Snow grooming

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A snow groomer with plow, a surface finishing attachment for ski slopes, and a cable winch for grooming steep slopes Oberstdorf Germany Nebelhornbahn-Snow-groomer-01.jpg
A snow groomer with plow, a surface finishing attachment for ski slopes, and a cable winch for grooming steep slopes
A groomed cross-country trail, showing corduroy for skate-skiing and classic tracks (left) Skate skiing track.jpg
A groomed cross-country trail, showing corduroy for skate-skiing and classic tracks (left)
A groomed alpine skiing piste or trail Poranne narty - panoramio.jpg
A groomed alpine skiing piste or trail

Snow grooming is the process of manipulating snow for recreational uses with a tractor, snowmobile, piste caterpillar, truck or snowcat towing specialized equipment. The process is used to maintain ski hills, cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails by grooming (moving, flattening, rototilling, or compacting) the snow on them. A snow groomer is usually employed to pack snow and improve skiing and snowboarding and snowmobile trail conditions. The resulting pattern on the snow is known as corduroy, [1] and is widely regarded as a good surface on which to ski or ride. Snow groomers can also move accumulated snow made by snow machines as part of a process, called "snow farming".


Snow groomer

A snow groomer (informally called a "piste basher" in the United Kingdom) [2] [3] is a tracked vehicle equipped in front with a shovel (or dozer blade) and behind with a cutter (or roller). It is usually driven by diesel engines. When the machine drives over a snowfield, it pushes snow ahead of it and, at the same time, smooths out any surface unevenness.

Snow groomers built for ski slopes employ front mounted, hydraulically operated blades, powered rotary tillers and specialized shaping equipment for not only maintaining ski slopes, but also for building half pipes, ski/snowboard terrain parks and snow tube parks. Cross-country skiing trails are also groomed in similar fashion, often with a wide "corduroy" area that allows skate-skiing plus classic ski tracks, imprinted with specialized ski guides. [4] Manufacturers include Formatic, Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug, Prinoth, Ratrak, Logan Machine Company, Tucker Sno-Cat, Snow Trac, Thiokol, the Ohara Corporation (Japan) and Aztec, SAS (France).

Snow groomers can handle very steep gradients due to their low centre of gravity and large contact area, but they can also be assisted by winches. Using cable lengths of up to 1,200 metres and a tractive force of up to 4.8 tonnes, winches can support the machines on steep slopes. [5]

Snow groomers warn skiers and snowboarders with visual or acoustic signals. Groomers are mostly sent out during the night time after the close of the ski area so as not to interfere with daily and night skiing. [6]

Due to their mobility and low ground pressure (typically 0.040 to 0.060 kg/cm2 (about 4 to 6 kN/m2) snow groomers are sometimes used elsewhere, e.g. for agricultural purposes, moving bulk goods, working on peat bogs or at biogas sites. [7]

Snow farming

Snow farming is the use of obstacles, equipment and knowledge about management of snow in order to strategically manipulate snow coverage. Often this is done for the purpose of skiing or even preventing snow drift in certain areas like roads. The most popular obstacle is the snow fence, which is used to create drifts and collect more snow in a given area than would otherwise naturally occur. The snow can be moved to other areas and groomed with the use of a snow groomer. Sometimes the snow fence is readily movable in order to maximize the collection of blown snow, despite wind direction changes. [8] [9] In Mora, Minnesota, the annual Vasaloppet cross-country ski race would be unable to happen without the use of snow farming due to lack of natural snow in recent years. [10]

Related Research Articles

Cross-country skiing Form of snow skiing

Cross-country skiing is a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, rather than using ski lifts or other forms of assistance. Cross-country skiing is widely practiced as a sport and recreational activity; however, some still use it as a means of transportation. Variants of cross-country skiing are adapted to a range of terrain which spans unimproved, sometimes mountainous terrain to groomed courses that are specifically designed for the sport.

Skiing Recreational activity and sport using skis

Skiing is a means of transport using skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Snowboarding Winter sport

Snowboarding is a recreational and competitive activity that involves descending a snow-covered slope while standing on a snowboard that is almost always attached to a rider's feet. It features in the Winter Olympic Games and Winter Paralympic Games.

Alpine skiing Sport of skiing downhill

'Alpine skiing, or downhill skiing', is the pastime of sliding down snow-covered slopes on skis with fixed-heel bindings, unlike other types of skiing, which use skis with free-heel bindings. Whether for recreation or for sport, it is typically practiced at ski resorts, which provide such services as ski lifts, artificial snow making, snow grooming, restaurants, and ski patrol.

