The men's downhill course is 3122 meters long with a width of approximately 100 meters. That's the surface of an airport runway. When, overnight, there is 10 centimeters of snowfall and wind gusts causing drifts, there's the equivalent of 30 000 cubic meters of snow. We all know how insanely hard it is to clear an average garage driveway off snow. Imagine this driveway with the dimensions of a runway. Now, imagine that the driveway is uneven. Stövelbranten on the men's course has the slope of 69% and an icy surface. And that's not icy as in ”it’s a bit icy today” but actual ice. Rock solid. That's where you are expected to shovel snow. By hand. Not with a snow-blower, but with a shovel.
This might to be one of those things that need to be experienced to be understood. No matter what, the FIS World Ski Championships need people who can remove snow in those conditions. Massive amounts of snow, even at night atop Mount Åre. Often over and over again. Indeed, they need people who are ready to work until the job is done, 24 hours a day if needed. Luckily Åre 2019 has a large group of people willing to do that, day after day. They are the heroes of these championships.
Snowfall is unpredictable. No matter what the event program. And every time, the result is: all hands on deck. The workforce handling the snow on the mountain during Åre 2019 consists of 5 supervisors each with a team of 20. These teams are divided into two shifts, which, if required, work around the clock. In addition there are volunteers who are slipping and shoveling by hand. They have 400 shovels, snow-sledges andhandheld motorized snow-shovels at their disposal. Heavy equipment can only be used as the last resort. But if that is necessary,there are snowcats, four- and six-wheelers, and snow blowers available 24 hours a day because all snow cannot be removed by hand. The slope crews run on coffee and power bars. They are a central part in making the Championship successful, and in providing the athletes the opportunity to compete in fair and safe conditions when it comes to snow. They are the people who truly make the Championships happen!
Good to know about base preparation
For major championships lasting 14 days or more, the competition slopes are “injected” with water to ensure that they will remain hard enough and in good condition to handle the required number of training runs and the competition program. Injection means that water is inserted into the snow at high pressure and that water is added on the surface as well. Before that, the snow surface is broken with a snow cat. For the slopes to be able to meet the requirements of safe and fair conditions and the equipment used by ski racers especially in the speed events, the slopes will need to be extremely hard on the surface. Dry snow requires more water to be injected than wet snow. The entire slope is prepared to prevent injuries if riders get stuck in the looser snow on the edges of the track.