The snow-down on artificial snow

December 17, 2014

Artificial snow is produced on many ski hills, but what’s the advantage of artificial snow and what does it change for you when you’re going down that slope?

The snow-down on artificial snow

Why were snow cannons even invented?

It’s hard to accurately foretell the snow conditions for the long term and sometimes nature doesn’t keep them ideal for the entire season. That’s why skiers and inventors have been interested in making snow. One of the first snow-making machines was patented in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that a more practical and functional snow-cannon with an air compressor hit the market. Improvements have since been made to the devices, including the addition of a fan and nucleating agent improvements to portability, and the integration of electronics to control snow-making machines. Today, the quality of the snow produced largely depends on the quality of the equipment used.

What does it improve?

Making artificial snow allows for a longer snow season. If the first snowfall comes late one winter, the accumulation of snow may take too long for ski hills to really take advantage of a long season. So by making snow, you can hit the slopes even before your winter holiday break! Making artificial snow also allows ski hill maintenance crews to patch up areas where the snow is lighter, making it safer for skiers. After all, you wouldn’t want to ski over patches of rock!

How does that affect your gear?

Better snow cannons are able to reproduce snow conditions that are pretty close to regular snow once it has been maintained. It’s never quite as soft and powdery as a mother nature’s freshest snowfall. Artificial snow creates crystals that are larger than natural ones, a bit like tiny sleet crystals.

How do you keep your gear in good shape?

A good way to start is to apply a wax on the base of your skis, which is the bottom part that comes into direct contact with the snow. Hot waxes are the best, but you can use cold waxes that are less effective. Waxing your skis will ensure the base of your skis slide nicely and smoothly. It will also protect your skis from kinks and scratches. You can also get different types of skis for different conditions or different styles of riding, but most skiers will just stick to one pair and ride them no matter what the conditions are. If you want to keep your skis in better condition, hop into your ski equipment store and ask your salesperson for products to help you prolong the life of your skis or for the best wax to protect against the hill’s current conditions. Happy skiing!

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