Technology export

Spectacular ropeway constructions from the 1920s and 1930s still bear witness to the Alpine pioneering achievement in the construction of sports facilities. Numerous companies in Tirol are continuing this tradition and keep producing impressive innovative solutions.

When the "Voyager of the Seas" first set sail in 1999, she was the largest cruise ship in the world. A crew of more than 1000 catered to the needs of the 3000+ passengers, the ship had it all: a theatre for an audience of 1300, mini-golf course, rock-climbing wall and basketball court, a "shopping street" 120 metres long, 9 metres wide and four decks high. The US-based cruise company Royal Caribbean Cruiselines Ltd managed to angle a very special guest for the christening – Katharina Witt. But the German figure skating star didn't just stop at smashing the obligatory bottle of French champagne on the ship's hull in Turku in Finland, she mesmerised the invited guests with the first ever ice show on a cruise ship. The icy foundation for Witt's ice skates came from Tirol.

Whether Moscow, Quebec or Vienna, whether an ice rink at the Christmas market, ice hockey in the football stadium, a city ice rink with 21,000 square metres or simply a "Holiday on Ice" show on a cruise ship – when the right kind of ice is needed, organisers turn to AST Eis- und Solartechnik and their expertise. Founded in 1986 in Telfs in Tirol – and moved to Reutte in the district of Außerfernat in 1998 – this 40-strong company has since then become the market and innovation leader in Europe in absorber system technology for cooling solutions. "One reason," Peter Hirvell, the managing director of AST, says, "was certainly our development of mobile ice rinks." A concept that enabled them to pre-assemble ice rinks consisting of modules in Reutte and then export them all over the world.

The Technology Centre for Ski and Alpine Sports (TSA) in Innsbruck is also working on pre-assembly, ice also plays just as an important role. In 2006, companies based in Tirol met representatives from TSA and the Tirolean Luge Federation for the first time. The aim of the meeting was to create affordable training opportunities for lugers because the few bobsleigh and luge tracks suitable for world cup competitions were used to their capacity during the season. Furthermore, building a new luge track with artificial ice is extremely expensive.

The bobsleigh and luge track for Sochi 2014 apparently cost 175 million euros, the one in Pyeongchang – 2018 Olympics - is said to cost about 100 million. The out-come of the meeting was a plan to develop

a luge track based on a modular system. Ten years later and with a lot more experience, it is finally happening in Bludenz in Vorarlberg – the first artificial luge track is being been built on a modular basis.

90 ski resorts with more than 3000 kilometres of pistes and more than 1100 lifts and mountain railways, tracks used in competitions for luge, bobsleigh and skeleton sports, facilities suitable for world cup competitions in biathlon, ski jumping and cross-country skiing, ice arenas and ice rinks – when it comes to infrastructure, Tirol is a land of sports that boasts a considerable number of pioneering achievements. Luis Zuegg, born in Lana, revolutionised ropeway construction at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1926 and 1937 he built the railways on Zugspitze, Nordkette, Patscherkofel, Galzig and Hahnenkamm while working for the German ropeway company Bleichert & Co. The spectacular valley and mountain stations were designed by local architects such as Clemens Holzmeister, Alfons Walde and Franz Baumann. And winter sports facilities being designed by Tirolean companies today are also spectacular.

21,550 square metres of frozen water can be found at the ice park at the exhibition centre in Moscow. There is a unique 18,000 square metre ice rink at the theme park in Gorky Park. The ice specialists from Reutte supplied these two ice rinks, the largest in the world. On 9 January 2016, more than 31,000 fans turned up at the stadium in Dresden. This time not for football - ice hockey was being played, AST provided the ice. Red Bull was holding the Crashed Ice event, but the company from Außerfern was responsible for the ice, AST developed the Skateway system for this spectacular racing event.

"The quick and efficient assembly and disassembly of ice rinks is our forte," Peter Hirvell maintains, whereby AST also provides permanent solutions, e.g. asphalt ice rinks developed in-house. Ice mats form the basis of AST's mobile ice rinks and are made of highly elastic synthetic rubber – actually tiny tubes that are connected to each other by crosspieces. The ice mats are rolled out and then connected to form a circuit using special plug connectors, the system is

filled with a mixture of water and glycol, which has been cooled down to -10°C. Then water is sprayed onto the ice mats and freezes to form an even ice surface. Surfaces, which can be customised in any shape and size.

