By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
---- — MILFORD — As athletes from all over the world compete for Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia, many will do so thanks to a Milford company.
Alpine skiing events will be held at the Rosa Khutor Mountain Ski Center located on the Aibga Ridge.
And all of the snow on the courses was made with a snowmaking design and pumping system from Torrent Engineering & Equipment in Milford.
“We help push water over mountains,” said Joe Cousins, president of Torrent. “It’s real snow, there’s nothing artificial about it."
Cousins and his partner, Mark Meadows, PE, started in 2008 to design the piping systems and pumping stations for the Rosa Khutor snowmaking system in Sochi and the project was completed after a three-year process.
“We made the pump stations here, loaded them in containers and sent it over to Sochi where crews unloaded and installed the system,” Cousins said. “You have to have cold temperatures of 28 degrees or below to make snow and pump high pressure water to a snow gun. We don’t build snow guns, but the snow guns atomizes the water by shooting it through nozzles and creating snowflakes when it hits the cold air. Artificial snow is more resistant to melting.”
Snowmaking begins with a water supply such as a river or reservoir. Cousins said they look at the acreage to calculate the amount of snow needed for the foot-base and convert it into gallons. They need to determine how fast to get the snow down because there might be a short weather window of opportunity for traditional weather patterns.
“It’s fun to be involved (with the Olympics). We’re a specialty business,” Cousins said. “It’s huge. It took millions and millions of dollars. They didn’t spare any expense on the snowmaking and we’ve been in on the design and engineering since its conception.”
And having a part of the 17-day winter Olympics has been rewarding for the partners.
“It’s been successful. Sochi was another project for us,” Cousins said. “We’ve moved on. It was over for us about three weeks ago.”
He says the company’s contract was up and “thought we’d be done in Russia” but there has been an interest for using their agricultural water pumping systems in the country and they are working on contracts with potential clients.
The company has installed systems for customers in Canada, New Zealand, China, Australia and South America as well as many ski resorts and areas in the United States.
The Rosa Khutor snowmaking system has been the company’s biggest project in its 13-years of existence, Meadows added.
“We have 12 direct employees and about 50 sub-contractors,” he said. “Engineering integration is taking an idea and making it real.”