Sochi Snow Crisis to Be Snow Surplus, Organizer Says
The man in charge of making sure there's enough snow at the Sochi Olympics for Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, and the rest of Team USA's skiers, not to mention their international competition, says there's nothing to worry about.
There's "absolutely no risk of lack of snow," Mikko Martikainen told ABC News by email.
In fact, he predicted that there will be "too much snow."
Martikainen, whose company Snow Secure drafted the Sochi Olympics' master plan for snow production, explained that weather patterns are lined up to generate lots of natural snow over the coming weeks.
His forecast tracks with what Russia's chief meteorologist said on Friday. Roman Vilfand said they already have about 20 inches of snow in some areas, more than usual, and enough that a base layer will remain even if January is warm.
That hopefully means no bare patches on the slopes by the time the games begin on Feb. 7. Organizers want to avoid a repeat of the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. There they had to airlift snow at the last minute to cover the ski courses.
But officials haven't always been so confident. Last February some skiing events were canceled for lack of snow.
The mountains where the Olympic skiing events will take place is just an hour away from Sochi, a sub-tropical town best known as a beach resort. The mountain area is significantly cooler, but organizers didn't take any chances. They brought in Martikainen who deployed an innovative plan to store snow over the summer.
Massive piles of snow were created at the end of last year's ski season and stored under insulated blankets, with the hope that enough would survive the summer.
When ABC News visited the piles in early November, the snow was still there. At the time Martikainen said enough was left to act as a backup in case the massive snowmaking machines failed.
But now he says those piles may not even be necessary. Those reserves will act as "insurance," but Martikainen now thinks Mother Nature, and if needed his snowmaking machines, will be able to handle the job.