This may be one of those odd years when one of the ski industry’s growing concerns – climate change – is merging with the Olympics. China has taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) for the way the Water Games (Feb. 4-20, 2022) are being handled and especially the Alpine ski locations.
If you don’t see the correlation between climate change and the Olympics then you should take this three-question pop quiz prepared by Brenda Ekwurzel, Director of Climate Science for the Union of Concerned Scientists located in Washington DC. You may be surprised at the answers.
The industry has been dancing around the climate change issue for years and may just now be entering Stage Five of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ notable Five Stages of Grief when it comes to the topic. It has been grappling with wide weather mood swings – not enough snow, too much snow – for quite a while. While snowmaking has saved the day for more than one resort (especially in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, it is an expensive operation and one that can have environmental consequences.
A recent article in the Washington Post noted that roughly 87% of ski resorts nationwide, most common in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast have come to rely on snowmaking. November began with “just near 3% snow cover — the third-lowest snow cover extent on record for the contiguous United States” according to the story.
The (annual product trade show) Snow Show’s opening Industry Breakfast featured a panel of Protect Our Winters (POW) athletes and ambassadors plus legislators from both Colorado and Utah. The topic was “Climate change is not a partisan issue; the key is finding common ground.”
The takeaway: “We are all grappling with climate change in our own ways, none more or less important than the rest. To move forward as an industry, we need to identify and nurture commonalities that help us build bridges to change.”
But, back to the Olympics. Did you know that the Alpine courses for the upcoming Games are built on a nature reserve? Still another related issue. And a recent BBC article is a real eye-opener when it comes to expectation for snow conditions at the Alpine courses.
Regardless, the U.S. contingent is as ready as it can possibly be, all things considered, and the Team has what is arguably the best female skier in the world. not to mention the snowboard lineup. That conversation is for another day.
The question is: will the exposure generated by high powered media coverage of the Winter Olympics on NBC shine a spotlight on the effects of climate change on the industry? And, don’t forget to take that quiz.