The 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing are over. These last 2 weeks were rich in emotion, our champions won 5 gold medals, 7 silver medals and 2 bronze medals for a total of 14 medals. France finished in 10th position behind Russia and in front of Canada.
These Games have allowed us to discover promising talents who, no doubt, will make us dream in their turn in Milan, in 2026.
The 2022 Olympics are marked by an event that has made a lot of noise especially on social networks. This reaction is due to the lack of natural snow. Indeed, the snow present in Beijing during this edition was composed of 100% artificial snow.
The lack of snow in China has naturally led the country to opt for this solution to accommodate athletes from around the world and organize this 24th edition.
This particular snow makes debate, some say that the artificial snow replaces the natural snow without problem, others affirm that it has nothing to do with the one that offers us the nature which we are used to. A never-ending debate that will not cease to be disputed at each edition now, with global warming as the cause.
For 2 reasons. The first is the adaptation to this snow with athletes, the second is the ecological impact that it encumbers.
Concerning the sensations of skiing, many sportsmen and women are very satisfied with this snow, which is apparently pleasant, easy, enjoyable and provides good sensations. The French biathlete Martin Fourcade, five-time gold medalist at the Olympics, said on France Inter that he felt no difference between these two types of snow.
Wouldn’t artificial snow be the perfect snow in terms of sensations? In view of the feedback from this edition and from our champion, no doubt. But from an ecological point of view, can we draw the same conclusion?
According to Carlo Carmagnola, scientist and snow specialist, in collaboration with the CNRS, the National Center for Meteorological Research and Météo France, if we count all the artificial snow used in France, within all the ski resorts, nearly 30 million cubic meters of water are used. For comparison, this is approximately the same amount of water used for a city like Grenoble.
As far as electricity is concerned, snowmaking consumes up to 5 kWh per cubic meter of water, a result that has been decreasing over the years thanks to the new technologies that are constantly being developed.
“It usually takes 4,000 cubic meters of water,” explains Carlo Carmagnola. According to his estimates, it therefore takes at least 12,000 kWh of electricity to artificially snow one hectare of piste. For comparison, “The average consumption of a 70-square-meter house heated with electricity is estimated at about 10,000 kWh per year, while a 150-square-meter house, also equipped with an electric heating system, consumes about 17,000 kWh per year.”
The organizers of the Beijing 2022 Olympics guarantee that the snow cannons are powered by solar panels, enough to reassure the most skeptical.
For Carlo Carmagnola, the use of artificial snow has a low environmental impact compared to other disciplines or even other activities of everyday life. New technologies would make it possible to minimize the resources used in the coming years.
This is not the opinion of Vincent Vlès, professor of urban planning and development at the University of Toulouse who denounces “Making snow requires a compression of air and water that requires a lot of electricity“. Artificial snow melts more slowly which, according to him, causes a delay in the regrowth of flora and increases the proliferation of invasive plants.
There is also noise pollution. “The snow guns run at night when the temperatures are colder. They make a lot of noise, between 60 and 80 decibels,” which is equivalent to the noise level of a noisy canteen. This disturbs the fauna, especially nocturnal animals.
The NGO China Water Risk also denounces by stating that the equivalent of 800 Olympic swimming pools are needed to ensure the proper functioning of the Alpine skiing events.
A debate that will continue to divide and resurface at each edition.
Respecting the environment is a priority. This is why our projects are part of an ecological and environmental approach.
Chamoue places particular importance on respecting the fauna and flora that make up the mountain and that make it a living and natural place.
We collaborate directly with local actors who are committed to respect the environment.
In addition to integrating perfectly into their setting, each of our projects is subject to a careful study of the impact on its direct environment. Thanks to these studies entrusted to local actors, we make sure to respect and preserve the richness that the mountain offers us.