Saving snow in Sochi ensures a Wintery Olympics

Saving snow in Sochi ensures a Wintery Olympics

The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver proved to be very difficult for course builders to provide enough snow to make the games run as smoothly as they could have. Snow had to be helicoptered in and was salvaged in as many ways as possible. With the addition of slope style added to the Olympics this year for skiing and snowboarding, more snow is going to be needed than ever for the Olympics to run successfully, and for jumps and rail features to be big enough to support all of the new triple corks and craziness that is going on snow these days.

Mikko Martikainen, one of the maintenance organizers for the Sochi 2014 Olympics last summer decided that he did not want the same fate to happen in his hometown. Last year, he piled together 500,000 cubic meters of snow and covered it with special insulated blankets. It has been piled under these blankets since last winter and is a good amount for backup in case temperatures rise over the next couple of weeks, or if snowmaking machines break down. He actually invented this process 12 years ago, so it is an honor for him to have his techniques used on a level as high as the Olympics.

Moving the snow under these specialized tarps is just a precaution. So far this year Sochi received an ample amount of snow in November and December, where at this point in Janurary it seems to have hit a dry spell. It is also expected that it is going to be a warm February, so at least the snow maintenance organizers will have some sort of back up plan. Perhaps Tahoe mountain resorts should start using the techniques of Martikainen and preserving their snow every year because we are in a serious dry spell right now.

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