Snow Network Meeting in Oberhof: Experts Swap Ideas on Snow Management

Last weekend, Oberhof hosted the second IBU Snow Network Meeting. The organizers of the BMW IBU World Championships 2023 and the Zweckverband Thüringer Wintersportzentrum Oberhof had an opportunity to present their new snow management system.

Snow management experts from the IBU organizing committees met in Oberhof, Germany from 7-9 October 2022, to swap ideas on the future of sustainable snow management and hence the future of winter sport itself. 40 participants from 15 organizing committees, IBU staff, IBU technical experts as well as independent snow experts took part in the two-day forum. They discussed different methods of snow production, transport and storage.

"Snow is the basic requirement for winter sports. Due to climate change and rising energy costs, the topic is becoming increasingly important. The IBU Snow Network is an ideal platform to exchange experiences among our organizing committees and external experts. That way we will be able to provide ideal conditions for our athletes in the future”, said Borut Nunar, IBU Race Director World Cup.

In cooperation with Zweckverband Thüringer Wintersportzentrum Oberhof as the owner and operator of the LOTTO Thüringen Arena, the organizers of the BMW IBU Biathlon World Championships 2023 also had an opportunity to present their new snow management system. During a guided tour through the refurnished biathlon arena, the Snow Network participants visited the newly built snow storehouse equipped with an artificial snow plant. Thanks to several snow depots near the tracks, there is no need for long distance snow transportation any more. After the winter, the OC stored a huge amount of snow and preserved it during the hot summer months.

“Thanks to our new snow depots and modern snow-making infrastructure we enhanced our snow concept by a key component”, said Jörg Peter, Technical Operations Manager in Oberhof. The snow is used for preparing the tracks at the venue which will not only host the World Championships in February 2023 but is also the training center of many junior and youth athletes.

The IBU Snow Network was established in 2021. Its aim is the protection and efficient use of resources to minimize the ecological footprint and environmental impacts of the IBU and its venues. “It’s a global task and we want to make a contribution to that. We are working with great precision in many different areas. We try to generate the power needed for artificial snow production with renewable energies. The continual exchange of ideas with the IBU and DSV is critical for us to use resources in a sustainable and productive way”, said Dr. Hartmut Schubert, head of the sport venue and Oberhof Commissioner of the Thuringian government.

The Snow Network is a key element of IBU’s Sustainability Strategy which was developed as part of Target 26 strategic plan. Part of the meeting was also the presentation of the new „IBU Learning Suite“ that will simplify the exchange and provision of data and resources in the future. As a next steps, the Snow Network will work on improving data collection and quality to ensure even more efficient snow management in each IBU venue.

The IBU has committed to reduce its footprint by 50% and become climate neutral by 2030 and net zero by 2040. As a snow sport, biathlon is particularly reliant on the climate and is proactively working to find solutions to ensure sustainable and efficient access to snow at all levels of competition.

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