The Shaper Summer 2020
The summer of 2020 was special in many ways. The change of the JOKER CARD model in autumn 2019 was accompanied by a quality offensive in the offer. In addition to this challenge, the Corona pandemic also hit us in the spring. But how did the summer go from the point of view of our shapers? I talked to Roland Hofer, Head Shaper in Saalbach Hinterglemm and CEO of Shape Syndicate.
How did the summer of 2020 go from your point of view, or what preparations have already been made in autumn 2019?
It was clear to us that we could only meet the quality demands with more shapers in the team. Therefore the crew was enlarged accordingly. With new staff, of course, there were also more ideas and fresh impulses. Already in autumn 2019 optimisations of several trails were worked out and implemented. Lines were changed, curves were laid out differently and minor alterations were made in order to minimise erosion on the trail sections. Everything that we create in autumn will last longer because all the material can settle perfectly over the winter.
What was implemented in summer 2020? How are the braking bumps doing ;)
Small renovations were and are still pending. Bucheggtrail and Pro Line were partly rebuilt. The Bergstadltrail has been given a new passage, which means that the push route has finally been eliminated. For the first time, we started at 05:00 am for weeks before sunrise in order to carry out basic renovation work - which is otherwise unusual in ongoing operations. This helped us especially in the area of the - unavoidable - braking bumps, as these can only be removed by rough earthwork.
What were the special challenges in summer 2020?
Of course, we were also concerned with the topic of Corona. The strict lockdown was in a phase in which we normally work off-road for weeks on end. That increased the pressure. In addition, personnel planning was difficult, as it was difficult to predict for a long time how the bike season would develop. In the end it went great and we were able to start with full staff.
Besides the already mentioned planning uncertainty at the beginning, we didn't have to struggle with any major problems. Fortunately, there were no damages from thunderstorms. Only a longer period of dry weather had a strong impact on the trails. The problem: If the ground is very dry, we cannot apply new material because it does not bond well with the ground. The erosion is enormous in such phases and it requires the full commitment of the crew to ensure that we meet the expectations of our guests.
Of course, the onset of winter in the season finale at the end of September also put us under extreme pressure. For one day, all trails were closed, then one after the other trail could be reopened. Despite the warmer temperatures, we had to, or rather have to, clear many trail kilometres of snow and ice by hand in order to be able to offer as much as possible for the last days of the season.
End of the season and off you go on holiday, or do you still have something to do? ;)
No, unfortunately it does not work like that. We use every day until the "real" winter sets in to make the trails fit for the biking summer 2021. Immediately after the last operating day of the gondolas on October 4th, we start on almost all mountains at the same time with several diggers and with a lot of manual work. The surface of the trails will be renewed with a special mixture and then finely shaped. After the winter these trails are then in top condition and usually only need a little spring cleaning. The season starts on 21 May on Kohlmais, and from 3 June 2021 all gondolas will be in operation.
The biggest project for summer 2021 is the new LEARN TO RIDE PARK next to the Kohlmais gondola station in Saalbach. This will be a great area for small and big trail beginners. We have already started the work, the park - which can be used free of charge - including a magic carpet will be opened on 21 May 2021.