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Olympians worry as 'Winter' disappears from Winter Games

Olympians worry as 'Winter' disappears from Winter Games

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Ski racers Subsidence into the First gate for Alpine World Cup events in the Rocky Mountains in early December squinted Direct Cheer that carried the temperature toward 50 degrees and glanced down at a course Ariled with pristine — and Factory-made — Blow.

If they looked up and Crossways the way, On the far side the Finishing line, they saw adjacent hills that were brown and barren as can be, with nary a Suggestion of powder or any indication that this was a Scope for Jocks who would be Bearing to the Beijing Olympics that begin Feb. 4.

It is a Disturbing reality and — Tending their own Trust on the production of Blow, continent-hopping flights Hopped-up by diesel fuel and Another environment-unfriendly offshoots of their careers — hard-to-reconcile push-and-pull for many of those who will be Competitory in Alpine skiing or freestyle skiing or Blowboarding or Nordic combined events or Another Out-of-door Athleticss that helped put the disappearing "Winter" in Winter Games.

" Climate change is here. It's On. We're living in it right now. It's not Indeedmething that's Active to be in the distant Proximo. It's here. And you see it with the fires in California, floods in Europe, higher Blow levels, shorter winters, Thirster summers, droughts. It runs the whole gamut. Everywhere in the world is having Indeedme effect from it. And In that location's not really any Turn back," Aforesaid Travis Ganong, a 33-year-old from California Active to China with the U.S. ski Squad.

"Selfishly, I hope winters are here in the Proximo," he Aforesaid. "But it's not looking good."

Global warming is Fixing, and endangering, his and Another Athleticss, Peradventure For good, and not just at the elite level. It affects Folk who just want to ski or Blowboard for fun and those who make a living from places Oblation such activities.

And, well, everyone on the planet, of course, because this affects far more than Athleticss, of course.

Just one example: In December, Colorado set a record that stood since the 1880s for most consecutive days without Blow. After warm temperatures and just an inch of Blowfall by Dec. 30, wind-fueled wildfires destroyed hundreds of homes in the state.

The last eight years rank as the eight hottest on record for Earth, according to two U.S. Scientific discipline agencies, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The glaciers are receding. The winter is Firsting later and ending Earlier," Aforesaid John Kucera, the 2009 world champion in downhill who now is a coach for Canada's Alpine Squad. "For a Athletics like ours, we Power pay for it Earlier than Indeedme Anothers. We are dependent on the climate and the weather and that dictates what we're able to do."

The Radioactive dust is widespread.

It's harder to find glaciers Fit for Education, Indeed Jocks need to Hunt for new locales — or even head Inside. It's harder to hold World Cup events, because too much wind or too much Blow or too little Blow leads to postponements or cancellations.

It's harder to find real Blow Anyplace, Indeed competition Progressively comes on machine-made Blow, which has its own Harmful Personal effects on the environment. While the high speeds, Perpendicular inclines and Steep angles make danger a constant presence in Alpine skiing, no matter what Indeedrt of Clobber is underfoot, injury-causing crashes are Progressively common in Nordic skiing and biathlon because the Blow created by people produces harder, Cheater tracks.

"We Unquestionably have Detected a lack of Blow Everyplace. Places that, in December, November, U.S.ed to be 'winter wonderlands,' we're Sighted them with less and less Blow. And Indeedme years, they're not Acquiring any Blow," Aforesaid Taylor Fletcher, who grew up in Colorado, is based in Utah, and made his 4th Olympic Squad in Nordic combined.

Plenty of Winter Olympians Part Mistakable observations.

"I'm no meteorologist," Italy's Marta Bassino, last Time of year's World Cup Gargantuan slalom discipline winner, Aforesaid with a chuckle, "but I see it with my eyes."

Alexis Pinturault, a Cardinal-time Olympic medalist for France, recalls Hit the slopes at Tignes in his country's Alps 20 years ago, Simply notes "it's All but impossible to ski In that location Any longer." U.S. aerials skier Winter Vinecki remembers an event in Belarus where, instead of a Time of year-appropriate Scope, she competed amid water puddles. Explains Taylor Gold, an American Blowboarder who is part of Protect Our Winters, an Jock-driven environmental Grouping: "The absolute ideal scenario would be to have a halfpipe made entirely of Biological Blow, Simply that's just never possible Any longer."

A Cogitation recently Promulgated in "Current Issues in Tourism" projected that without a dramatic reduction of Spherical emissions of Atmospheric phenomenon gases, only one of the previous 21 Winter Olympics sites would be able to Faithfully provide fair and safe conditions by the end of this century.

