Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating don't go very well if there's no snow on the ground. That's why Russia is in the process of stockpiling 500,000 cubic meters of this year's snow just in case there isn't enough for next year's Winter Olympic Games, to be held in the Russian seaside city of Sochi.
A lack of snow in 2014 isn't all that remote a possibility: the average winter temperature in Sochi is nearly 43 degrees, according to the news site New European Economy. That has already had an impact. The New York Times reports that several winter sporting competitions in the region were canceled over the last few years because there just wasn't enough snow.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, the president of the Sochi 2014 organizing committee, told the Times that they have learned from those failed events. "During the Games, we will have more snow and we will have all the events," he said.
In order to make good on that promise, a company called Snow Secure is collecting what's left of this year's snow and putting it into 10 shady pockets that have been constructed on mountains above the Sochi Olympic village. The snow will be covered by a layer of isothermal fabrics that will reflect the sun's rays and prevent most of the snow from melting. Next winter the snow will then be moved back down the mountain via heavy machinery or pushed into meter-thick pipes that will allow the snow to slide down to the competition fields.
The cost for these massive snow reservoirs is being picked up by the ski resort Roza Khutor, which will host several of the competitions. The general manager of the resort told Reuters that the storage will cost $11 million.
The Olympic organizers do expect that maybe half of the collected snow will melt, but as they say in Russia, "pod kontrolem," (it's "under control"). They have also installed 400 snowmaking machines, more than exist at any other site in Europe.
The Sochi Winter Olympic Games will be held in February 2014.
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