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Besides some minor dustings, it hasn’t snowed significantly in the French resorts hosting the skiing world championships since mid-January.
And there is no snow in the long-term forecast.
Instead, the weather has been perfectly clear, sunny and, yes — cold. But a warm front was slated to move in over the posh towns of Courchevel and Meribel in early February, and temperatures were expected to soar well above freezing and start melting the perfectly shaped racing surfaces that organizers have prepared with mostly artificial snow.
Dealing with warm temperatures and a lack of snow has been a constant this season across the Alps for the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, known as FIS, with Mother Nature and global warming having just as much say about when and where to hold races as the sport’s governing body.
Warm weather and a lack of snow wiped out nearly a month of racing at the start of this season, preseason training on melting European glaciers is heading toward extinction and the impact of climate change on the schedule is being seen even in January.
“There’s a very real threat to what we know and love from winter,” American skiing standout Mikaela Shiffrin said. “We get really caught up in our world and the medals and wins and victories and records and everything. But what we hope is to be able to enjoy skiing and winter sports and winter recreation for many, many years to come. And that’s under threat right now.”
For nearly three decades, the FIS has started the World Cup season in late October with a weekend of racing atop the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria. The idea is not only to draw attention to the racing circuit but also to encourage spectators and consumers to start thinking about reserving their winter vacations and start buying skis, boots and other equipment.
The entire skiing industry in Europe relies on the race to boost sales.
This article was provided by The Associated Press.