Attention all skiers! The slippery slopes may not be so slippery in the near future

Since the mid 1800s, skiing has provided a fun recreational activity, and later, a competitive sport, for many snow-lovers around the globe. The idea of skiing dates back to around 2,000 years ago, and has moved from a survival technique to a source of entertainment; the first international race took place in Oslo in the 1860s, and the sport was permanently introduced into the Olympic Winter Games in 1924.

The sport has created tons of revenue since its popularity spiked in the 1950s. A study from 2017 suggests the income per year in the USA for skiing is 4,443,835,569- that’s a ton of people who benefit off of the recreational sport each year, and a ton of people who could potentially be affected by the increasing climate change issue the sport faces in the near future.

Ingrid Backstrom, one of the world’s top backcountry skiers (aka uphill skiing, popular among endurance athletes), hikes on skis to reach the world’s fiercest snow in the Andes, Antarctica and Himalayas. For backcountry skiiers like Backstrom, the snow is getting harder to find, as the ski season shrunk an average of 34 days between 1982 and 2016.

I mean, it’s a real concern that we might not be able to ski, definitely not in the same way and in the same places in a very not-too-distant time in the future.

Ingrid Backstrom, nationally ranked skier

Skiers aren’t the only group affected by climate change, though. Along with skiers and snowboarders, Xubin Zeng, director of the Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study, suggests other habitats that rely on the snow will be affected.

“My best estimate is it will be at least double what we’ve already lost” by 2050. “This trend will continue to affect not only skiing, but farming, fishing and wild ecosystems that rely on regular snow cover.”

Xubin Zeng,

Along with many ski resorts in the USA having resorted to relying almost entirely on artificial snow this season, according to the New York Times, China and the International Olympic Committee prepared to do the same for the Olympic Games this year. The Beijing Games will go down in history, as it will be the first Winter Olympics to use 100 percent artificial snow. The host cities Beijing and Zhangjiakou will deploy more than 100 snow generators and 300 snow-making guns, which could hold 49 million gallons of water, used to blanket the slopes, CNN suggests.

Not everyone agrees with the overuse of artificial snow, though. Many invested skiers contemplate the effect the warming will have on the future of the sport, and some prefer to embrace the natural method.

“Powder is one of the natural wonders of the world,” Ms. Backstrom said. “It’s just a pure miracle of nature, and you can’t replicate that in any way, shape or form.”

Ingrid Backstrom, backcountry skier

These skiers won’t give up, though- no matter how hard it might be in the future to find the white blankets.

“We’re probably going to have to walk for a while in the dirt and our shoes [to find snow], and then strap on skis and skins. But we’re always going to ski, even if it means we have to walk in the mud.”

Tristain Droppert, head of Black Crows- a ski manufacturer

Works Cited

eos.org: How the Ski Industry Stopped Working and Learned to Love Climate Activism

nytimes.com: Here’s How Climate Change and Covid are Transforming Skiing

https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20101221-travelwise-where-did-skiing-come-from

nytimes.com: After Warm Start to Snow Season, Colorado Resorts Look for Relief

https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/26/sport/climate-winter-olympics-snow-intl/index.html

nytimes.com: On the Slopes With a Pro Skier

One thought on “Attention all skiers! The slippery slopes may not be so slippery in the near future

  1. WOW, you don’t think of one of natures most normal occurrence being in short supply! Or is it man’s over reliance on it for sport and income that creates the problem?

    Like

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