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INSIDE THE FACTORY: TUNNEL TESTING

Torsby Skitunnel. Photo: Lars Sjöqvist

Torsby Skitunnel. Photo: Lars Sjöqvist

August and September is crunch time for the R&D test crew. Join them on a trip to the ski tunnel.

The dawn of the indoor ski tunnels in the mid-2000s significantly eased the workday for the Madshus research and development department, test crew and service techs.

From August until there is consistent natural snow outside, which usually isn’t until mid-October at best, the Torsby ski tunnel a short drive across the border into Sweden is a part of the their test lab and office.

“With the ski tunnel in Torsby only a few hours away, we can manufacture skis early in the week and be on the snow testing by midweek,” says Peter Blom, who has been part of the Madshus test crew for a decade.

Convenient and reliable = more and better test data
While nothing beats real winter, Blom explains that the tunnels offer some advantages to traditional testing on the glaciers.

For starters, the tunnel is close to the factory, while the glaciers in Central Europe require extended travel, a lot more logistics, and no easy opportunity to come back to the factory, adjust, and retest.

“From August until October, we are in the tunnel almost every week. That means we test a lot more than we would if we had to travel far to test. The more we test, the more we know and the better the skis get. Because the tunnel offers such reliable and consistent conditions, we test a lot, and accumulate a huge amount of testing data that is easily comparable, both day to day and year to year, as well as model to model and case by case,” he explains.

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The Torsby ski tunnel offers the same conditions every day of the year. Photo: Lars Sjöqvist, ute.se

The Torsby ski tunnel offers the same conditions every day of the year. Photo: Lars Sjöqvist, ute.se

Eliminates interfering factors
Also, the snow conditions in the tunnel are more like winter than the summer snow conditions on the glaciers. Additionally, there is no wind, no sudden changes in temperatures or snow consistency in the tunnel, which contributes to make the test data more accurate and reliable.

“The glaciers have very inconsistent temperatures and conditions. Some days it can be a blizzard and bitter cold, the next day you have baking sun and slush. In the tunnel we know exactly what the snow and the temperature will be like,” Blom says, noting that the past few years, the tunnels have become very good at controlling the climate and the snow quality.

“They dropped the temperature slightly, and they no longer groom too often. If you groom the tunnel snow too much, it the snow loses its structure and becomes sugary and “dead.” But this is not that much of an issue anymore,” he says.

Access to the skiers
With near perfect conditions in the tunnel, Blom and his crew frequently run into the Madshus World Cup skiers, their national teams and the World Cup wax techs. This allows for easy interaction, exchange of experiences and improves the testing with real-time, on-site feedback.

 

See you in the tunnel?

Summer Skiing: Ski Tunnels

Vuokatti (FIN) is home to the oldest ski tunnel in the world. Photo: Vuokatti.fi
Vuokatti (FIN) is home to the oldest ski tunnel in the world. Photo: Vuokatti.fi

Vuokatti (FIN) is home to the oldest ski tunnel in the world. Photo: Vuokatti.fi

Not everyone has access to glaciers, but there are other options for snow skiing in the summer.

There is nothing wrong with the ski tunnel in Torsby (SWE) or in Oberhof (GER), or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, the Torsby ski tunnel is one of Madshus standard test locations, a hangout for national teams, pro teams on the Ski Classics circuit, clubs and masters alike.

But there are other options. Vuokatti is well known to elite skiers, as the small town in east central Finland is host to the Finnish Ski Team training center and the FIS Scandinavian Cup, the race series that has been a stepping stone for racers aiming for the national teams and the World Cup. But while many skiers travel to Vuokatti in the winter, far fewer have experienced the town’s opportunities for dryland training.

As one of the Finnish national team training centers, Vuokatti offers state of the art opportunities for roller skiing, running and other dryland training methods, and a ski tunnel with 1.2-kilometers of groomed tracks and a fully equipped biathlon range. All of this is available in Torsby as well, but Vuokatti also offers indoor snowboarding with rails, jumps and other park features. The snowboarding section of the tunnel, which is 80 meters long and 20 meters wide, is also open to tubing and sledding. The Vuokatti ski tunnel was the first snow tunnel in the world, opening in 1998. The snowboarding department was added on in 2000.

Now that’s all great, but Vuokatti has a final trick up its sleeve: The Angry Birds Theme Park – an activity center with endless entertainment, a huge park with options for all ages and tastes. So if you’re planning a training camp and want convince the whole family to come along, this could be your secret weapon in gaining approval for the project.

Vuokatti (FIN) is known for reliable skiing conditions in the winter, great dryland training, a ski tunnel, and is home to the Finnish national teams. But Vuokatti also features the Angry Birds Theme Park. Photo: Vuokatti.fi

Vuokatti (FIN) is known for reliable skiing conditions in the winter, great dryland training, a ski tunnel, and is home to the Finnish national teams. But Vuokatti also features the Angry Birds Theme Park. Photo: Vuokatti.fi

Vuokatti, Finland.

Vuokatti, Finland.

ABOUT VUOKATTI
Where: The Sotkamo Region, east in Finland
Travel: Fly to Helsinki, then connect with domestic flight to Kajaani (roughly 1 hour) or take train/bus from Helsinki.

 

 

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