Now it doesn’t often happen that you can take part in skiing races or competitions on the snow in Italy in the middle of August, but for the past few years this has been possible in Livigno, right in the centre of the town.
This year too, on occasion of the Palio delle Contrade and 1K Shot events on the 23rd August, the streets of Little Tibet will turn white with a cross-country race on real snow stretching out over a kilometre.The now fundamental ‘taster’ of the winter ski season in the middle of summer will once again be made possible by snowfarming, an innovative method of preserving snow using sawdust and geothermal sheets that protect it from the high summer temperatures and stop it melting.
In 2016, Livigno enthusiastically embraced this technique, which reduces the use of artificial snow by saving some of the snow from the abundant falls at the end of the winter season. Palio delle Contrade is both one of the most deeply felt traditions of the inhabitants of Little Tibet and one of the most popular with tourists and visitors. Every year during the event, the people of Livigno compete in an exciting cross-country skiing competition wearing traditional clothes and using equipment from bygone times to defend the colours of the eight areas of the town: Centro, Comunìn, Pemónt, Fórcola, Ostarìa, Plàn da Sóra, Saròch, Teòla and Trepàl.
However, it's not just the people of Livigno who await the 23rd August with trepidation. They’re flanked by a large group of Italian and international cross-country skiing and biathlon champions, preparing to compete in this stunning setting that combines the traditions of the past with the most modern and contemporary techniques of the present. Indeed, the top level 1K Shot race is held just a few hours before Palio delle Contrade.
Some of the best national and international biathlon athletes will be taking part in this race to the last on narrow skis. These include Livigno’s ambassadors and world champions Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi, as well as other athletes from Team Livigno, including Thomas Bormolini, Saverio Zini, Rudy Zini and Paolo Rodigari.Besides a truly evocative and indeed thrilling moment for athletes and the public alike, the double event of Palio delle Contrade and 1K Shot is a real foretaste of the winter season, which will start as early as 19th October this year in Livigno when the bottom ring is opened.
Using the snow stored during the summer using the snowfarming technique, the cross-country skiing ring on the central plain will enable many professionals and amateurs to start training during a period of the year in which Nordic skiing can only be practiced on a very few glaciers. Recovery of natural snow will enable them to start preparing earlier whilst also taking advantage of the other facilities and services Little Tibet offers athletes, including the Aquagranda Active You! swimming-pool and gym and brand new athletics track recently inaugurated at the sports centre, one of the largest in Europe.
1K Shot is being held on 23rd August at 5.30pm, whilst the traditional Palio delle Contrade will start at 8.30pm. To make the day even more special, local artists will create a huge snow sculpture in the centre of the town. Last year, they made a massive snowman and who knows if this year, in light of the 2026 Winter Olympics - for which Livigno will host the snowboarding and freestyle races, as well as one of the Olympic villages - the theme of the sculpture will be the five rings?