-how is needed in the more traditional ski tunnels and in indoor slalom and snowboard slopes, which are as much as 600 meters long," says Pesonen. A fresh perspective Martikainen believes the project provides an opportunity to look at ski resorts and tourism from a fresh perspective in terms of ski instruction methods and snow-generating systems. The ski culture in India is still young, so people are open to questioning the established technologies and service practices around the world. In addition to India, Snow Secure has also set its sights on other countries, including China. At the moment, China has close to 300 ski resorts, and 20 or so new ones are starting up every year. And there are also plenty of opportunities elsewhere. "I'm going to Cyprus to check out the conditions in the Troodos Mountains, and a group of people from the Caucasus Mountains will be visiting us," says Martikainen. Ruka is one of the Finnish ski resorts that has been investing in year-round operations for years now. Snow-generating technology and the region's natural snow security guarantee that the ski season spans from October to June. Martikainen is confident that the collaboration on the Himalaya project will also open new windows for travel to Finland. It's almost a guarantee in India with the nonstop flights between the two countries. FOCUS 2008 11
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