Ski Tunnels: A Way to Future-Proof Skiing?

Skiing through a long, covered tunnel without natural light might sound unpleasant to some, but ski tunnels could be the future of skiing in Scandinavia.

In Sweden, climate change means fewer days of snow cover. The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute writes that the country is 1.9°C warmer because of climate change, with a snow season that is two weeks shorter than before 1991.

Keeping cross-country going for longer

Cross-country skiing is a huge sport in Scandinavia, both professionally and recreationally. Hoping to keep their ski seasons alive, countries like Sweden and Finland have attempted to future-proof the sport.

Sweden’s Torsby Ski Tunnel opened in 2006 and Finland opened the world’s first cross-country ski tunnel, Vuokatti, in 1998. Since those two mega-projects opened, other, smaller, ski tunnels have opened for business too.

Vuokatti ski tunnel

Vuokatti ski tunnel. Photo: Coconut Sports


Torsby was the largest ski tunnel in the world when it was built. It is 1.3km long and lined with permafrost-covered concrete pipes to maintain the low temperature. Above the pipes sits a thin layer of artificial snow that protects them during the four months the ski tunnel closes each year.

Despite some resistance to skiing indoors, Torsby Tunnel is very popular. The technology works. Provided you can put up with the strip lighting and monotony of the view, the tunnel offers perfect training conditions from June to February.

A new trend?

So, will similar ski tunnels pop up in North America or the Alps? It seems unlikely. Constructing a center for cross-country skiing is a very different proposition to future-proofing downhill ski resorts. Still, the adaptability and ingenuity displayed in Finland and Sweden could point the way to a warmer future that still has space for winter sports.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found out in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.