NO POW

Climate change is depriving skiers of snow in the Alps—and causing more injuries

Obsession
Business of Sport
Obsession
Business of Sport

As any skier will tell you, skiing on artificial snow is not ideal. Skiing on no snow is even less fun. But with global temperatures rising, vacationers in the Alps hoping for fluffy powder and smooth slopes are instead navigating watery slush, concrete-hard fake snow, grassy patches, and the cringe-inducing sound of rocks under your skis.

With 2015 making history as the warmest year on record, December is proving tough for European resorts, the worst in memory, as Bloomberg reports. Resort operators and ski-town officials, especially in the lower Alps, are desperately trying to get more snow, by making it artificially or helicoptering it in from elsewhere. Some are keeping skiers off the slopes to prevent accidents. In Chamonix, France, instead of its world-famous skiing, tourists are instead ice skating, paragliding, or enjoying a local petting zoo. In the ski area of Trois Vallées, the mayor asked locals to keep off the slopes to save it for tourists.

For many European families, a ski vacation is a mainstay on the calendar, but with white winters becoming less and less frequent, as experts predict, skiers may have to get used to the rougher conditions.

With the quickly hardening snow from snow cannons—or no snow at all—injuries are bound to increase. Austrian officials say they are seeing an average of 330 accidents daily in the country, with broken legs as the most common injury, according to The Daily Mail. Earlier in December, a UK teenager died in the French resort of Meribel; police believe the poor snow conditions contributed to the accident.

epa05078793 The outline of a gondola carrying skiers en route to the halfway station located at an altitude of 1780 metres on Fellhorn mountain near Oberstdorf, Germany, 22 December 2015. Although there is currently no snow to be found in the lower-lying areas of the German state Bavaria, skiing and snowboarding are still possible on a limited number of slopes at higher altitudes of the Bavarian Alps.  EPA/KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND
Felhorn, Germany (EPA/KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND)
People ski on a ski slope in the western Austrian Ski Resort of Seefeld
Seefeld, Austria (REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler - RTX206PF)
People sit on sun chairs in the western Austrian Ski Resort of Seefeld
Seefeld, Austria (Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler)
Visitors ski on a piste made with artificial snow by a snow cannon during warm weather in the western German ski resort of Winterberg
Winterberg, Germany (Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)
Skiing resort in Switzerland
Villars-Gryon, Switzerland (EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)
Skiing resort in Switzerland
Villars-Gryon, Switzerland (EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)
Visitors move uphill along a piste made with artificial snow by a snow cannon during warm weather in the western German ski resort of Winterberg
Winterberg, Germany (Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)
Skiers ski down a patch of artificial snow in the ski resort of Mutters
Mutters, Austria (Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler)
People play on a small hill made of artificial snow by a snow cannon during warm weather in the western German ski resort of Winterberg
Winterberg, Germany (Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)
Skis stand on grass in the western Austrian Ski Resort of Seefeld
Seefeld, Austria (Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler)
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