A water cannon from the Hahnenkamm brand
In order to make even more effective use of water during grooming work on the Streif and Ganslern slopes, Andreas Schipflinger modified the workings of an ordinary muck spreader. In the meantime, he has produced 40 of them, and not just for the races in Kitzbühel.
Not only are there many industrious hands working along the Streif and Ganslernhang slopes before and during the races, but also creative minds. For example, Andreas Schipflinger, section manager on the Seidlalm, a trained machine fitter and "inventor" of the Hahnenkamm water cannon. His ingenious idea of adapting an agricultural muck spreader was so successful, he has since produced a further 40 models.
"My colleagues once tested a slurry thrower on the Traverse and realised that you can get much more water onto the racecourse than with a spray bar, " says Andreas Schipflinger, while recalling the initial experiment. A few adaptations, however, were still necessary to turn it into what he calls a "practical and convenient water cannon". One unit weighs 25 to 30 kilos and ten of them are located along the Streif in the utility sheds: "The handbrake lever regulates the inflow or opening and it’s “throw range” extends easily up to 40 metres. "
It takes Andreas Schipflinger around a day to make one of these adapted water cannons: "I used to cut the metal parts myself, but now it's laser-cut by professionals in Fieberbrunn."
The new supplement to the spray bar is not only very popular on the Streif, Andreas Schipflinger's innovation is also used on World Cup courses in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Alta Badia, Val-d'Isère and in the USA. ORF documentary-makers of, "Die stillen Helden der Streif – the Silent Heroes of the Streif" visited him in his workshop – to be broadcast on 17th January at 20.15 hrs on ORF 1.
But why are World Cup slopes groomed with water in the first place? "So that the slope is compact and offers the same conditions from top to bottom. Ideally, from start number 1 to the last athlete," explains Andreas Schipflinger.
Photo © K.S.C./alpinguin