Ski parks cash in on Moscow's wealth
Just 50 kilometres north of Moscow, the hilly Dmitrovsky district has become a key destination for Moscow's skiers and snowboarders.
Sorochany ski resort invested $US 60 million in developing infrastructure and building slopes. The snow on most of the hills is artificial, at least for half of the season.
To rent skis and boots for a day, plus a ski pass, will cost more than $US 100. A chocolate bar in the canteen in Volen ski resort costs more than two dollars. The owners say they need a return on investment and this comes with the crowds lining up to use the facilities at weekends.
Analysts say that maintenance alone costs these parks about $US 250,000 per month, but in winter time revenues can reach four times this.
The business is underpinned by the growing popularity of skiing – its one of President Putin's favourite pastimes – and rising incomes. But there is one looming problem – winter is getting warmer every year, the snow making machines work only if it's not more than – 2. So the ski parks are absolutely dependent on the weather.
But despite climate change, the organisers are optimistic. They say the number of skiers is growing by 20% each year. And with the ten million plus inhabitants of Moscow just down the road they are expecting to continue cashing in on demand for some time yet.