So far, every season has been the same. Any winter sports fan has always asked the same two questions during October: When will the first snow fall? Will the first competitions be in danger? In recent years, a third, more troubling and far-reaching question has been added to these two questions: Can climate change put an end to winter sports?
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The high temperatures recorded in 2022 are causing absolutely unusual and worrying situations. A striking example is that of Dachstein Gletscher. The Austrian glacier cannot be opened in summer or fall, and most worryingly, it won’t open in winter either. The heat has destroyed the ice that served as the base of the slope structure and the ski lifts are now unusable due to the great distance they are now from the ground.
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Many athletes had to change their preparation due to the lack of snow on European glaciers, which are their usual places of focus in the summer. “You go into glaciers and there is a little bit of ice and snow, and the change from year to year is very noticeable” Queralt Castellet tells us. The Olympic medal winner, whose campaign will move its center of operations to the United States, has been doing pre-season in New Zealand taking advantage of the border opening after several winters sealed by the pandemic.
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“Until the glaciers closed, it seemed like nothing happened, and they held up, but we’ve been noticing that for many years” Lucas Ejebar regrets. The Snowboardcross world champion struggled with the effects of climate change over the summer, and also in a very visible way this past weekend. The lack of snow on the French glacier Les de Alpes made it necessary to reschedule the event that opened the World Cup season in its specialty.
In alpine skiing, several tests planned in Zermatt-Cervinia were also canceled due to a lack of snow. Yes, the traditional Soelden date can be disputed, although there was a disturbing sight as the rocks surrounding the cliffs were alarmingly bare and snow-free.
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“It’s hard because we’ve seen how all the glaciers have closed up and it’s hard, it’s not fun for us”, Coim Salarich confirms. The great reference for alpine skiing had to make many changes in setup compared to other seasons“We had three periods indoors, four days at Glacier and then we were able to train in Argentina because it’s winter there.”
Training on slopes covered with artificial snow has become a new working tool for these athletes. “We have been in these months from indoor to indoor, and they have saved us summer, especially summer in Madrid.”Ejebar confirms. For Quim Salarich, training in this type of scenario has its pros and cons. “Doing short intervals is very effective, because you ensure that you have incredible icy conditions and can get back to the basics of technique and rhythm.” But this new form of preparation also has a less friendly face. “Spending four hours non-stop indoors is really hard on your muscles, and you can’t do more than three days because its 25-30 second trajectories get so monotonous and eventually you get bored.” A camel skater in you.
It is clear that the changes that occur on the planet due to climate change are especially pronounced with snowfall. For Queralt Castellet “We all have to work on that and realize that it’s a worrying situation.” “We are a sport that depends on cold and snow, and we are very concerned”Kim Salaris confesses. “Hopefully there will be a drastic change in temperature, that this will be a transitional year in that sense, and next year the cold and snow will soon return.”Skater Camel. For Lucas Ejebar “Every year we will have to adapt to the conditions and we will end up doing pre-season in South America or at home … or in Dubai.”
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