The cross country World Cup season is in full swing. After early season stops in winter wonderlands like Ruka, Lillehammer and Davos, the World Cup heads to Dresden, Germany this weekend.
Dresden?! Do they even have snow?
I first visited Dresden in 2013, shortly after leaving New Moon to develop trips for a bike tour company. I was skeptical too, but soon fell in love with the city and its surroundings.
Dresden historically is probably most known for the intense bombings it took close to the end of the Second World War. When Germany was split after the war, Dresden became part of East Germany. Since reunification in 1990, Dresden has slowly been rebuilt with a vibrant city center that has a European old city feel with narrow, cobbled pedestrian streets, but in reality is only about 10 years old. About an hour outside of Dresden lies the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), where much of the ski culture thrives.
When I first heard Dresden was hosting a World Cup, I reached out to a friend in their tourism office and was invited to spend the weekend at the event.
For me, the relationship between Dresden and the Erzgebirge feels similar to Minneapolis and Northern Wisconsin. When applying to host the World Cup, Dresden promoted the idea of bringing snow to the people, rather than people to the snow. As Minneapolis and Hayward prepare to host a World Cup in 2024, perhaps these photos share a little insight into organizing a world-class event.
Here are some insights from my conversation with Torsten Püschel, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Dresden World Cup to learn more about hosting a City Sprint World Cup.
Püschel grew up in Dresden as an elite athlete when the city was part of East Germany. He has spent the past 20 years working as a sports commentator for German television and radio, including the past six Olympic Games.
Why bring a World Cup to Dresden? Torsten shared, “Dresden itself is cold, but does not always have snow in the winter. Instead, people typically travel around 45 minutes into the surrounding Erzgebirge mountains to ski. Rather than make people travel to snow, our inspiration was to bring the World Cup to the people.”
“Creating an environmentally sustainable World Cup has actually been one of the most interesting parts of the project. From the beginning, we wanted to make sure the event was ‘green’–in the environmental sense at least. FIS actually has a Green Event Manual. We used the manual, along with the input from several local, environmentally focused non-profits, to make the event as sustainable as possible.
For example, it is actually better to host a city event, than a rural event in the mountains because everything is so central. The athlete hotel is located right next to the course, so racers and coaches can walk to the venue. Tickets for spectators include public transportation.
FIS now requires that every World Cup venue has snowmaking, so every event is making snow–not just city sprints. We make our snow at the Dresden Airport with non-potable water collected from the roof of the airport. Snow guns make the snow inside an airport hanger, so no moisture is lost to wind or sun. The energy used to make the snow is 100% renewable; from hydro-, solar- and wind power.”
“It takes about a month to make all the snow for the event, which we can even make in temperatures above freezing. Two days before the event, we transfer the snow from the airport to the venue. A short 650m snow loop has several advantages. First, it means we do not need to make much snow. Second, racers ski two laps, which is more exciting for spectators. On the team-sprint day, racers ski past the spectators 72 times–more than any other World Cup event.
The total carbon required for our snow production is about the same as one person in Dresden would use in two months of normal living.”
Lumi Experiences offers behind-the-scenes access to several World Cup events throughout the winter. Reach out to learn more about attending the Dresden World Cup or another of your favorite events next winter!
See you on the trail soon, Garott Kuzzy