Turns out you don’t need snow in order to host the Winter Olympics.
The 2022 Olympics are the first Games in history to rely solely on artificial snow. While there is snow located in the areas where some of the events are held, it is not reliable enough for snow to be available for the entirety of the games.
According to a report coauthored by Georgia State University, the host committee for these Games estimated they would need to use 49 million gallons of water, 130 fan-operated snow generators and 300 snow-making guns to create 1.2 million cubic meters of fake snow.
How will these effect the events and the athletes? Well it might not necessarily be a positive.
Jessie Diggins, an Olympic cross-country skier, discussed the differences in competing on artificial snow rather than real snow on one of the My New Favorite Olympian episodes.
“Real snow is so much softer, right? So, if you fall, you have snowbanks on the side of the course, you’re not sliding off into rocks and trees and mud where you could actually get very hurt,” Diggins explained.“Now that we’re moving to a much more manmade snow, the course is getting faster and icier and is actually a little bit dangerous for us because if you start sliding, you’re going to keep sliding on ice. And so we have seen, I think, more injuries because of this.”
Artificial snow has been a part of the Olympics for quite some time now. Back in 1964 at the Innsbruck Olympics in Austria, Austrian soldiers had to bring blocks of ice and snow to the site of the Olympic events and packed them in by hand. A dry spell had caused all of the snow to melt weeks before the Olympics.
Nearly two decades later, the same problem was arising again, but there was a much easier solution this time. Snow machines were first introduced on the Olympic stage in 1980 in Lake Placid. These devices, which had been created in the 1940s, would blow water into the air to freeze before falling onto the surface.
With the ever-growing concern of climate change, the artificial snow may become a bigger part of the Olympics moving forward.