Truly good slopes aren’t something you create by just clearing snow and making a piste. They need to be sculpted and built in layers so that they are good for skiing all season long. Snow artist Bjørn Tverberg is the centre manager at Gausta Skisenter.
It was his interest in telemark skiing that led Bjørn to move to Tinn Austbygd, north of Lake Tinnsjø, around 30 kilometres from Gausta. He hoped to do a lot of skiing, but over the years his interest in skiing turned into an interest in snow. Today Bjørn’s feel for snow is well-known and he is often hired as a trainer.
“I started by preparing long-distance trails in 1994, and then I switched to pistes and ski lifts,” he says.
In 2006 he helped build the first TechnoAlpin facility in Brendstaul and since then he has worked full time for Gausta Skisenter.
“I’ve always liked snow and its character. It’s always fascinated me. The snow crystals that form change depending on the temperature and humidity,” he explains.
Slopes that last all season
Producing snow isn’t just a case of pressing a button and starting up the snow cannons. It’s important to understand the snow that is already lying on the slopes, the weather that’s expected and many other factors.
“When we build the layers of the slopes for the season, we start with a layer of wet snow that freezes on. This helps us create a slope that will last the season. We then add layers of drier snow on top, which are nice to ski on.”
Bjørn and his colleagues can control the fully automatic snow production facility at Gausta Skisenter using a phone app. They can control which crystals are formed by adjusting the settings.
“The crystals of the snow that is prepared and packed become hard and sugar-like over time. That’s why it’s important that fresh natural snow or the right kind of artificial snow is continuously added to the slopes,” explains Bjørn.
In the winter, his team grows from 10 to 45 when seasonal staff are hired to crew lifts, trails and slopes. A lot of the work has to be done during the hours when there are no skiers around.
“In spring and summer we carry out maintenance and service on all the lifts and machines. Towards the end of the summer, when the plants have stopped growing, we trim the slopes to remove any brushwood and raspberry shrubs that have grown,” he says.
Snow production at Gausta has been significantly renewed and strengthened to a value of around 50 million NOK ahead of the 2019/2020 winter season. With higher capacity pumps and expanded production in Sondreløype, Svarten and Linken, it’s hoped that the western and eastern parts of the ski system will be even better connected.
“We’ve also expanded and widened the Linken and Svarten slopes to create even better conditions for skiing. So now we’re hoping for a really good winter. We’re ready,” says Bjørn.
Name: Bjørn Tverberg
Role: Centre manager at Gausta Skisenter
Lives in: Tinn Austbygd
Interests: Very keen on hunting, nature and the mountains.