Summertime is an excellent period to start getting ready for the next vacation, not only by working out and getting your body in the best possible shape for your snow adventure but also by learning some of the most important and interesting things connected to skiing. One of those things is the difference between artificial and real snow.
There are two types of snow you can ski on – artificial and real. In this article, we’ll go through all the artificial vs real snow differences so the next time you find yourself on the ski track, you know what to do to improve your performance.
What Is Artificial Snow?
Artificial snow is the type of snow made using devices known as snow cannons, snow blowers, or snow guns. These machines use the combination of freezing air and water drops to blow it into the air. This results in the formation of something that most accurately looks like frozen balls for paintball.
Why is Artificial Snow Used?
Although it is quite expensive because to produce artificial snow, you need water, machinery, proper temperature, and trained personnel, it is also one of the most important things for every ski resort. What makes it essential is the fact that artificial snow is more resistant compared to natural, which gives the resort the chance to stay open longer. It also means that it can endure a bit more rain while staying in a condition good enough to be skied on.
By using artificial snow once the temperatures drop down to needed value, ski resorts get the chance to start working earlier and maintain their season longer than it would last if only natural snow is used. This means more money.
What Are Most Track Made Of?
Ski tracks can be natural, artificial, or mixed.
- Natural tracks are the most popular, but they depend completely on nature.
- Artificial tracks are more expensive, which makes them unsuitable as the only solution.
That’s why most of the ski tracks are made out of natural and artificial snow mix blended. Most often, artificial snow is used as the base for natural snow to fall on so it lasts longer.
Although made differently, artificial and natural snow both have some similarities. First of all, snow from machines is equally cold as the natural snow so you won’t feel the difference. Secondly, artificial snow is also wet, and lastly, it feels like snow when touched.
The main difference is in its structure. Unlike the natural snow, which is bigger, fluffier, and lighter, the structure of artificial snow is denser and can become slushy thanks to water drops that stay intact when it forms. When the temperature drops and under heavy load, that water bubbles could break and form the slushy surface, which could eventually lead to a hard, icy track, preferred by racers and skiers that want to go as fast as they could. You could also check our guide on how to ski on ice.
On the other hand, natural snow doesn’t tend to blend in together so fast, it is dryer and makes you feel lighter, and improves your buoyancy.
Fake Snow VS Real Snow – Can You Tell A Difference?
If you wonder is it easy to know the difference between these two types of snow, the answer to that question is – no, it is not. At least, not most of the time, as there are a few factors that affect this:
- The freshness of the piste is one of the most important things when it comes to knowing the type of snow. Even beginner skiers will be able to feel the difference between a freshly groomed artificial snow track and the off-piste track made out of natural snow. On the other hand, if the track is a week old or more, it will be hard to tell the difference because even natural snow will become wetter, denser, and heavier than it was at first. Many skiers compare artificial snow to the two-week-old track.
- Experience the skier has is the second thing that affects the ability to learn the difference between the two. Skiers with more hours will learn how to determine the type of snow by the way their skis behave.
- The number of users also affects this, because the more skiers use the track, the more compact it becomes and it is harder to tell the difference.
- Quality of machines, humidity, temperature plays a role in the quality of artificial snow.
Another way to learn whether the snow is natural or artificial is by the condition of the skis. Remember, moving through natural snow is smoother and easier because it is more buoyant. This also means it won’t affect the quality of your skis as fast as artificial snow will, but again if the machines, humidity, and temperature are optimal, the difference should be minimal.
What Are Natural And Artificial Snow Used For?
- Natural snow is the go-to option for people that are there for fun and relaxation, and it is also the best choice for skiing beginners because of its buoyancy and the fact that it is easier to move and turn on it, without gaining to much speed.
- Artificial snow is used for skiing and snowboarding competitions. Its tendency to become icy and hard on the surface makes it great for achieving bigger speed. That’s why it is the main option for most competitions, like the Winter Olympics, World cups, etc. And it also extends the season by allowing it to start sooner and last longer.
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If you ask skiers which one they prefer, the vast majority will choose natural snow as their favorite, and it is completely understandable why, as it does provide a better feeling and it is easier on skis. But, it doesn’t mean that you should skip the chance to ski if the track you’ll be visiting is artificial. It has its perks and advantages, the same as its flaws, but once you step onto the track and start going down, you probably won’t think too much about it.
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- Snowmaking, Wikipedia.org