LINKing Turns: The future of cryogenic snowmaking, get ski fit and Vail layoffs

Midwest Ski Journal likes to highlight a few pieces of skiing internet worth your time in LINKing Turns. Find the best, most important, least important and otherwise links here each week. 

This week we look at a phenomenal piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about the future of cryogenic snow before examining some ways to get fit for your ski season and why Vail is laying off employees despite earnings increases.

TURN 1: Cryogenic snow was the foundation of Atlanta’s Big Air skiing and snowboarding event. Utahns say it could be the future. (Julie Jag/The Salt Lake Tribune)

U.S. Freeskiing held a VISA Big Air event in a Major League ballpark this weekend, but in order to do so, they had to manufacture 800 tons of snow.

Cryogenic snow is shaped into a landing for a Visa Big Air event in Atlanta, GA. (U.S. Ski and Snowboard/Facebook)

That’s because the two-day event was held at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, where there is no snow and no climate to support traditional snowmmaking.

Julie Jag of the Salt Lake Tribune put together this fantastic piece about the cryogenic snowmaking process and Polar Europe, the company that has done so in San Francisco, Barcelona and Jamaica.

So, organizers had to get creative. Like science experiment creative. Cryogenic snow creative.

They turned to a company called Polar Europe, which makes synthetic snow by combining liquid nitrogen, water and compressed air. Snow guns shoot the mixture into tubular tents positioned along the scaffolding, from which it falls onto the track almost like real snow.

“They bring in huge generators that make snow. They basically spit out Dippin’ Dots,” said Colby Stevenson, a Team USA freeskier from Park City who competed in Atlanta. “That’s how I think about it.”

Julie Jag/The Salt Lake Tribune
The setting for Visa Big Air at Suntrust Park in Atlanta, GA. (U.S. Ski and Snowboard/Facebook)

Jag went on to ponder if cryogenic snow could be the future for ski resorts during low-snow years. If so, could it be a mainstay in non-traditional ski communities? Or a way for Midwest ski areas to lengthen their seasons?

The opportunities here are endless, but it’s 50 times more expensive than traditional snowmaking. A tough expense to bear for your home hill, for sure.

TURN 2: Get in the Gym: Fitness for Skiers (Ski Magazine)

How did those thighs feel after your first few runs of the year?

According to the editors at Ski Magazine, it is not too late to get in shape for ski season. They’ve put together this list of muscle groups that deserve your attention before you hit the hill.

Especially for us flatlanders, getting in shape before you head to the mountains is crucial. It’s not fun to arrive in a powdery paradise and not have the legs and lungs to rip it up.

Bear down and get sweating with these workouts this season.

TURN 3: Vail Resorts Announces THIRD Set of Layoffs this Year (SnowBrains)

This blows. Vail is laying off employees again this year, but allowing them to re-apply for new jobs in Bloomfield, Colorado.

The company has made no secret of the fact that it’s trying to centralize its operation at the headquarters in the Denver suburb, but now it’s coming at the expense of employees elsewhere.

“We understand that change can be hard for those involved, and we are committed to supporting our employees through this transition,” the statement read. “Impacted employees are eligible to apply for open finance positions located in our corporate offices or other opportunities within our resort operations.”

Statement from Vail Resorts, via SnowBrains

SnowBrains says Vail subsequently announced a record-breaking $219 lift ticket over the holidays and an earnings uptick of 17 percent.

Seeing those two statistics has to sting for whoever was laid off this week.

Best of luck to everyone affected by this. We hope Vail can add back those jobs if their sales stay strong.

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