Rocky start to Swedish ski season

It has been a bad start to Sweden's ski season. With a fraction of the runs open and snow cannons working overtime to keep them skiable, operators are frantically scanning the weather forecasts for any signs of snow.

According to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI, the average temperature in the north of Sweden has increased by two degrees in the last fifteen years. Meanwhile, Scandinavia’s biggest ski-operator, SkiStar, has introduced a snow-guarantee policy for the winter season, starting from November 15th, until May 1st.

The company’s policy for the popular resort of Sälen, for example, states that if fewer than 15 pistes are open during the visitor’s stay, than the person has the right to demand their money back. The cost for cottage rental, ski-pass and ski-rentals will be returned, together with the cancellation insurance.

Sälen in the region of Dalarna, about 400 kilometres from Stockholm. So far, half of the 250 reservations for the coming weekend have been cancelled and the visitors have demanded their money back, according to Ekonominyheterna.

Han Alexandersson, a meteorologist at SMHI, thinks that the snow guarantee introduced by the ski-resorts are rather brave. The winter has started badly and the temperatures have been above average, he told The Local.

“If you consider how the climate has changed over the past years, especially the fact that snowfall has decreased by up to 40 percent compared to the 1960s, for example, the companies that introduce snow guarantee are risking their finances,” said Alexandersson.

But at SkiStar, nobody is expressing concern publicly. Caisa Reis, spokeswoman for SkiStar, said that the company is still not worried about the lack of snow on the trails.

“We still have the Christmas Holiday to look forward to. So far, we have only had visitors at the weekends so the mild winter has not affected us too badly,” said Reis.

Since Wednesday, the temperature has dropped and as long as it is below zero, the snow trails can be filled by the cannons, explained Reis. But the activities up in Sälen don’t solely depend on snow.

“We have called all of our guests who had reservations this weekend and explained the situation. Some chose to come up anyway while others re-booked their vacation. So far, all of the snow trails are closed due to lack of snow, but there are other activities available for our guests,” says Reis.