For "classic" surfaces such as an ice rink at a Christmas market, the ice experts rely on their tried and tested Ice Box, which consists of pre-installed collector pipes and ice mats. "A box is 2.5 metres wide, the mats are 20, 30 or 40 metres long. The desired rink size can be achieved

by placing several boxes next to each other," Hirvell says, describing the modular system.

In the future, other modular systems will benefit lugers, bobbers and skeleton sliders. "Construction of the first artificial ice track for sprinters is scheduled to start this spring and should be completed in 2017. "The costs will amount to seven million euros," according to Michael Hasler, project manager at TSA. "The ice track will be "assembled" with 1.6-metre long concrete modules. Straight parts and two different curve radii give the track the right shape. Despite having standardised modules, individual routing is still possible, according to Hasler, as it is determined by the actual terrain.

The wall is only four centimetres wide, the concrete reinforced with ultra-thin steel fibres. Thanks to the thin wall, icing is efficient, energy-saving and environmentally friendly. "During the testing we were even able to produce ice at 20°C," Hasler explains. They are planning a track stretching 700 metres. But it will not be suitable for world cup competitions (minimum length 1000 metres). It is also intended to be used by young talent, schools and visiting players. They have received a new enquiry from Russia, a pilot study is under way. Once the reference track in Bludenz is completed, the "Sledge Tube Tirol" project partners – apart from TSA, these are the companies Bernard Ingenieure, Schretter & Cie, Ing. Hans Lang and Cofely Kältetechnik – are hoping for more orders from home and abroad.

Sunkid has been enjoying international success for many years now. Leading ropeway companies and ski schools founded the company in 1996 and took the conveyor belt to the ski pistes. The "magic carpets" were designed as a climbing aid for small children at ski schools, they planned a maximum length of twelve metres. But they soon realised the advantages of the new climbing aids, they made them more powerful, more comfortable and up to 400 metres long. More than 60 countries today are being supplied from Imst. The winter conveyor belt can also be used in summer and employed e.g. for delivery systems, on practice slopes or at amusement parks.

A different kind of park is being designed by the planners Danzl + Partner. They established contact to Russia during an event at the World Cup Biathlon in Hochfilzen, which via the planning contract for a Russian biathlon facility led to another Olympic contract – the planning of the "Rosa Khutor Extreme Park" where in 2014 medals were awarded for slopestyle skiing, skicross, snowboard cross and half-pipe. The team based in 

Hochfilzen was responsible for choosing the area, mapping the route and the finished design. Medallists Julia Dujmovits and Benjamin Karl were two Austrians who benefited from the Tirolean's groundwork.

Other companies from Tirol also took their expertise to Sochi. Sunkid transported guests staying at a high-star hotel to the gondola without getting their feet wet on an 87-metre long roofed Moving Carpet, Steinbacher Dämmstoffe from Erpfendorf preserved 100,000 cubic metres of snow for a whole year under special foils, Tiroler Rohre from Hall installed 36 kilometres of pipe systems for artificial snow machines, TechnoAlpin provided 300 snow cannons for cross-country ski tracks and ski jumps. The snow-making expert, founded in Bozen in 1990, has had an office in North Tirol for several years, new company headquarters are currently being built in Volders. Apart from spare parts management, about 25 employees there will be working on fault analysis, which provides the basis for quality management and research and development.

Just like TechnoAlpin, the Leitner Technologies group from South Tirol also has a base in North Tirol. In 2008 they moved to Telfs, eight years later and they now have more than 200 employees, 40 to 50 new employees will be joining them in their current phase of expansion. The long-standing company Leitner (founded in 1888) is one of the leading ropeway specialists. The group includes Demaclenko who makes snow-making systems as well as Prinoth who manufactures snow groomers and whose spare parts warehouse with worldwide delivery is now located in Telfs. Here in this market village they also produce snow cannons and lances as well as all of the chairs for their international ropeway projects. Chairs, which are most certainly of premium quality. Leitner Premium Chairs have been adorning the new Brunn 8-seater chairlift in Kitzbühel since December. The real leather seats combine style elements and expertise from the automotive industry with high-quality materials, ergonomic design and state-of-the art technology, including heated seats.

The "Harmony of the Seas" is also of premium quality and will be reporting for duty as "the largest cruise ship in the world“. There is also a real ice rink on board, which complies with all of the ship's special requirements. It goes without saying that it came from AST in Tirol.

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