Sure, that’s possible. Either far away in the southern hemisphere (e.g. in New Zealand), because the seasons are reversed there, or all year round on high alpine glaciers.
But you can get it easier and right in the middle of Germany. What I knew so far were the usual ski halls with a drag lift. This time the so-called SKI TUNNEL OF OBERHOF in Thuringia is on the program. The 400-meter-long, winding hall building is embedded in the landscape like a white dragon and is situated close to the famous Rennsteig-Arena.
Not only winner champions are made here and many of our cross-country and biathlon Olympians train here all year round, but also amateurs (clubs and private individuals) are allowed to do their laps at certain times in the afternoon or evening. Even the cracks from other nations like to use this training center to lay a sound basis for the upcoming season. Roller skies may function as a substitute in summer, but training on snow is irreplaceable and of crucial importance. As far as I know only in Sweden and Finland you find similar training options.
In fact, Oberhof is the only indoor ski area in Germany where only Nordic skiing is on focus; concrete cross-country skiing, the combiners and biathletes. As a country-cross-skier you simply need long enough tracks. The eight-meter-wide piste consequently offers up to 1.75 kilometers of classic and skating runs. The maximum gradient on the route is about 12 percent, a total of 24 meters difference in altitude.
Four snow machines ensure ideal snow conditions all year round. Thanks to modern cooling technology and sustainable isolation materials, energy consumption can be kept as low as possible (cooling output 620 kilowatts). The floor cooling of the 70,000 square meters is guaranteed by cooling coils in the cement floor. The temperature inside the hall is always minus 3 to 4 degrees; no matter what reads the outside temperature. Aprox. 18,000 amateur athletes and around 10,000 competitive athletes from Germany and abroad are guests in the hall every year. In 2011, four 50 meter biathlon shooting ranges (for small caliber and air rifle) were added. Clack, clack, bang!
Everything what a cross-country and biathlon heart desires is offered. From group to individual training, from running to shooting technique. Just take a look at the center’s WEBSITE if you want to know more details and enjoy additional fotos. https://www.oberhof-skisporthalle.de/
One hour is available for EUR 15.- (adults), children up to 5 five years have free admission. There are also various family and discount offers. If you don’t have your own skis, you can of course aquire good rental equipment. Disabled sports are also promoted here.
Being allowed to take a closer look, I meet with Mr. Uwe B., the ultimative “snow master”, who exclusively leads me through the spacious, bright tunnel tubes as well as the technique and engine rooms. Close to the entrance, above the access area, there is a visitor balcony with a small restaurant. From there you have an excellent overview of the central section of the runs and a great view to the forest through the numerous windows.
The first ski testers are already at work. The snow crunches under my shoes and the first clouds of breath appear in the cold air. The atmosphere is motivating and I’d like to strap on my skis right away and join in. I immediately notice the pleasant air circulation. That means, thanks to 19 convection coolers, there are no clouds of fog (as I know them from summer iceskating halls). And instead of the usual dry air, there is a pleasant humidity of 80-90 percent. The snow produced by a snow machine has a very special grain size. The groomed double cross-country ski trails feel hard but grippy at this point. I then follow my expert along the slope to the downhill curve. Not bad, this leaves enough work out/ energy input on countless laps and build up the necessary stamina fitness.
After a short stop in the snow depot hall, we continue to the engine room. Countless cables, power units, switch boxes, pumps, thermometers…. Wow!
There is still a lot to report about the installed cameras and monitors as well as various setups for training and individual performance monitoring. Thanks to the building services, the trainers really have verious concept and optimization options here – sometimes even without getting cold feet. All athletes and guests may of course use changing and shower rooms at a pleasant temperature.
The hall of course, will play a central role in the preparations for the biathlon (and luge) World Championships in 2023. The aim is to organize the competitions in a climate-neutral way.
Incidentally, the technical masterpiece turned 12 yeras old in September 2021. The cost of the complex, which was built in just 13 months, was around 14 million euros, half of which was borne by the federal and state governments.
However, even such a training facility does not guarantee for victories, and in addition a lot of training sweat has to flow. But without these prerequisites, even the greatest talent could hardly climb the podium. Many big names in Nordic skiing (there is also a ski jump not far from the hall) can also be found on the walls of the administration building. Converting from an amateur to a professional – that’s possible here! … or just have fun in the snow all year round.
I’ll be back and would like to take a 3-day biathlon course to finally improve my shooting technique under stress. Ski – my boards that mean the world. Further infos regarding the wintersport in Thuringia under: https://www.wintersportzentrum-thueringen.de/