Paoli Peaks Teaches Us the Art of Snowmaking

Published 02/18 2014 10:00PM

Updated 02/18 2014 10:12PM


A lot has been made of Sochi Problems, even a Twitter account. One of those problems? The snow, or lack thereof, in Sochi.

So how have organizers managed to get so much white stuff on the mountains?

There's no day like a snow day. Especially when you're looking to hit the slopes. Too bad for those competing in the Sochi Games, it hasn't been below freezing since the games began. But there's still snow on the mountain.

Paoli Peaks has had its fair share of warm winters. This one, obviously, excluded.

"We can certainly sympathize with Russia," says Lauren Grenier. "It's actually pretty easy [to make snow]. We pump water from the creek down below and we pump it through a fan and snow comes out."

But for the Olympics, on a world stage, it's a massive problem. Sochi officials began storing snow more than a year ago under thermal blankets high in the Caucasus Mountains. But the biggest risk is that of injury to some of the finest athletes in the world on the questionable surfaces.

"They haven't been ideal," says Grenier. "Especially in a competition like that, when it's very important that the snow is firmer because of the force they land on it every time."

"When you come down on slushy snow your board can catch an edge," says ski patrol supervisor Chris Swank. "You run the risk of your skis or snowboard sinking into the snow."

The sinking skis/boards could lead to major injuries. Wildly fluctuating temperatures force athletes to adjust everything.

"Later in the day it gets colder and it freezes then everything gets so much faster," says Swank. "So you have to alter your tricks to the ever changing snow conditions."

There's more than enough snow in Sochi to finish the Games. But you better believe organizers can only dream of conditions like we've had right here in the Tri-State.

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