Over the Christmas holidays, our German Account & Operations Manager, Anna left our little island for some quality time at home in Germany and also for some much-needed micro-adventures in The Alps. As she loves snowboarding, climbing and generally being outdoors, especially in the winter, for her the mountains were calling. But this year, things were a little different… it was a very long journey to find some snow.
It’s the 26th of December and I’m sitting on a balcony somewhere in Austria. The sun is shining on my face. Probably, it’s about 6 degrees Celsius, unseasonably warm for this time of the year. I’ve just returned from a little cross-country session. Most will think I’m off skating in a winter wonderland but they’d be very wrong. No winter wonderland here… Instead, a 3km fake snow slope and weather that looks far too much like spring not least, because of the blue sky and the bright sunshine.
Many of us know, it’s not the first winter without snow in The Alpine valleys. At the moment though, the higher skiing areas are also suffering from a massive lack of snow. In some glaciers skiing areas such as Stubai Tal and Sölden, nearly all the slopes are open and lifts in operation (because it’s cold enough to produce snow with machines) but if you have a look on the top of the mountains and down into the valleys there is barely any snow at all.
Lower regions, e.g. areas in the German Black Forrest are not even able to produce machine snow as it’s just to warm. The lift operators in these areas already made large financial losses this winter. In The Alps, there are some other solution make money… They just reopen the bike parks, e. g. Les Gets Bike Park in the French Alps.
What the lack of snow this winter means for the winter sports industry is not fully foreseeable yet. That said, we all can assume that it’s not going to be good for the market in general.
Without snow, it’s not just the winter sports brands and operators that suffer; the professional winter sports associations suffer as well. The International Ski Federation (FIS) recently cancelled the Nordic Combined World Cup in the German town of Klingenthal due to lack of snow and that’s just one example of many.
In the news, there are lots of discussions about climate change. In a famous German newspaper, I read an interesting article about doing winter sports in times of the climate change. With the lifestyles that we all currently lead, can we go skiing and snowboarding with a clear conscience? I guess there are lots of different opinions on this topic…
I think, as we all love being outdoors and doing our various sports, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter, we should all think about what we can do in our daily life to safe our environment. Taking public transports, car-sharing, cycling – not just on our daily commutes but also if we want to go to the mountains (if you don’t have friends to share a car with you, have a look at www.go-shred.com). Lets stop buying plastic bottles and plastic bags.
These may be first (little) steps we take but I have no doubt that they will not be the last steps that we will all need to take if we are to move in the right direction.