It's no secret that a lot of ski resorts make their own snow because weather is not something humans can control. However, The Weather Channel reported that the snow at the 2018 Winter Olympics is fake, and not everyone is happy about it. If you feel like you've been duped, the report also reveals that the Midland, Mich., company responsible for the Olympic snow also supplied the fluffy white stuff for the 1988, 1998, 2002, 2010, and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Even though PyeongChang is plenty cold, it apparently doesn't get a lot of snow, hence the need for the manmade winter wonderland. "This is because the predominant wind in February is off mainland Asia, often bitterly cold and dry air from Siberia," The Weather Channel's Meteorologist Jonathan Belles said on weather.com.
While fake snow at the Olympics might seem odd, it's actually better for competition because it's an exact science verses a decision left up to mother nature, USA Today reported. "It has to be hard enough that it’s durable and it’s not going to rut up after 10 races," Mountain Operations Manager Geoff Marriner told USA Today. "But it can’t be so hard and just turn into a sheet of ice. There’s a balance in there."
It's getting a lot of attention now, but fake snow at the Winter Olympics has been going on for decades, according to History.com. During the 1964 games in Austria the lack of snow caused officials to get inventive when they carved up ice to supplement the sparse snowfall. Additionally, "The 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid saw the first Olympic use of machines to make artificial snow, in order to guarantee favorable conditions for all events. Artificial snow proved more resilient than natural snow, and held up better in rainy or warm weather," History.com reported.
Artificial snow has myriad benefits, according to Smithsonian magazine. Because snowmakers can control it, skiers know what to expect and are all competing under the same conditions, even those conditions aren't the most ideal. "From a skier perspective, there really isn’t a ‘best’ snow, as long as it’s there and comparable for all the competitors, we’re usually pretty happy," Ph.D. glaciologist Sarah Konrad told Smithsonian. While some people feel tricked after learning how the sausage is made, others think it's no big deal.
Would people stop buying skis if they knew there was hardly any snow and the person teaching them how to ski doesn't know how IRL? Perhaps, but sometimes when the weather doesn't cooperate, or the person who actually does know how to ski fails to turn up to a video shoot, you have to get creative.
"As the climate warms and snowfall becomes increasingly scarce in some locales, outdoor winter sports have come under threat," Maya Wei-Haas wrote for Smithsonian. "In Sochi, the organizers created enough snow to cover 1,000 football fields, covering the voluminous piles with insulated yoga-mat like blankets. Along with tech to create artificial snow and preserve snow from year to year, these types of fixes may become increasingly important for the Olympics in the years ahead."
It seems that if we want to continue to watch daredevil winter athletes compete on a global stage every four years, people are going to have to get on board with fake snow. I mean, it's not like the betrayal you likely felt when you found out that Santa Claus wasn't real, right? This fake-snow lie should land much more softly than learning that those gifts under the tree on Christmas morning are really from your parents. Because, with global warming, there might come a day when real snow is nothing but a distant memory.