First snow ski tracks : prolonging of the natural season of the cross-country skiers in Finland
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Cross-country skiing is one of the national sports in Finland. It is a widely practiced sport and leisure activity that has a long history. Traditionally cross-country skiing has been practiced outdoors for free on natural tracks during winter months. One of the largest challenges to cross-country skiing is global warming. It causes challenges to winter sports such as cross-country skiing because winters are getting warmer. This means that the snow cover is thinner and cross-country skiing season shorter. The challenges in cross-country skiing circumstances have been solved by building first snow ski tracks. First snow ski tracks are built outdoors from stored snow and skiers need to buy tickets to get to ski at these facilities. First snow ski tracks are opened before the natural tracks and prolong the skiing season for notable time at the beginning of the season. There is not yet any published studies about the users of first snow ski tracks in Finland. Therefore, this study concentrates on the first snow ski track users in Laajavuori Jyväskylä. A total of 327 respondents filled the questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, such as mean values, frequencies and percentages were first calculated. The mean values were compared by using t-test, ANOVA and Bonferroni-test. The comparisons between the groups were analyzed by using chi-square test. Majority of the respondents were middle-aged and older men who lived in Jyväskylä. They had a rather high income level and over half had a university degree. Respondents were physically active and practiced cross-country skiing a lot. They categorized themselves as active recreational skiers. Respondents often went skiing alone and skied on average more than thousand kilometers previous winter. Over half of them competed in some sport. Eighty percent had a season pass to the first snow ski track in Laajavuori Jyväskylä. The most common reason for purchasing the season pass was the will to have access to a longer cross-country skiing season. Skiers valued the possibility to get into good condition before moving to natural tracks. Respondents enjoyed cross-country skiing and considered that as their most important winter sport. They wanted to practice it as much as possible and they valued outdoor sports. There was also a social aspect in practicing cross-country skiing at the first snow ski track as skiing there open a possibility for interaction with like-minded cross-country skiers. The results of this study can be used when improving current and designing new first snow ski tracks. It seems that the most enthusiastic cross-country skiers are willing to pay for the opportunity to ski. Therefore, first snow ski tracks can offer a solution for prolonging the cross-country skiing season. ...
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