Is the future of skiing in a box?
Faced with the threat of global warming, to which it contributes by its large energy consumption, the ski industry continues its technological race to survive the lack of snow. With a new fantasy: skis-domes. Report at the Snowhall Amnéville (Lorraine) and Tignes, at the foot of the slopes, to check if, in the future, skiing will really practice indoor.
The immense metal roof, whose elongated shape follows the slope of a hill, is visible from afar, in the midst of the cement factories which dot the landscape with silent geometric forms. We are in Amnéville, Lorraine, a few kilometers from the border with Luxembourg. It is here, on the relief of a former crassier (a huge pile of fossilized slag formed by the blast furnace discharges) that is built the only French indoor ski slope. A geographical incongruity decided by the will of a man: the former mayor of the town, Jean Kiffer, died in 2011 and celebrated in the region for turning the industrial wastelands of Amnéville into a tourist zone with the creation of a zoo , an aquarium, a huge cinema … and Snowhall, an indoor ski resort. Both tracks, the longest measuring 625 meters – a record in Europe – attract around 100,000 people every year.
A popular success that is also a financial pitfall. In 2016, the Court of Auditors pinpointed the structural deficit of the complex, managed until then by the municipal administration. Attendance was not enough to cover the cost of running the Snowhall, especially the enormous energy consumption required to maintain a temperature of -2 ° C inside the building. Its operation was finally sold in November 2018 to the group Labellemontagne, a company that manages several ski resorts in the Vosges and the Alps. « For us, the Snowhall has many advantages. There is the atypical side: people can come skiing in July. There is also the assurance of optimal conditions for skiing, even in winter. The customer who comes here knows that there will be no fog, no snowstorm, and the temperature is still relatively pleasant for a skier, « says Benjamin Coureau, the new director of the structure.
The Amneville Snowhall slalom track
In spite of an uncertain economic model, this type of structure could represent the future of the snow sliding sports industry. In Tignes, at the foot of the Grande Motte glacier, which sits at 3650 meters in the heart of the Vanoise massif, in the Alps, the town hall has launched a crazy project: the Ski-line. A covered trail fed all year round by artificial snow and 420 meters long where the snow is provided by snow cannons. Approved by the prefect, the project has however raised reservations from the Regional Environmental Authority. The proceeding warns that « this project has significant impacts in terms of landscape, water consumption and energy consumption. The town hall of Tignes, who still communicated in September 2018 about the Ski-line on its website, however, said that the project had since been put to sleep, without specifying the reasons for this change.
Even the French Alpine Ski Team had to cancel one of its training camps in August, relocated … to the Amneville Snowhall
An indoor structure of this nature would be an ecological aberration in an environment already strongly impacted by global warming. In sharp decline since the early 2000s, the glacier Tignes, high-rise summer skiing, is less and less passable in the summer. The 2018 summer season was particularly hot at high altitude and even the French alpine team had to cancel one of its training camps in August, relocated … to the Amneville Snowhall. . A foretaste of the skiing of the future, in a century when snow will become more and more rare?