Ski resort Resort developed for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports

A ski resort is a resort developed for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. In Europe, most ski resorts are towns or villages in or adjacent to a ski area – a mountainous area with pistes and a ski lift system. In North America, it is more common for ski areas to exist well away from towns, so ski resorts usually are destination resorts, often purpose-built and self-contained, where skiing is the main activity.

Snowmobile Land vehicle designed for winter travel on snow

A snowmobile, also known as a motor sled, motor sledge, skimobile, snow scooter, Ski-Doo, or snowmachine, is a motorized vehicle designed for winter travel and recreation on snow. It is designed to be operated on snow and ice and does not require a road or trail, but most are driven on open terrain or trails. Snowmobiling is a sport that many people have taken on as a serious hobby.

Obertauern Winter sports resort in Austria

Obertauern is a tourist destination which is located in the Radstädter Tauern in the Salzburger Land of Austria. The winter sports resort is separated in two communities: Tweng and Untertauern.

Les Trois Vallées Ski resort in France

Les Trois Vallées is a ski region in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie département of France, to the south of the town of Moûtiers, partly in the Vanoise National Park.

Backcountry skiing

Backcountry skiing (US), also called off-piste (Europe), alpine touring, or out-of-area, is skiing in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas either inside or outside a ski resort's boundaries. This contrasts with alpine skiing which is typically done on groomed trails benefiting from a ski patrol. Unlike ski touring, backcountry skiing can include the use of ski lifts including snowcats and helicopters. Recent improvements in equipment have increased the popularity of the sport.

A snowcat is an enclosed-cab, truck-sized, fully tracked vehicle designed to move on snow. Major manufacturers are Pisten Bully (Germany), Prinoth (Italy) and Tucker.


Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais. It is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps and is recognised as one of the premier backcountry ski resorts in the world. Some areas are covered with snow all year. Skiers have settled in the Verbier area in order to take advantage of the steep slopes, varied conditions, and resort culture.


A piste is a marked ski run or path down a mountain for snow skiing, snowboarding, or other mountain sports.

Badger Pass Ski Area

Badger Pass Ski Area is a small ski area located within Yosemite National Park. Badger Pass is one of only three lift serviced ski areas operating in a US National Park. It is situated five miles (8 km) south-southeast of the Chinquapin intersection of Wawona Road with Glacier Point Road in the southern area of Yosemite National Park. Glacier Point Road provides the access to this ski area. During high snow level and/or ski season, Glacier Point road terminates at Badger Pass Ski Resort. Under these conditions, the remainder of Glacier Point Road is used for cross-country skiing access to Glacier Point and other destinations in the high country.

Montgenèvre Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Montgenèvre is a commune of the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France.

Backcountry snowboarding

Backcountry snowboarding is snowboarding in a sparsely inhabited rural region over ungroomed and unmarked slopes or pistes in the backcountry, frequently amongst trees, usually in pursuit of fresh fallen snow, known as powder. Often, the land and the snow pack are not monitored, patrolled, or maintained. Fixed mechanical means of ascent such as ski lifts are typically not present, but alternative means such as splitboarding, hiking, snow shoeing and helicopters ("heliskiing") are sometimes used to reach the mountain's peak.

Outline of skiing Overview of and topical guide to skiing

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to skiing:

Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise is a commune in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.

White Grass Ski Touring Center is a cross-country skiing facility located in Canaan Valley in Tucker County, West Virginia. It originally opened in 1979 on White Grass Knob near Harrisonburg, Virginia. Two years later, the operation was moved to the site of the second Weiss Knob Ski Area. The resort uses Weiss Knob's former lodge as its day lodge; it is one of the oldest dedicated cross country ski areas in the United States. Because of its status as a former downhill slope, White Grass is an unusually steep cross country area, with nearly 1,200 feet (370 m) of vertical rise—more than at neighboring downhill slope Canaan Valley Resort State Park. Its 45 trails are rated approximately 30% easy, 55% intermediate, 15% most difficult; climbs are available to the summit of 4,436-foot (1,352 m) Weiss Knob by intermediate skiing, and to 4,308-foot (1,313 m) Bald Knob via easier or intermediate trails. White Grass staff also conduct free natural history snowshoe tours each Sunday into the Canaan Valley Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Cross-country skiing trail

A cross-country skiing trail or loipe is a route that has been laid out, constructed and maintained specifically for cross-country skiing. Trails may extend point-to-point, but are more typically loops for recreational use or for competition. Until the mid-20th Century, trails were tracked by the passage of skiers. More recently, snow groomers set tracks for classic skiing and smooth lanes for skate skiing.

This glossary of skiing and snowboarding terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon used in skiing, snowboarding, and related winter sports.


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