Winter sports are a favorite among countless people from all around the world. Every year during the winter Olympics, people from places hot and cold cash out to go see those icy sports in action. And during seasonal changes, lots of people pick cold, snowy peaks as their first destinations for travel. Whoever said that these sports are only embraced by people from cold climates might have a hard lesson coming their way…if anything were to affect those cold temperatures. And word on the block is, that reality might just be around the corner.
Skiiers, snowboarders, ice hockey players, and economists take heed: changes in our climate could affect these favorite pastimes for adventurers and spectators alike. Wait a second – why economists? Good question. In the United States alone, sports tourism adds some $20 billion to the annual economy – and the numbers are just as significant elsewhere, if not more so.
At a climate action summit this week, Geert Hendriks, head of Swiss-based nonprofit group Sport and Sustainability International, spoke out about the future of winter sports, and the people who should anticipate being affected. According to Hendriks, the number of ski resorts in the Alps with enough snow to support winter tourism dropped to 176 from 193 in the last decade. “I don’t have to tell you what’s going to happen if that keeps going. The Alps will no longer be a ski resort,” he said.
As fans and players of winter sports join efforts to fight climate change with election campaigning and other organized efforts, the question remains of whether or not their support will be the shift this movement needs to make significant moves towards positive change.