Emergency Snow Reserves Remain Untapped as Sochi Temps Soar

Feb 12, 2014 10:19am

Olympic organizers say they have not yet used an emergency reserve of snow despite complaints about the condition of some ski courses as temperatures in the mountains neared 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We haven’t used snow since start of the Games. We’ve used some during the preparations,” Dmitry Chernyshenko told ABC News via Twitter today. He clarified that some of the stored snow had been used to create the base layers, but none had been deployed since the Olympics began Friday.

Oleg Kitov, the deputy manager of the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, where freestyle skiing and snowboarding events take place, called the snow situation “difficult” but said there was no need for the reserve snow yet, according to the official Olympic News Service.

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In this April 5, 2013, file photo, insulated blankets shimmer in the sun as workers are covering the snow pile in order to preserve it for the next winter outside Krasnaya Polyana, near Sochi. (Nataliya Vasilyeva/AP Photo) 

“There is no plan to bring in more snow, but we will see what happens,” Kitov said, according to the official report. He said they have resorted to using dry ice on some courses and water and salt on others.

Athletes have been complaining about poor snow conditions in recent days. On Tuesday, a training run for the women’s downhill course had to be canceled due to warm weather and soft snow.

Sochi sits at a subtropical latitude and temperatures along the coast are rarely below freezing. It is usually much colder at the higher elevations in the mountainous area where the skiing events are taking place, but many feared exactly this scenario after warm weather last February canceled some skiing competitions.

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In this Sept. 25, 2013, file photo, insulated blankets cover a snow storage unit in the Rosa Khutor Alpine center in the mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana outside Sochi. (Sergei Grits/AP Photo)

As a safeguard for the Olympics, organizers stored massive piles of snow at the end of last year under insulated blankets, hoping enough would last until the Olympic Games. When ABC News visited Sochi in early November, much of that snow remained. Organizers then used an unusually cold December to build up even more reserves using powerful snow-making machines. They claimed to have amassed roughly 25 million cubic feet of snow.

Mikko Martikainen, a Finnish contractor hired to develop Sochi’s snow plan, predicted this week’s warm weather, but told ABC News last week that “we are ready.”

Organizers have been worried about a repeat of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, when warm weather meant snow had to be airlifted in at the last minute.

 

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The lower slopes appear devoid of snow as brown, dirty snow is piled up on the road to the finish area of the alpine ski venue at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana. (Christophe Ena/AP Photo)

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