Recycling Snow for Winter Sports

Arte Re 2024 

Recycling and storing snow from the previous winter – more and more Alpine regions are trying to start the next ski season with snow farming. This is because climatic changes are causing a lack of snow in many places. Ski resorts in Switzerland and France need new ideas to ensure that winter sports have a future. But is snow conservation economical and sustainable? And can snow farming even save the glaciers from melting? 

Script and Direction: Maria-Christina Degen
Camera: Roman Schmid, Steffen Bohnert, Giorgio Blanco, Joris Keller, Arnold Denoth,
Günter König
Editor: Sascha Zimmermann
Producer: Michael Fräntzel
Redaction: Martin Ehrmann
Producer: Stephan Lamby / Eco Media TV-Produktion
Photo credits: Maria-Christina Degen
except: 4 and 15 Arnold Denoth,
11 and 13 Roman Schmid

Many ski resorts in the Alpine regions are suffering from climate change.

A lack of snow and winters that are too warm are making it increasingly difficult to start the season. Snow farming is therefore being tested for the first time in the prestigious Swiss ski resort of St. Moritz. This involves recycling snow from the previous season and storing it over the summer. Beat Lüscher is leading the project. In January 2023, he already produced a mound of artificial snow using snow cannons. If 80 percent is preserved, athletes could hit the cross-country ski trails almost a month earlier. St. Moritz is considered the birthplace of winter sports. Two Winter Olympics and numerous world championships have been held here. Beat Lüscher also wants to supply the recycled snow to Gregor Stähli. Stähli is responsible for the “Olympia Bob Run St. Moritz – Celerina”. The oldest and only natural ice rink in the world is set up by hand by ice masters every year and is heavily dependent on the weather. Stähli hopes that snow farming will give him more planning security. 

Snow farming has been practiced in the French Alps since 2008. The ski resort of Val Cenis is now investing in projects that protect nature and the environment. Former slalom pro Yves Dimier has introduced many sustainable ideas. Electricity is sourced from a hydroelectric power plant and Val Cenis is the first ski resort in France to test an emission-free snow groomer.  

Switzerland is also trying to save the Diavolezza glacier with snow farming. Because climate change is threatening to melt it. Felix Keller is a glaciologist and is committed to protecting the glacier. In spring 2023, the Diavolezza glacier was covered with a fleece. This protective tarpaulin has to be removed again in the fall. A complex project that Felix Keller is helping with. But is snow farming a long-term solution to save the glaciers?