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Winter Olympics: NASA pic shows Beijing's ski slopes covered in almost 100% FAKE snow

NASA said in a post that one region being used for the Olympics is relying on 'hundreds' of snow machines to create enough snow for some skiing events
In satellite photographs acquired by NASA, the artificial snow among brown mountains in Beijing Winter Olympic venues appears fully evident. (Photo by NASA.GOV & Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
In satellite photographs acquired by NASA, the artificial snow among brown mountains in Beijing Winter Olympic venues appears fully evident. (Photo by NASA.GOV & Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Artificial snow among brown mountains of the Beijing Winter Olympics venues can clearly be seen in photographs acquired by NASA. In an article from NASA, the agency states that Beijing's alpine skiing routes have maximum inclines of 68 degrees, making it one of the steepest ski runs in the world. Beijing's mountains are perfect for alpine skiing, snowboarding, bobsleighing, luging, and skeleton, but it lacks the one thing that it cannot do without, snow.

As a result, practically all of the snow for the 2022 Winter Olympics was created artificially. Climate change has made it more difficult for snow sports to rely on natural conditions in recent years. The snow during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is entirely artificial, which may result in heavier falls than natural snow. Although artificial snow is not a new addition to the Olympics, this is the first time the competitions will be held with no genuine snow. According to the Associated Press, over 80% of the snow during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi was fake, while more than 90% was artificial in PyeongChang in 2018.


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This isn't due to a lack of foresight or a lousy forecast, though. According to the Associated Press, the International Olympic Committee declared in 2015 that Beijing's bid to host the games this year would have to rely solely on artificial snow. The Associated Press quoted Johanna Taliharm, an Estonian Olympic biathlete, claiming that racing on artificial snow carries risks. She explained, "Artificial snow is icier, therefore faster and more dangerous. It also hurts more if you fall outside of the course when there is no fluffy snowbank, but a rocky and muddy hard ground."

A satellite image shows the ski routes of Beijing Winter Olympics (Photo by NASA.GOV)

Laura Donaldson, a Scottish freestyle skier expressed, “If freestyle super pipes are formed from snow-making machines in a poor season, the walls of the pipe are solid, vertical ice, and the pipe floor is solid ice. This is dangerous for athletes; some have died." Slippery Slopes, a paper published by Loughborough University in London, looked at how the climate problem was hurting the Winter Olympics and validated the athletes' views on artificial snow. The tougher surface, according to the paper, poses a risk of more serious injuries when accidents do occur. The report noted that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is the first to operate on almost 100% artificial snow, which requires a large amount of energy to produce. China could need as much as two million cubic meters of water to create enough fake snow to cover ski runs and access roads during the Games.

NASA satellite image reveals the artificial snow in three Winter Olympic venues (Photo by NASA.GOV)

As the use of artificial snow has been criticized for its environmental effect as well as concerns about athlete safety, causing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to issue a statement supporting its usage. The IOC said that every effort had been taken to reduce the environmental effect, including the use of 100% renewable energy in snow-making equipment, and that artificial snow did not make skiing more unsafe. Environmentalists remain concerned.