Climate Change Threatens Future of Sports as the world’s focus turns towards the skiing world championships in French resorts, the industry is facing a major challenge – a lack of snow. Instead of snow, the weather has been sunny and cold, but temperatures are expected to rise next week, causing the perfectly shaped racing surfaces to start melting. This has been a constant issue this season across the Alps and is just one example of the impact of climate change on winter sports.
This year, nearly a month of racing was wiped out due to warm weather and a lack of snow. Pre-season training on melting European glaciers is becoming more difficult and climate change is affecting the race schedule even in January. The skiing industry in Europe relies heavily on races like the World Cup season to boost sales, but with the threat of climate change, this may become increasingly difficult.
The World Cup season, held by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS), usually starts in late October with a weekend of racing in Soelden, Austria. However, this year the women’s race had to be canceled due to warm and rainy weather, and the men’s race was only held after extensive repair work. The circuit was then supposed to move on to Zermatt-Cervinia, Switzerland, but both weekends of racing were wiped out due to a lack of snow.
Season after season, there have been problems with holding races due to a lack of snow. Snow-making capabilities have improved, enabling some races to be held on artificial snow, but skiers and coaches say that changes are needed in terms of scheduling and venue selection.
The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization released a case study showing that there is a “moderate to high risk” threat for winter sports within just 13 years for Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Italian resort hosting the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics. The study shows that the time-window for snow making and the duration of the skiing season is shrinking, making it increasingly difficult to hold races.
The head coach of the US ski team, Paul Kristofic, questioned the timing of the race schedule and why races are held in venues that are becoming warmer and more difficult. American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin expressed her concerns, saying “there’s a very real threat to what we know and love from winter.” The skiing industry and winter sports are facing a major challenge, and it’s important to consider the impact of climate change on these beloved activities.