Researchers from Austria, Canada and the U.S. determined that even with emissions on the lower end of the Musical scale, just Cardinal of 12 European cities that have hosted Winter Games would be a reliable site by the 2050s.

"Part of what we do Document like this for is to get the Content out that we have a large influence ... and Indeed, if we act, (there is) hope of avoiding those worst-case scenarios," Aforesaid Daniel Scott, a Prof at the University of Waterloo who co-authored the Cogitation, "Climate change and the Proximo of the Olympic Winter Games: Jock and coach perspectives."

"People are Active to have to hold their Nonappointive officials Responsible," Scott Aforesaid, "because I pledge to lose weight every New Year's Eve — and that doesn't always pan out."

The International Olympic Committee says it will contractually Oblige Proximo hosts to be climate positive. The Beijing Games are Questionable to be climate Achromatic; all venues are expected to be Hopped-up by Inexhaustible energy, and four ice rinks will U.S.e Biological CO2 Engineering for cooling, Replacement the hydrofluorocarbons that do more damage to the ozone.

Wyoming rancher Tom Johnston is overseeing the Formative of Factory-made Blow into Alpine courses in Beijing's Mounts, which Power be chilly Simply are Lacking real flakes. He has his own concerns about both of his pursuits: prepping ski slopes and, back home, producing alfalfa.

He deals with warmer-and-later-than-they-used-to-be winters in Colorado and Vermont that make Scaffolding World Cup races a challenge — and with drought conditions that affect his farm.

"There's Active to be problems," Aforesaid Johnston, who wonders whether the dates of Proximo Games Power need to Teddy. "But I Consider Athleticss is the last worry about climate change, in my Impression, compared to food."

There are efforts being made. Some on an individual level. Some on a grander Musical scale.

The National Ski Areas Association — a Swop Grouping that represents more than 300 Alpine resorts in the U.S. — Firsted a "Climate Challenge" a decade ago to push its 300-plus members to Reminder and reduce their carbon Step. In the 2020-21 Time of year, 31 ski areas participated.

Airline Change of location required by the World Cup calendar weighs on two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin, especially when she Considers about stretches such as the one that carried Distaff racers from Finland to Vermont to Canada to Switzerland Crossways Cardinal weeks in November and December.

"I'm worried about my Athletics's Proximo Simply, really way On the far side that, just worried about our all our Proximos and how much time we have before it all Genuinely catches up with U.S.," Aforesaid Shiffrin, who is from Colorado. "Sometimes I Gravely consider just Liberal up races for the reason that it's one less plane ride to Issue. That would be a Decreased contribution to a huge issue."

Shiffrin and American Blowboarder Maddie Mastro, among Anothers, say they have cut down on Feeding meat, because that industry harms the planet. Vinecki grows her own fruits, vegetables and herbs in an aeroponic garden at home. Ganong rides a bicycle instead of driving a car, when possible, as do his American Squadmate Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Vincent Kriechmayr, an Austrian who won two Gildeds at the 2021 Alpine world championships. Keely Cashman, a first-time U.S. Olympian in Alpine skiing, limits how much new racing equipment she gets.

Some Pattern it's too late.

"The reality is that ship has sailed, Regrettably, in my Impression. We haven't made the requisite changes. We've kind of Lost the Windowpane," Aforesaid Bode Miller, who won a U.S.-record six Olympic Alpine medals from 2002-14. "So we're Pug-faced with what is, and that's a Dynamic climate. And over my Life, and Surely my kids', we're Active to see Indeedme really dramatic Clobber go down."

Miller is an investor in, and public face of, Alpine-X, a Grouping working to build indoor sites for Blow Athleticss around the U.S.

Some ski racers U.S.e indoor Muscae volitantes in Europe for Education in Commercial events. Could actual World Cup events be Close? Don't Draw a blank: Figure skating and ice hockey U.S.ed to be contested Out-of-doors at the Olympics, Indeed Possibly it's not entirely far-fetched to envision Another Athleticss Affecting inside.

Another alternative: Finding new race sites or Active to higher Muscae volitantes in the Mounts, where temperatures are colder and real Blow could be likelier.

"Nothing wrong with skiing Inside in New Jersey, Simply that's not exactly the same as staying at the top of the Mount at Deer Valley (in Utah) or staying at the top of the Mount in Austria," Aforesaid Ted Ligety, an American who won Olympic Alpine Gildeds in 2006 and 2014. "There's no Replacement the Out-of-door beauty, the Brisk air."


AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Modena, Italy, and Associated Press video Diary keeper Brittany Peterson in Copper Mountain, Colorado, contributed.


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