The snow making team at Mottolino: the first winter season backstage to start knowing our big family!
At Mottolino there are people working behind the scene: you might not see them at work, but they do crucial things to make your winter holiday simply perfect.
The first team we dedicate this curious series of articles if the snow making team. And we do that because thanks to them it has been possible to ski in Livigno since the beginning of this awkward season.
What is the job about? We asked a few questions to Romeo, technical manager for snow making at Mottolino.
"Usually in November as soon as temperatures drop we start making snow on strategic ski area spots. We already know where we have to place snowguns and lances and we proceed on our own. Snow making is crucial at this point because it helps preparing the ground for a great winter season: keep in mind that 25cm of artificial snow are the equivalent of a meter of natural snow, that has a major volume because it's full of air and when it's snowgroomed or peole ski on it, the volume reduces. That's why you can see us at work even when snowfalls are forecasted.
Our snow making system is made of snowguns and lances that are places in specific spots based on the amount of snow requested or on the slopes width to cover. Both the systems work from -3° down, but an optimal production should go down to at least -12°, which is the ideal temperature to exploit the system potential to the fullest."
How did you work at the beginning of the season?
"In December the average temperature was of -5°, with incredible thermal inversions that made our job even more complex and challenging. There were differences of 10 degrees between town and lifts arrival. If you checked the meteo stations on Mottolino website homepage, you might have seen that there wew -2/-3 degrees in town and +5 at Monte Sponda lift arrival!
We had to work in direct contact with slopes director, to strategically determine where we should have given priority, to offer a complete and well connected area sooner than possible.
Besides every difficulty we faced, my job is never boring. There' a mechanical side (connected to pumps, snow guns..), an electronic part (being a computerized system), and an hydraulic part (because liquids are used)."
How do you set and place a new snowmaking system?
"At first we have the pipes-laying, placed in a depth from 2 and 1/5 to 3 meter, depending on the lift altitude, to avoid any freezing. At regular intervals we place some extractions, that are a kind of tap used to connect the snowgun and get the water to transform into snow. These taps are found within small reservoirs where also electricity can be founds. They are 1,5m x 1,5m, and we have to connect manually both water and a electricity. We have to be nimble and thin to move easily! Reservoirs are placed strategically so that we can move the snowguns where we need to."
What are your working hours?
"We work either at day or at night. During the day we have the normal maintenance of what has problems and with the right temperature we can keep on producing snow.
At night we have to keep controlling everything through computers, but above all we have to supervise the situation with inspections, to verify the presence of wind, to make sure the production continues normally, that nothing has problems and everything works correctly!
Personally I never stop working. When I get back home I have the chance to access our controlling system through the smartphone: that allows me to regularly check that everything works fine and to support the team at night, only if problems can be solved.
Mine is a real passion and within the last 13 years I've never stopped learning. I put my experience at company disposal to find new solutions, optimize resources and solve problems the fastest possible way"
Don't miss the first video about this fascinating profession and enjoy the images recorded together with the snow making team at Mottolino!