Association Flainoise

2011-02-15- Meeting with Pascal Tournier, 15 February 2011

Wednesday 9 March 2011 by Pierre Tocqueville, Regis Lardennois

Translation thanks to Michael Dickinson

Agenda Items: DSF Projects and the situation in 2011


  • Pascal TOURNIER, Director General of DSF and DSG
  • Pierre TOCQUEVILLE, Chairman of the Association Flainoise
  • Régis LARDENNOIS, Treasurer and WebMaster of the Association Flainoise

Commercial situation

DSF has allowed for the present climatic situation, and skiers are coming to Flaine from surrounding ski areas to find snow. The work of snowmaking has helped to maintain the number of runs to a maximum.

It has been more difficult for DSG which has seen a reduction in its activities, but Pascal Tournier welcomed the efforts at snowmaking made in Samoëns which has saved the ski season there. The situation is roughly the same in Morillon.

The representatives of the Association Flainoise expressed their appreciation of the work carried out by DSF in maintaining the slopes, and retaining a high quality in skiing on a significant part of the ski area. Pascal Tournier hopes that there will be at least a further 10 to 15 cm of snow in the near future, which would open other pistes for a few days, even if it is not always enough to allow the use of Piste Grooming Machines

The impact of weather conditions on DSF’s projects

The present weather conditions will cause DFS to extend snowmaking to the lower parts of the Faust, Almandine and Olivine pistes.

In addition, the flow of skiers has changed, with an increased usage of the three chairlifts , the Coil de Platé, the Perdrix and the Diamant Noir, exceeding the capacity of a single new lift. Hence there has been a revision of the current proposal submitted to the Municipal Council of Araches on December 15, 2010, taking account of the flow of skiers and the opportunities for linking; this has led to the new proposal introduced on February 9, 2011. The proposed Desert Blanc chairlift is a 6-seater with a capacity of 3200 passengers per hour. The track goes from the lower station of the Perdrix chair to the top station of the Col de Platé. This give direct access to the slopes of the northern area (Belzebuth, Serpentine &c.) and it is intended to have a link to of the top station of the Diamant Noir chair.

The building permit application was filed shortly after the presentation.

Studies on the upgrading of the Diamant Noir Chairlift are in train.
The expansion of the snowmaking facilities has led to an increasing need for water, and DSF hopes to establish a reservoir on the hill in 2012, having a planning application ready for filing in the spring of 2011.

Consideration of other matters also raises other priorities:

  • extending the area of the Aujon on the northern slope, taking priority over the proposed chairlift replacing the Ballacha tows,
  • a reorganization of the area around the Ballacha tows to separate the flows of skiers and adjust the return pistes.

DSF therefore plans to dismantle the Ballacha Draglifts, reprofiling the piste to improve the usefulness of the slopes (installing snowmaking and removing stones to allow skiing on a thin layer of snow). The Petit Ballacha tow will remain as it is essential to serve the beginners’ area. Installation of a new lift will come later, after observing the flow of skiers.

The refurbishment of Front de Neige with the replacement the Pre chairlift with two moving walkways is still expected in 2012.

Safety on the pistes

We questioned Mr Tournier on the possibility of staff with police powers booking skiers going too fast on the ski slopes.

The DSF officials have powers to control lift tickets. Moreover, legal sanctions must be based on a statement of offense (speeding, dangerous behavior) the criteria of which are difficult to assess.

For the DSF, the solution lies in the separation of flows and in prevention (eg by way of advice to the skier). To do this it is necessary to isolate the beginners’ area, so the reorganization of the Ballacha area is a priority to conserve space for beginners.

Budgetary factors

The rational investment capacity of DSF is in the order € 3 million per year (20% to its turnover of € 15 million). Exceeding this figure would challenge the financial equilibrium of the company in the medium term. Current investment is in excess of this figure, which is made possible in part by the sale of land by SAG.

Some significant figures:

  • the Desert Blanc Chairlift will cost in the order of € 6 Mio;
  • the cost of the Hill reservoir will be in the order of € 1.5 Mio;
  • a fixed-speed chairlift (such as the present Col de Plate) cost about € 3 Mio, a bit less for the Foret chair which is very short (€ 2 Mio).

Currently planned construction will improve things but will not significantly change the scale of the turnover and therefore the investment capacity.

So there are hard choices to be made and some projects must be spread over time. Hence the postponement of the Ballacha and the Foret chairlifts amongst other projects.

Other projects

The Belhambra project (a tourist residence on the present site of the snow grooming machine park) requires the establishment of a different location for these. The P0 Car Park had been considered, but this highlights the problems of lack of snow at the bottom of the valley, and the noise created by machines passing all night. Other locations are being considered, which might also be at higher altitude.

DSF Administration Building

At the moment, and only for a further year, this administrative activity is located at the Residence de la Forêt (Pierre et Vacances). It will be moved for a period of 3 years to temporary offices in Samoens-Vercland; a base near the focus of DSF activity is necessary.

Association Flainoise Comment

We would like to thank Pascal Tournier for the time he gave us, and for the extensive information he provided.

The medium-term approach appears to us to be very coherent; the weather in the winter of 2010-11 has led to a new approach to the Flaine skiing area better to adapt the resort to the climatic changes that are discernible.

The Forêt Chairlift remains an important goal for the Association:

  • for beginners;
  • to allow the return to home on skis;

bearing in mind the continued development of the Montsoleil, Hameau, and Refuge du Golf sectors.

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