USA Ski "Tunnel"

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E365
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USA Ski "Tunnel"

Postby E365 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:11 pm

We were talking about a US ski tunnel (or at least indoors) in this thread and I thought I'd start a dedicated one.

A few years ago there was plans for one in the Twin Cities metro and it never happened. The estimated $14 million (!) to make it and the unknown revenue it would produce were my guess it's top two killers.

Here's my plan:

Build a crude steel structure (cheap) just like a basic municipal hockey arena shown below. A standard hockey rink is 200' long and 85' wide. Make the building long enough to house two rinks, end to end while maintaining the width similar to the rink in the picture. I assume it's about 100' wide (7.5' walkways on the side) This would leave a building approximately 450' x 100' inside (when you add in space from the walls and between the rinks). 45,000 square ft.

During construction you add at a minimum the tubing in the concrete required to chill two hockey rinks. I don't know if floor chilling would be required to keep a snow pack, or if the HVAC system could do that.... More on the tubes in a minute.

Assuming you have a 425' skiable length inside, you create a 15'+ wide ski lane running five lengths of the structure. That's about .65km. Some slight elevation would be included. Adding a second level like the Finnish "warehouse style" ski building would add more length.

Assuming this would have to be at least funded in part publicly, or maybe not (?), here's how you sell it: The city/county/whatever would have a chance to have the only US indoor XC ski center. BUT, if the business fails the building will not be wasted. You then are left with a building that houses two municipal hockey rinks, ready-to-go, chilling pipes in the cement. All you add is the boards, some extras like nets and scoreboard and you are ready to go. Install those chillers at that time too, if still needed.

Assuming the municipality could potentially have use for two hockey rinks (and many do, especially the outer growing suburbs in the Twin Cities) there's relatively little risk. Unlike a true tunnel which has very little use outside of a nordic ski tunnel, this type of structure, even outside of a hockey rink could have many other uses.

Steel structure in ice rink form. Imagine it twice as long as we see here.
Image

Here's the elevated sections used in the Finnish warehouse. Probably couldn't do it to this extent with the limited width, but it's a good idea to not only add course length but elevation.
Image
Last edited by E365 on Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:58 am, edited 3 times in total.

CCxcskier
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ski warehouse

Postby CCxcskier » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:17 am

The key to getting funding (public or private is can you show usage, how many hours per week can you show that the facility will be used.

I remember the ski tube, maybe someone involved in that effort is availible to share contacts and plans and details of why things didn't work out.

A list of groups that would rent time in it, from high school teams, youth groups, adult training groups, etc would be a place to start building an effort.

After hours are set aside for ski groups and for some open time then it gets trickier. Gyms, dance studios, archery ranges, and any other rec facility can show you what they do to book their facility as many hours as possible: bithday parties, leagues, women's nights.

The trick is to think like those facilities and not like a nordic ski facility.

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Re: USA Ski "Tunnel"

Postby LewLasher » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:34 am

E365 wrote:Assuming this would have to be at least funded in part publicly, or maybe not (?)

A non-profit organization might be a good way to organize this project, too, based on the example of http://www.nordicnow.org. That group applied for non-profit status on the basis of providing an athletic training facility. However, this does not prevent the facility from being used for other purposes as well.

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Re: ski warehouse

Postby E365 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:51 am

CCxcskier wrote:I remember the ski tube, maybe someone involved in that effort is availible to share contacts and plans and details of why things didn't work out.


I'd really like to find that out as well. My guesses were, first the $14 million. That's a LOT of cash and that was the first thing I thought needed to addressed. While I don't know how much something like this would cost, I really don't think it would be anywhere near that figure. These steel buildings are very simple structures. And by making it long vs. going for a more square builing, there shouldn't be much as far as "extra" engineering. I'd guess you could just keep lining those full-span arches as far as you'd want.

My second guess is that investors thought if this did fail, how do we re-coup the cost of this crazy (but cool) concrete tunnel that meanders through a field. Minimizing risk/loss in case of failure was the other point I wanted to address. By making a more universal building, I think you would, at least to some extent.

As you mentioned, "off-time" type activities would help. I'll have to look over the existing european centers websites, but I do remember seeing some sledding at one. Not sure how fun that would be with the limited elevation.

