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Slippery slopes for European ski resorts

By Gilina Voon Feb. 15, 2023

Up on the mountains 11,000 feet high in Europe, skiers can see the outstretches of the glistening snow-capped Alps as they take in the breathtaking view and the crisp cold air that fills the landscape.


That was until 2020, when many European ski resorts closed due to COVID-19; unfortunately, the pandemic would not be the only factor to hurt the ski industry. This winter’s rising temperatures gave a glimpse of what would come in the future with climate change.

According to The Washington Post, the French ski resort in the Les Gets commune experienced highs of 59 degrees Fahrenheit this winter, nearly 35 degrees higher than usual.

Climate change has taken a toll on ski resorts, especially those at lower altitudes, as resorts situated below 1,700 meters rarely receive snow. As a result, many lower-elevated resorts closed down, winter competitions were canceled and tourism dropped.


The closure of resorts hurts both the ski tourism business and Europe’s economy, as they transformed these once quiet towns into popular tourist destinations. The holiday season is especially important for ski towns, as wealthy tourists pour in to enjoy skiing, snow activities and winter sports competitions. Without snow, tourism will decline.


Kayla Choi Art

Regardless, ski resorts have attempted to find different solutions to stay in business. Some resorts use snow cannons to create artificial snow, while others use helicopters to carry snow. National Geographic found that in 2019, Germany, Austria and Switzerland invested $1.5 billion in total in skiing infrastructure—mostly on snow cannons—to create man-made mountain slopes.





However, this is not always feasible. Snow cannons require a temperature of around 25 degrees Fahrenheit to work, but many ski resorts face warmer weather. Furthermore, snow cannons consume a lot of water, which drought-ridden countries such as France cannot afford to do.


“Snow cannons and helicopters that transport snow are a waste of energy and contribute to the climate crisis. It is best to leave nature to heal on its own so that one day, it can naturally provide people with ski slopes again,” Junior Steven Rapp said.

On the other hand, some residents of ski towns oppose ski resorts. They believe that the industry is hurting the beauty of the mountains and no longer creating the job opportunities that it had in the past. Many Europeans argue that other activities like mountain biking, hiking or simply enjoying the landscape are sufficient alternatives to skiing.


Per The Washington Post, some climate change activists believe that governments have not been actively working to resolve ski resort challenges. However, in 2021, the Spanish government prohibited parts of a small resort near Madrid from operating, which activists celebrated.


“Governments should restrict ski resorts more actively. Despite the lack of snow, many do not close in an attempt to stay in business. Slopes without enough snow can cause injuries and other problems,” Senior Aditya Mishra said.

The future of ski resorts is unclear, with many businesses struggling to do anything to stay in business—despite troubles from factors outside of their control.

 

About the Contributors

Gilina Voon

staff writer



Gilina Voon is a junior at Leland High School and is a writer and photographer for The Charger Account. She loves to run with her friends, cuddle with her dog, and travel/explore the world.








Kayla Choi

artist



Kayla Choi is a junior at Leland High school and an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys to drawing, sleeping and listening to music.

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