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THE ART OF CROSS-COUNTRY SKI TRAIL GROOMING
Zeit.los Magazin

von Zeit.los Magazin

January 22, 2024

THE ART OF CROSS-COUNTRY SKI TRAIL GROOMING

On Track

With guaranteed snow and surrounded by impressive mountain peaks, the Seefeld region - Tirol's high plateau offers the perfect backdrop for an extensive and varied cross-country skiing area. Behind the daily freshly groomed and perfectly prepared trails is a wealth of know-how and a team that is ready for action around the clock.

The art of cross-country ski trail preparation: behind the scenes

Where the valley opens up into a vast high plateau and the snow-covered landscape glistens in the sunlight between impressive mountain peaks, skaters and classic cross-country skiers make their rounds in winter. Over 245 kilometers of perfectly groomed cross-country trails for all abilities not only attract numerous recreational athletes to the region, but are also the venue for sporting competitions. Wide and world-class sections for skating or classic style as well as for the increasingly popular biathlon offer cross-country skiers a veritable Eldorado of possibilities. The repertoire of the snow-sure high plateau ranges from leisurely pleasure runs through the Leutasch high valley to professional top-class sport in the Seefeld sports arena. The extensive cross-country skiing area connects the villages in the region and offers freshly groomed cross-country trails every day.

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Know-how and commitment: the masters of cross-country ski trail preparation in action

Behind this idyllic cross-country skiing paradise is a wealth of expertise and a team that is highly committed to ensuring that the trails are in perfect condition for both professional and recreational athletes, whatever the weather. "This starts as early as October with the mulching of the trails and various construction work," says Wolfgang Kratzer, trail master and deputy manager of the Technical Center Seefeld. "Bridges over streams and ponds that were dismantled after the spring season are rebuilt in the fall and the trail signs are put back up. From November, we then start to prepare the snow cannons, which are used from an outside temperature of minus four degrees," explains the experienced trail master.

As soon as the temperatures allow the snow cannons to be used, snow is produced in larger quantities and the large piles of snow are moved onto the trails using machines. Seven Pistenbully 100s and a Prinoth Bison are available to the team responsible for the professional preparation of the cross-country ski trails. Because grooming is like a science. "It is important for the longevity of the trail that the first layer on the ground is very well frozen. The right layer structure plays a key role in the quality and durability of a cross-country ski trail," says Kratzer.

It is important for the longevity of the trail that the first layer on the ground is very well frozen. The right layer structure plays a key role in the quality and durability of a cross-country ski trail.

Wolfgang Kratzer

Wolfgang Kratzer

As with alpine ski slopes, it is important that the slopes have time to draw overnight. This so-called "sintering" - actually a process from metalworking - means that the snow crystals melt when they come into contact with each other and release interfacial energy in the process. This causes the snow to solidify and cool down. The closer the temperature is to zero degrees, the better the snow will sinter. This process takes time, which is why a rest period of around eight hours is usually required after preparing the slopes. "For this reason, our eight skiers ski with the track plates after the slopes have closed, so that the trails have time to draw overnight," says Kratzer, explaining the fact that the freshly groomed trails do not do well at all if they are skied on in the hours after grooming. "If we find cross-country skiers after the trails have closed, we therefore politely ask them to stop cross-country skiing outside of opening hours."

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Perfect timing and flexibility: the secret of trail preparation revealed

Generally, the best time to prepare the trails is just before the freezing point. In precipitation-free weather, the crew starts grooming the trails at around 5:30 pm and usually works until around 8 pm. "When the A1 night trail in Seefeld is in operation from Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., our drivers prepare the trail afterwards. If it gets light for longer in spring, we start later accordingly," says the trail master. The decision as to when is the best time to prepare the trails depends on several factors: Is the snow dry or wet? Will it cool down or warm up in the next few hours? Will there be precipitation or not? "If there is fresh snow overnight, there is no time for it to sinter, which affects the stability and durability of the trail. If large amounts of fresh snow are expected, the crew is on duty around the clock to move and prepare the loose amounts of fresh snow," says the cross-country ski trail master, expressing his gratitude to his team, who have to be extremely flexible and ready for action during the winter months.

Cross-country skiing team of the Seefeld region | Cross-country skiing trails & piste equipment
Your cross-country winter: Behind the globally unique trails in the Seefeld region is a great team of employees who are always out and about on the cross-country ski trails from dawn until late in the evening. Over 245 kilometers of classic and skating trails are available to cross-country skiers.

Even though the Seefeld region is considered to be snow-sure, the first snow is sometimes a long time coming at the start of the most beautiful season. For Nordic competition preparation, the resource-saving snow farming project in Leutasch guarantees the first training trail of the season from mid-November - if temperatures and conditions allow. "The snow is produced the winter before and covered with wood chips in a large pile. The snow then cools itself under the layer of wood chips and is covered again in the fall and, as soon as the weather permits in mid-November, is brought to the so-called snowfarming trail," says Kratzer, describing how this project, which has been successfully applied in Scandinavia and Davos, also ensures an early start to the season in the Seefeld region.

Perfectly groomed

The trails on the high plateau are groomed extra wide and perfectly prepared for skating and classic every day. Unless otherwise announced, the trails are open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm. In Seefeld, the night trail A1 is also floodlit from Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9pm. Cross-country skiing equipment can be conveniently hired from 14 businesses across the high plateau. The cross-country ski trail ticket is also valid as a bus ticket on the entire high plateau. And if you are looking for some relaxation afterwards, you will find the best wellness facilities in the region all around.

Click here for the cross-country ski trail report for the Seefeld region.

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Zeit.los Magazin

Zeit.los Magazin

The zeit.los magazine writes the most beautiful stories of Tyrol's high plateau: about its people, unique places and all the adventures you can experience at 1,200 meters. The magazine is published 2x a year - in summer and winter - and is available for you to pick up.

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