Laupheim, Germany, 15 September 2023
The 3rd in-person meeting of the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) Snow Network featured an in-depth knowledge exchange on grooming and associated snow management topics in Laupheim, Germany from 13-15 September 2023. Launched on 1 December 2022, the IBU-led SIEPPUR Sustainable Snow Management Project joined the Snow Network meeting for the first time.
Under its Snow Network, the IBU has now gathered three seasons of snow management related data from biathlon venues worldwide. These data provide an extensive basis which the SIEPPUR project will leverage for a comprehensive analysis of emerging challenges, such as the differences between climatological circumstances impacting future ability to secure snow for Nordic snow sports in different regions, such as alpine (high altitude – low latitude), low mountain (low altitude – low latitude), and Scandinavian/Northern European (high latitude – low altitude).
The Laupheim Seminar, hosted by the IBU’s Snow Tech Partner PistenBully and including a tour and presentation of the Kässbohrer Snow World, gathered 17 IBU Organising Committees along with all the seven SIEPPUR project partners and the 10 associated venues to discuss technical details around snow grooming and snow physics. The distinct characteristics of snow as an element, local conditions at the venues and the impact of climate change on snow management were highlighted.
The Snow Network is the perfect example of how to exchange information and learn from each other's experiences in the field of snow management. With the ongoing climate change, this type of cooperation will be even more important in the future."
Daniel Böhm, IBU Sport & Event Director
Besides presentations by all participating venues on the grooming conditions at their most recent IBU events, SIEPPUR experts Fabian Wolfsperger of the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, and Erik Melin Söderström of Sweden’s Peak 63 presented extensive research with specifics relating to the partner venues.
The data being collected considers the types of snow (natural/artificial/stored snow), the time of grooming (start, end) and types of grooming (machines used etc.), energy and water consumed as well as the use of snow hardening substances. Lively discussions focused on course grooming as a key challenge in snow management.
During the upcoming 2023/24 season, a crucial phase of the SIEPPUR project will get underway, with focus on high-quality data gathering to complete the current state and gap analysis of snow management processes and definition of best-in-class practices. As emphasised at the separate SIEPPUR Steering Committee meeting, the IBU Snow Network and SIEPPUR Project Partners will continue to collaborate closely, collecting and analysing data to identify roadmap scenarios for future snow management.
The IBU Snow Network consists of the snow management experts at the IBU’s Organising Committees. A priority of the Snow Network is to determine how snow management can become more efficient and sustainable at IBU events. Data is collected on all phases of snow management on an annual basis.
The SIEPPUR – Sustainable Snow Management Project is 30-month project financed by the European Union Erasmus+ programmededicated to identifying, developing, and promoting sustainable practices in snow management from production, storage, transport, grooming to handling. The project involves a consortium of six partners, including the IBU as project coordinator, Peak 63, the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), Sustainable Mountain Alliance (SMA), and three IBU member federations; Svenskt Skidskytte AB (SSSAB), the Polish Biathlon Association (PZB), and the Slovenian Ski Association (SZS).