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Postby Cloxxki » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:42 am

I truly believe, the long-term running costs of such a facility are mostly dependent on one factor : building insulation.
Insulation is something you only need to do once. Get it right, and all it takes (exaggerated) is bringing in the first load of snow, and it will be cold in there "forever".
In these times where global warming is a key government agenda point, sell it as "renewable", "CO2 neutral" and that kind of crap.
I lack technical knowledge, but I can see a roof being used to pump around water, heated by the sun. A heat switch would generate a freezing in the appropriate places of the building. Remember that if you want to make your own snow, just a cold floor may not suffice.

Oberhof's ski tunnel is apparantly built such, that should a huge power outage occur, skiing in the summer will continue some 3 weeks without new snow or refrigiration.

Insulation is a thing of beauty. A well-insulated room can be kept at comfortable temperature amidst a 0F cold, by a single candle, or less. This technology actually exist, just is not cheap yet. Insulation investement is al-ways won back in reduced energy costs, though.

Working multiple floor levels has many advantage : more ski tracks per square meter of exposure to earth (7 deg C?) , sun and and sky (big range).

One idea would to have the top floor of the building be used for a kind of entertainment where higher temperatures are most welcome. Like a subtropical swimming pool. This would kill my heat switch idea for the most part.

With LED light technology advancements, it saves serious energy to keep the snow away from the sun, and use a bit of electricity to light the tracks. Expensive, but worth it, would be a roof of solar cells. I bet that it could provide all the power for the facility, if it's properly insulated. Less complicated, all existing technology. Without a heat bill, all you're dealing with is purchase cost of the land building. Make it a mobile building though (Hey, inflatible! Trapped ait is a great insulator to boot), and you're less stuck with one host city and it's butting in your affairs.
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Postby Mark M » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:07 am

Two major problems exist with these one projects:
- how to keep the enterprise going on business-wise (big investment, schedules to avoid big crowds etc)
- keeping the skiing conditions stable. Indoor snow transforms into strange substance after heavy use and requres the snow to be changed after some time. Using the snow machines indoors is problematic for some reason and in that Finnish arena they use snow from outdoors as a base.

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Postby MN Hoser » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:06 pm

My first thought was something similar to Jan's. I.e., build the building with excellent insulation and make a few feet of snow in the cold months. Then use the facility for as long as the snow lasts. A groomer with power like a zamboni would be needed because snowmobiles produce too much pollution (it would dirty both the air and snow). The real problem is that most folks don't want to ski in March - June or July. People want to ski before the next season. If you need serious refrigeration, that's pretty serious money. Even a house AC can run a hundred or two per month (depending on house). Just imagine setting the thermostat to 25 F. Wow.

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Postby lkm » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:20 pm

The advantage to having a tunnel (underground) is that it takes a lot less energy to keep it cold. The ground is a natural insulator. In fact, if you go down very far the temperature stays close to the annual average temperature year round. I know somebody with a house partially underground (built into the side of a hill). Their energy costs are low.

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Postby kuan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:01 am

Like I said before. Find an abandoned RR tunnel and convert it.
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Postby E365 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:01 pm

kuan wrote:Like I said before. Find an abandoned RR tunnel and convert it.


That would be great actually. I wonder if there are any reasonably close to a population center that would use it? Also, would it be wide enough to have two-way traffic? I really can't picture in my mind how wide they made some. (I'm sure it varies)

-----

As for energy costs for a building, that was my big concern in the other thread. It would take a LOT of energy to keep something that big, that cold.

I'd like to learn the energy costs for a standard city hockey rink. If you did chill the floor, I wonder how long a natural snowpack would last? I'm reading that hockey arenas are kept at 50-60F (air temp) which is a lot more doable that 32F or less.

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Postby kuan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:29 pm

Good point. There aren't any I know off in the Twincities. Back to the warehouse idea.

Maybe we can find an old Supervalu refrigerated produce warehouse. Blow snow in through the loading dock.

BTW that live cam view looks like one of those department store Christmas displays.
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E365
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Postby E365 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:32 pm

kuan wrote:
BTW that live cam view looks like one of those department store Christmas displays.


I does, doesn't it! That little building with the lights and the random pine trees :lol:

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Postby Cloxxki » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:12 am

What about a boat? End of life cargo vessel.
Sits in Atlantic waters. What temperature does that water run? Anyway, insulate the heck out of it anyway. A voyage to nothern waters might be a relatively cost-efective way to top off on snow, self made from fresh water brought along, with cost air delivered for free. Too much snow doesn't exist. Let the actual snow that's skied on be seperate from it though.
Ships are great for gaining elevation in the course.

Oberhof seems to make its own snow. A harde central hall was made for that purpose.
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