By Maximilian Mündler MSc, Product Manager
Last week I listened to the latest episode of the Storm Skiing Podcast with Alterra Mountain Company CEO Jared Smith. In the opening sequence, the former CEO of Alterra Mountain Company, Rusty Gregory, talked about how ski resorts are currently going through a transformation process that is bringing them into the digital age. He mentioned that Smith is the ideal CEO to lead the company through this time of change, as he has done so successfully in his previous positions. Smith later stated that these changes in digital technology over the next 5 to 10 years attracted him to become CEO of Alterra Mountain Company. If we take the message of these men and look at it from a mountain operations perspective, we come to the point of “Why work with ARENA.”
The expertise of ARENA SlopeManagement is based on the invention of their snow height measurement system almost 15 years ago. This technical application soon became a must-have tool for most Alpine ski resorts. Further development, in close cooperation with ARENA’s customers, has led to revolutionary changes in how European ski resorts organize and carry out their grooming and snowmaking operations.
These process changes have enabled resorts to significantly reduce their financial outlay for grooming and snowmaking by reducing the amount of water, energy, and manpower required. Many resorts have posted this success on their sustainability web pages, with up to 25% savings. Georg Bliem, CEO of the Planai Ski Resort in Austria – host of the 2013 FIS World Ski Championships and host of the famous FIS World Cup Night Race Slalom – has his own way of describing the progress they have made, mentioning that together with ARENA his resort is able to reduce costs by the amount of the initial cost of a brand-new groomer per season. While other providers still only measure the amount of snow under the groomer, further progress and the integration of big data analytics led ARENA to its SlopeManagement concept, which once again revolutionized snowmaking and grooming. Starting in 2019, ARENA combines data from snow height measurement, snowmaking, and meteorological services to optimize resort processes based on data analysis. “We will make our snowmaking even more efficient. To do this, we want to link and analyze all the data we have been collecting on the mountains for years in a more intelligent way,” says Henrik Volpert, CEO of the Oberstorf-Kleinwalstertal Group in Germany, which owns seven ski resorts in the Alps. Josef Reiter, CEO of Mountopolis in Tyrol, Austria, adds that the challenges will become even greater in the future due to soaring energy prices and climate change. As part of the ARENA project, we create the conditions for data-driven decision-making in snow operations.
New technologies have led to a completely updated snow height measurement system, which was unveiled at the InterAlpin trade fair in April 2023. Better satellite coverage, advanced sensors and algorithms, plug-and-play installation, and newly developed software for both grooming and data analysis were ARENA’s latest steps toward a bright future for the company and its customers worldwide