Yes, There Will Be Fake Snow at the Beijing Winter Olympics

Yes, There Will Be Fake Snow at the Beijing Winter Olympics
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The Beijing Winter Olympics is fast approaching. And while the event has certainly made headlines for a handful of important reasons, one of the more surprising elements capturing the attention of many is the topic of snow production.

Beijing’s Winter Olympic venues have been relying on manufactured snow in order to keep courses adequately coated in the white stuff, and it’s a trend that has been seen in a number of winter destinations in recent years.

The Beijing Winter Olympics and climate change

According to reports from NASA, 2021 tied in 6th place for the hottest year on record and it is estimated 2022 will follow similarly.

Naturally, the warmer temperatures make it more difficult for cooler destinations, like Beijing’s Winter Olympic locations, to produce as much snow as they may have in previous years.

This is not a particularly new issue, either. As our pals at Business Insider have reported, in recent years, ski resorts have had to turn to artificial snow in order to maintain business throughout the entirety of the winter sports season. Without producing extra snow, these locations risk a reduced ski season and loss of profit.

Similarly, Winter sports athletes have been battling the loss of substantial winters, with the result causing understandable anxieties around their ability to perform.

Taylor Fletcher, an American nordic combined skier spoke with Nine about the situation relating to the Beijing Winter Olympics, sharing that:

“We definitely have noticed a lack of snow everywhere. Places that in December, November, used to be ‘winter wonderlands,’ we’re seeing them with less and less snow. And some years, they’re not getting any snow.”

According to Forbes, the snowboarding course at the Beijing Winter Olympics – located at Secret Garden in Zhangjiakou – will be coated exclusively with artificial snow for this years’ competitions. The BBC has reported the same of the ski centre in Yanqing.

How does one make artificial snow?

So if the Beijing Winter Olympics is low on snow, how do you make more? Well, across the board, artificial snow is made using water, air and cool temperatures.

Artificial snow machines take water and pressurised air and push the product out into cold air, creating fine particles of snow. Here’s a video from a snow resort in Canada showcasing how artificial snow, similar to what would be used at the Beijing Winter Olympics, is made.

In response to criticisms of water and energy use in snow production, the Beijing Winter Olympics has reportedly stated that water being used accounts for less than 2% of the local supply and that artificial snow production machines use 20 per cent less energy than those used in earlier games, the BBC has shared.

Beijing Winter Olympic athletes and preparation

Does artificial snow have an impact on athlete performance at a competition like the Beijing Winter Olympics? Well, kind of.

Danielle Scott, an aerial skier representing Australia at the Beijing Winter Olympics, explained to the Sydney Morning Herald recently that using artificial snow does change things somewhat and that athletes will need to prepare before hitting the courses.

“The snow is pretty harsh because it is man-made, so you have to make sure there is a good layer of wax on your skis or it can actually eat into your ski base,” she told the outlet.

“I think if you’re prepared it will be fine but maybe it will be a good thing because there won’t be any fresh snowfall, which does affect our performance.”

If you’d like to keep reading about the Winter Olympics, here’s your guide to watching the events from Australia and who is competing this year.

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