Bílá Hora – a last resort for die-hard ski enthusiasts

Photo: Ondřej Tomšů

Despite the spell of unseasonably warm weather, most of the country’s skiing resorts are still in operation, thanks to heavy snowfall earlier this year. And even in Prague, where the first signs of spring can already be spotted, the skiing season is not quite over.

Photo: Ondřej Tomšů

Photo: Ondřej Tomšů
Believe it or not, the history of Czech skiing started in Prague, right in the centre of the city. On January 5, 1887, the local skiing pioneer Josef Rössler-Ořovský used Wenceslas Square for his first skiing run. Of course, back then, winters were considerably rougher and snowfall more intense.

As the weather got milder, the opportunities for skiing in the capital radically diminished, but even today, you can enjoy some cross country skiing in one the city’s many parks, like Ladronka, Hvězda, Stromovka and Divoká Šárka, although the season usually lasts for just a couple of weeks.

Despite the warm weather in recent days, there is still a place in the city with snow on the ground. It is a cross-country skiing track located close to Prague Castle, called SkiPark Praha. Libor Bezděk is the director the Children and Youth Centre, which is in charge of the track:

“We are at Vypich, one of the most elevated places in Prague, close to Bílá Hora. We chose this place because we need to have a temperature of at least four degrees below zero to produce artificial snow.

Libor Bezděk,  photo: Ondřej Tomšů
“In the past, the skiing track was located at the horserace course in Chuchle. It is located at around 190 metres above sea level, so there were much fewer days when snow cannons could be in operation, and as a result, the season was much shorter.

“The difference between Chuchle and Vypich is about two degrees, which is crucial when it comes to artificial snow making.”

The groomed track is 350 metres long, but thanks to heavy snowfall at the end of January, it was temporarily extended to two kilometres.

The track, which is easily accessible by tram, is mostly used by seniors and families with children, who are new to cross country-skiing. There is also a rental place, which offers free skis and training for schoolchildren.

The ski park is still operating thanks to a reserve of artificial snow, produced by snow cannons when temperatures were still below zero, explains Libor Bezděk:

Photo: Ondřej Tomšů
“At the end of January, we made loads of artificial snow. In February, when the weather got warmer, it was almost impossible to run the snow cannons. But we still have a huge snow pile and we will gradually spread it with a snow cat to keep the track in operation as long as possible.”

Last year, the cross-country skiing track at Vypich attracted around 30,000 people and organizers say that this year the numbers will be even higher. If the weather allows, SkiPark Praha could remain in operation for another three weeks.