Those of you who have already skied on a glacier will know what I’m talking about. Skiing is just better than anywhere else, whether it’s on powder or on regular ski slopes. The ice under the snow works like a refrigerator, which explains why snow crystals on glaciers are different from those on other terrains. Look into your freezer to see how the ice crystal structure looks like on the outside.
The role of glaciers in alpine skiing is very important. First of all, major ski resorts have formed around them; also, they allow us to ski during summer as well. Unfortunately, due to global warming, they are reducing in size year after year. People who depend on them, as a source of income or otherwise, try to save as much as can be saved, and state-of-the-art snow canons make snow whenever temperatures drop below zero.
Soelden is a good example of that situation. Back in 1993, when it hosted the season’s opening races, there were no snow canons in sight because there was no need for them. The glacier was in all its glory and there was already plenty of snow at the end of October. Fifteen years later, the snow is artificial and the glacier is more than ten meters thinner. Snow canons are everywhere. Every year, when I come to Soelden, I realize just how serious the effects of global warming are. When you see a once majestic glacier disappear a bit more every year, right before your eyes, it becomes obvious why environmentalists are sounding the alarm. Earth needs our help!
In the last weeks before the season opening, high-level skiers always prepare on European glaciers, such as Pitztal, Zermatt, Saas Fee and Moelltal. Each year, there are more injuries caused by stones on the slopes, that sometimes lead to open wounds. Skis are often damaged too, which is also a problem. The question is: how will skiers prepare for the season when glaciers will be history and summer training will no longer be an option?
The snow coverage is shrinking dramatically from year to year. Consequently, the Earth doesn’t reflect as much sunlight, the heat is absorbed and this produces climate change. From a skier’s point of view, this is not good news. We can expect to ski less in the next few years, and might not ski at all in a couple of decades. At least not in a conventional way. Perhaps large conditioned halls will open, or maybe we will ski on other surfaces…
If you remember on thing of this post, it must be that snow is important for all of us. Let’s join up and work together for Earth’s better-being. Lets recycle, drive eco-friendly vehicles, turn off unnecessary lights and appliances and, in general, rationalize our consumption of goods. We can bring these little changes in our lives, but big steps need to be taken by governments all over the world… It might already be too late.