Torino has had an unusually mild winter this year. Not enough snow. Which could spell bad news for the XX Winter Olympics, whose skiing events will take place on the Alps near the Piedmont city.
For snow, Olympic officials turned to a seemingly unlikely spot: Israel.
Bermad Control Valves, a kibbutz-based firm that usually makes products for warm-weather irrigation, supplied a key element of the man-made snow that will cover the mountainsides during the Games.
Bermad’s solution to the bare slopes: enhance the natural base with artificial snow created from strong streams of water scattered under extremely high pressure onto the ski runs. The cannon that shoots the water "requires the water to be at a certain pressure and flow," Ofir Marks, Bermad’s export marketing manager, told the ISRAEL21c press service. Company engineers stayed in Italy to supervise the nonstop installation of the equipment. In the interim, some natural snow fell on the region.
Why did Italy choose a Mediterranean company to solve its winter problem?
"Our subsidiary in Milan has done a lot of work with ski resorts in Italy, and it was natural that we would be chosen for the Olympics," Marks said.
The main Bermad factory on Kibbutz Evron in northern Israel employs 350 people, and the firm has seven subsidiaries around the world, including one in California.
"Our bread and butter is irrigation and waterworks system," Marks said. "The snowmaking is just an interesting sideline."
ISRAEL21c pointed out one irony: Bermad’s snowmaking technology is not used on Mount Hermon, Israel’s sole skiing slope, in the Golan Heights. It doesn’t stay sufficiently cold long enough there to use the equipment.
The equipment may be needed on Saturday in Torino, when the skiing events start: the weather reports predict sunny skies and a high temperature of 44 degrees.