Snow on Scottish ski slopes ‘better than Sochi’

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at Lecht Ski Centre in the Cairngorms in January. Picture: Hemedia
Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at Lecht Ski Centre in the Cairngorms in January. Picture: Hemedia
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Scotland’s ski centres are enjoying better snow than slopes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The Glenshee resort in the southern Cairngorms has currently had 10 metres of snow in places, compared to around one-and-a-half metres found in the Russian city hosting the Games.

Staff at CairnGorm Mountain near Aviemore have had to dig out their top station at Ptarmigan which was completed buried by four-metre drifts.

Bosses are hoping for a bumper February, with perfect skiing conditions coinciding with the half-term school holidays.

Over 500 skiers and boarders enjoyed the slopes there yesterday, with similar numbers expected today.

Marketing manager Colin Kirkwood said: “This is one of the busiest periods on the mountain and we are keen to ensure that our customers – both visitors to the area and regular snowsports enthusiasts as well as funicular only passengers have the best experience possible.

“The ticketing and equipment hire changes we have made this year will contribute to that but there have also been improvements on the hill with several kilometers of new snow fencing, a new motor in the West Wall poma and the acquisition of another, larger and more powerful snow cannon although right now it looks as if we won’t be needing that for a while.”

The Nevis Range in Inverness-shire is also enjoying a boost in snowfall, with three metres across the main hill and one-and-a-half metres at the shallowest point.

Glenshee manager Graham McCabe said the resort has been hit by snow drifts so deep they match the ski lifts in height.

He said: “We’ve got more snow in places than we’ve seen in 20 years. We’re having to dig down to where the ski lifts are. We have more snow than Sochi - I think that goes without saying.

“In Scotland, snow doesn’t fall straight out of the sky, it comes with strong winds, so we have massive drifts.

“Some will be ten metres deep in the gullies, and we have a huge accumulation of snow, but looking at Sochi they don’t have much more than a metre and a half.

“If you want good skiing, come to Scotland, not Russia.”

The long-range forecast for Sochi is for favourable cold weather.

The Black Sea resort is the warmest venue in the history of the winter Games, but ski venues in the Krasnaya Polyana mountain range should stay below freezing.

But even if conditions are not ideal, Sergey Bondarenko, head of sport functions for the organising committee, has confirmed there were enough stocks of back-up snow to cope with any adversities.

He said: “We have guaranteed snow with the help of the Russian government.”

Organisers have some 710,000 cubic metres of stored snow, while 404 fixed and 27 mobile snowmaking machines will be able to produce snow when temperatures rise above zero.