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Entire ski resort left snowless as future of sport under threat

Temperatures too high even for fake snow

Alessandro Parodi
Tuesday 06 February 2024 10:04 GMT
Skiing into the climate crisis?

A popular ski resort in central Italy is lying idle this winter, with businesses and residents blaming climate change for spring-like temperatures that have left entire mountains snowless.

Ski-lifts are switched off and snow cannon lie abandoned on the grass of Mount Terminillo, which soars 2,217 metres (7,274 feet) high in the Apennines and is normally a favourite destination of skiers from Rome.

This year the shops and bars are nearly all closed, with no one coming to rent equipment or buy a hot drink on the way to the slopes.

“A crucial detail is missing for a ski facility: snow,” complained Vincenzo Regnini, president of the company that runs the local transport and ski-lift facilities.

Not only has it never snowed, but the high temperatures have even made it impossible to produce artificial snow using cannon, Regnini told Reuters.

“Transforming water into snow needs a temperature at least close to zero degrees. Last week we had 12 (Celsius, 54 Fahrenheit),” he said.

Central Apennines is facing a challenging ski season (REUTERS)

Rising temperatures threaten the skiing industry worldwide but Italy, with its many relatively low-altitude resorts in the Apennines as well as the Alps, is particularly badly affected.

Around Terminillo, which normally offers more than 9 kilometres of slopes less than 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Rome, the locals are afraid that skiing and the business it brings will become a memory of the past.

“We’ve never had a season like this, it’s tough,” said resident Domenico Cerza, while Lola De Sanctis, another local, decided to look on the bright side.

“It feels like June .. so what can we do? Let’s enjoy the sun,” she said.

Some 90% of Italy’s pistes rely on artificial snow, compared with 70% in Austria, 50% in Switzerland and 39% in France, according to data from Italian Green lobby Legambiente.

Italy will use the Milano-Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Olympics in 2026 to showcase its most famous winter sports destinations, but with dwindling snowfall a growing number of resorts are considering alternative sources of tourist revenue.

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