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Recent FIS News
Below you will find a listing of recent FIS News
Presenting FIS Partners: SUFAG
With its initial snowmaking designs by Fritz Jakob in 1963 SUFAG has a strong and innovative history. SUFAG was officially founded 20 years later in 1983 and has been a leading manufacturer in snowmaking ever since. In 2002 SUFAG became an official FIS partner looking to create its presence in the world of ski racing. During the autumn FIS meetings in Zurich we had the chance to sit down with Günther Praxmarer of the SUFAG marketing department and here is what he had to say.
Q: All skiers have at least at some point benefited from snowmaking. Can you give us a brief rundown of your products and clients?
SUFAG: For our automatic snowmaking systems we have two products that we focus on, fan guns and snow sticks, fan guns being most prominent. Our snowmaking products are used worldwide, from Scotland to South Korea and pretty much everywhere in between. SUFAG proudly provides its services to many of the FIS World Cup resorts such as Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Kitzbühel, Cortina and Schladming to name but a few. With clients varying worldwide across 19 countries a sister company ARECO was founded to help support the global demand. It is an ever growing business.
Q: What is the installation process of SUFAG machines and what infrastructures does it require? What has been the most unique project or special feature?
SUFAG: The master plans for our products and systems are done in-house by our engineers in Innsbruck, Austria. Furthermore, a lot of work goes in to the installation process in terms of water sources, pipelines, and infrastructure once on site. SUFAG produces some 1 million cubic meters per season, thus to cater to such large production quantity, quality infrastructure is essential and we pride ourselves on that.
In terms of unique projects, about 8 years ago we did a small installation of about 3-5 guns in Cyprus at Mount Olympus. Remote projects such as that are understandably the most memorable.
Q: Given the nature of the sport of skiing and the ever growing concerns about the environmental impact development has, what does SUFAG do to help protect the environment? What is SUFAG’s message to the community?
SUFAG: We market ourselves as being economical beneficial as our products act as a safeguard for ski tourism and also competitions for years when there is little natural snow, for example. On the environmental side, having sufficient snow coverage helps to protect the local flora and fauna of the ski area having significant environmental advantages. Early snow coverage also aids frost protection which avoids freezing and erosion. Natural water sources such as ponds and running water are sought out to reduce any environmental concerns. What really differentiates SUFAG from other brands in the market is their ongoing efforts to lower the energy consumption of the guns. With the fan as the main energy consumer in each gun, SUFAG engineers have created a new fan feature which utilizes 20% less energy, lowering costs for our customers and reducing the impact on the environment. SUFAG’s message is to choose high quality products which are long lasting.
Q: How is SUFAG unique from other snowmakers? What does it do to stand out in the market?
SUFAG: Snowmaking is quite a competitive market, but no other company has such an advanced nozzle system as we do. By increasing our number of nozzles to up to 355 in each gun, we aim to create fine snow through smaller droplets. Not only is this energy efficient but it is proven that smaller droplets completely freeze meaning dry, soft snow conditions. This is a stark comparison to competitors only using say 20 nozzles which produce bigger droplets less likely to freeze the whole way through and once broken turn to water. Our leading technologies and worldwide availability and service are what sets us apart from other companies.
Q: What sports or disciplines can SUFAG’s snow production support? How does this provide opportunities for the world of sport?
SUFAG: We provide services to all sports with skis and snowboards whether that be alpine, cross-country, ski jumping or everything in between. Many events in Freestyle and Snowboard require large jumps to be constructed demanding extra snow, wherein we can make such demands a reality. On a competition level, last year’s season would not have been possible without snowmaking as an example of the importance of our product. We also make snow for sledding hills and bobsleigh tracks like in St. Moritz.
Q: We have not always had the luxury of snowmaking and even in that there have already been big changes to the technology involved with making snow. What have been the main technological changes in the past 10, 20 years?
SUFAG: Since the initial SUFAG snowmaking machine was made in 1983 the main principals have stayed the same in terms of the fans and the body of the machines. As mentioned above, there have been numerous changes in the nozzles and likewise the bell of the snow gun is more aerodynamic now. Our products have not succumbed to large sudden changes but rather many small detail adjustments that have been tested over time. It is important to note that our machines are made of such good quality there is not a high turnaround of product. Most customers inquire about fleet expansion rather than replacement, a testament to our long lasting, high quality products.
Post interview, the FIS was in contact with Michael Manhart of Skilifte Lech, a proud customer of SUFAG products. His comments were as follows:
“Skilifte Lech is using all different types of SUFAG-snowmakers. They are positioned uniquely on the slopes depending on the individual situation. SUFAG is also producing the newest type of the "Arlberg-Jet" gun which has ‘won the shootout’. It also it made all the snow for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Our test data are showing that SUFAG-snow guns are excellent!”
Contributed by Mari Mathews
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