Meet the Canadian company that's bringing snow to Sochi
Published Tuesday, February 18, 2014 1:02PM EST
It's impossible to host the Winter Olympics without snow, but the sunny skies and rising temperatures in Sochi are causing some problems for Olympic organizers and athletes.
That’s why a Toronto-based company has been working around the clock to help transform sub-tropical Sochi into something that resembles winter.
IceGen Inc. is running a 24/7 operation at the Olympic ski jump and cross-country skiing venues, where there hasn't been a single day of below freezing temperatures since the Games began.
What sets IceGen apart from other snow-making operations in Sochi is that it's the only company that can produce snow even when temperatures hover around the 20 C mark.
"I would call it spring snow," says IceGen business developer David Bowden. "It's not fluffy December snow coming out of the sky, it's the kind of heavy packing snow that you find in the spring. But it's a lot nicer than cross-country skiing in mud."
Bowden told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday that IceGen has three truck trailers creating about 30,000 cubic feet of "slurry ice" daily.
"Think of a frozen margarita or Slurpee," he said. "It's a mix of really fine crystals of ice floating in water."
The slurry mixture is put into large separation towers, in which the ice floats to the top and water sinks to the bottom.
The machines differ from snow cannons, often used at ski resorts, in that the cannons can only make snow at 0 C or colder.
IceGen had athletes test out the snow two years ahead of the Sochi Games.
"We did a lot of experimentation in Norway and Finland," Bowden said. "We had athletes ski on it in August and September and said they said it's great snow, it's very skiable."