25 February, 2022
A report looking into the future of the winter Olympic games suggested that just one of the previous twenty-one host cities would be reliably cold enough to hold the winter Olympics events by 2080. And although Beijing managed to pull the games off this year, at what cost? Nearly 222.8 million litres of water were used to create enough snow for the skiers, in an area that already faces water scarcity.
Winter sports must change. They are carbon intensive, and as the earth gets warmer, the industry’s impacts will get worse, unless it simply disappears forever and leave in its wake ghost towns resorts.
So it was great to read about the French resort Serre Chevalier rethinking its approach to managing its climate impacts. A ski resort uses a lot of energy and resources to operate lifts, feed holiday goers, groom slopes and produce artificial snow to ensure perfect conditions. Serre Chevalier therefore decided to produce its own electricity thanks to its 300+ days of sunshine a year and the installation of new wind turbines and solar panels. Additionally, new measures such as slowing the ski lifts by a minute or reducing the surface of slopes to be groomed reduced energy use by at least 20%. These tweaks made a huge difference in terms of carbon, but still maintained the satisfaction of its customers.
Better yet, we love the attitude of resort managers, who are happily providing the blueprint of this renewable ski station to any others who want to change… Perhaps future hosts of the winter Olympics? This gets to the heart of the climate fight: we are all in this together and if everyone works together, there is hope for the future of ski (or you know, the planet).
By Marie Guérinet