In the last couple of decades a quiet, slow revolution has taken place in cross-country skiing.
The revolution in snow grooming. Well prepared trails are not just appreciated – they are totally expected by both pros and enthusiasts wherever they go. Archive videos from the Olympics past prompt almost an indignation: They run on THAT snow mess? didn’t they have groomers?!
Well, there is one huge problem: snowgrooming machines for cross country skiing are very much a niche product within ( a niche product itself) snowgroomers: No secret that a lion share of those designed & sold is aimed at downhill skiing slopes.
Niche products tend to be expensive. A current golden standard of xcskiing trail making, famed PistenBully 100 retails for up to 400.000 euros when new!
Somebody took a note.
Enter MTZ Belarus. You probably heard the name before – Belarus was one of the largest tractor producers in the Soviet Union. It survived the USSR’s collapse quite well and is currently making tens of thousands of wheeled and tracked machines that it sells the world over. The exports to the European Union countries, for instance, grew up 13% in the last year and over 3000 tractors etc. found its new owners down there.
So, MTZ Belarus is a solid, established machine maker with both expertise and money to spend on ski-specific R & D
And here they are, the results of that R & D, unveiled last week in Minsk
check out the price tag: USD 130.000 for the new groomer that is clearly designed to take on PistenBully 100! Or about third of the list price of the latter.
Good equipment makers of Belarus don’t hide their desire to invade the market with cheap but cheerful machines that are doing their jobs as well as their storied competitors.
Here, practice your Russian
We don’t see World Cup -class ski stadiums abandoning their Bullies for Belarus in the near future, but for smaller facilities and clubs, where trail grooming is , perhaps, biggest of expenses, new Belarus machines might be a lifeline.
At any rate, more equipment producers, marketologists and businessmen look at xcskiing as an area of investment – the better.
All photos are courtesy of their respective owners