By Dan Walton
Panorama Mountain Village is extending its ski season by one week both at the beginning and the end of the season and the staff have some new mechanical help to ensure the hill is ready in time.
The ski resort has added three new T10 TechnoAlpin snow machines to their fleet, as Panoramas snow-making equipment fleet continues to be one of the worlds most advanced. The new guns add to their already extensive machinery, including lances the long aluminum poles which use air pressure to turn water into snow as well as lighter versions of the TechnoAlpin guns, which create snow out of water with an internal compressor.
Instead of having big fan blades generating the thrust to propel the snow, [lances] use air pressure, explained marketing co-ordinator Jamie Hurschler, who previously served seven years as a cat driver and groomer at the resort.
And over the past decade, the technology involved in snowmaking equipment has taken huge strides, said snowmaking manager Jamie King, whos readying Panorama for his tenth winter at the resort. The older machinery doesnt even compare to the new equipment these guys produce more snow and use less power, he said.
The water and energy that both snowmaking systems require, whether electricity or air pressure, is delivered from Panoramas pump house, which is situated alongside the Toby Creek downstream of the village area. With top-notch equipment hooked up to a massive infrastructure, the resort is able to deliver high-quality snow across the mountain.
If we were to turn off the air on [the lances], the water would come out, but the water droplets would be very big.
Mr. Hurschler said that the added pressure projects the product further into the air, allowing the snow to be cast upon a greater area, with as much hang time as possible to crystallize and turn into snow.
While skiers would have a tough time identifying the differences between the guns and lances, Mr. Hurschler explained the resorts need for both methods of snow production.
Air-water guns are easy to move around, and theyre a heck of a lot cheaper, but they dont make snow as fast, he said. The fan guns are heavier and way more expensive, but they make snow more quickly.
The fans produce about three to four times more snow than lances, said Mr. Hurschler.
The resort is responsible for maintaining nearly 3,000 acres of terrain, nearly half of which has to be augmented with artificial snow.
The first order of business for the snowmaking team was to prepare a few runs for race training, as international skier and boarders began pre-season training at Panorama on Wednesday, November 13th and will continue until the resorts opening day. The public is welcome to watch as teams from around Canada and the U.S., as well the Turkish, Japanese, Chilean, and Argentinian national teams train on the ski hill ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
They like Showoff and Old Timer, because theyre close to the cafeteria, said mountain operations manager George Duncan. Once it gets closer to opening day, we like to go higher up so that public will have access to the top, he said, adding the biggest challenge for the team is covering the slopes with enough man-made snow to reach the altitude where natural snow is abundant.
The resort is able to provide a variety of conditions for customers from natural snow surfaces to wall-to-wall groomed corduroy snow.
On the front side, a lot of the mountain gets groomed out each night, and then theres the backside which isnt groomed at all, like in Taynton Bowl, said Mr. Duncan. It really gives that skier or family that might have different tastes the best of both worlds.
The 2013-2014 season opens to the public on
Friday, December 6th.