Competitions at the Beijing Olympics are held exclusively on artificial snow.
Global warming poses a threat to winter sports, said American skier Gus Schumacher.
The Olympics in Beijing were in the spotlight because of the competition exclusively on artificial snow, Reuters notes.
The Olympic tracks in Zhangjiakou City, located about 200 km northwest of Beijing, where skiing, biathlon and most freestyle and snowboarding competitions are held, were lightly sprinkled with natural snow before the Games began. However, all competition surfaces are artificial.
Schumacher sees this as a threat to the sport, as less precipitation limits athletes in terms of where they can train and compete.
“I think climate change will have the biggest impact on our sport in the coming years. A lot of things are changing in skiing, but this is what will make it impossible,” said the 21-year-old athlete from Alaska.
While many snowboarders and freestyle skiers are delighted with the “tenacious” snow, which gives them more control when descending the hill, skiers and biathletes have encountered difficulties on dry snow at subzero temperatures.
“I am glad that I am not participating in long–distance races, because I think it will be difficult,” British sprinter James Klagnet told Reuters. –If you get tired, you’ll suddenly go much slower.”
Earlier, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected criticism over the decision to use artificial snow in Beijing.
“Artificial snow has been consistently used for decades in sports. It is also very widely used for mass winter sports. We know this, we are engaged in winter sports ourselves,” commented Marie Sallois, IOC Director for Corporate and Sustainable Development.
“The Winter Olympic Games are no exception,” she added. –What’s really important is to try to organize the competition in the most efficient way, and I think Beijing 2022 is trying to achieve that.”
Gus Schumacher expressed the opinion that the use of artificial snow has affected both sports and the environment.
“For example, in Norway, where there is still snow everywhere, you can warm up wherever you want–” he explained. – But on sites with artificial snow, you are limited to a racing loop, and they always sprinkle salt on it to protect the coating. So you can’t ride as much as you want, and it’s harder for you to do what you need to do to race and train well.”
According to the skier, climate change may threaten the future of winter sports. “It’s already changing the situation – less safety at the races, fewer warm-up tracks, fewer places to ski and, consequently, fewer people who are interested in it.”