Monday, 3 August 2015

A Winter Olympics without snow?

On Friday the IOC selected Beijing as host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, this means it will be the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
An obvious choice then you might think considering the city's pedigree?

Beijing Winter Olympic venue
Yanqing, the venue for some of the skiing events receives just two inches of snowfall per year

There is an obvious floor with the bid as you may be able to recognize in the image above...
This part of China barely receives any precipitaion which means hardly any natural snowfall!
Beijing is not a mountainous city, so the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will be held in Yanqing (55 miles away from the capital) and Zhangjiakou (100 miles away), on the edge of the Gobi desert. But even these remote venues see minimal snowfall - Zhangjiakou averages eight inches of the white stuff per year, while Yanqing gets a miserly two inches.
To combat this organizers plan to take snow-making to an entirely new level by stock-piling snow in warehouse ready to transform the baron mountain where it plans to host the downhill events, in addition to this snow cannons will also help to tranform the mountain.

So why did the IOC choose Beijing?

Shymbulak ski resort, Kazakhstan

Well to be frank they had only one other option to choose from. The other contender to the host the games was Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The main advantage of hosting the games here is the actual snowfall they receive during the winter, and this was reflected in the presentation of their bid with the cheeky slogan 'Keeping it Real'. The disadvantage is the city's distinct lack of experience in hosting such an event of this caliber and this was ultimately the deciding factor. The Kazakh city was left as the only competitor to Beijing for the games after a series of European cities, including Krakow,  Oslo and Stockholm, withdrew from the selection process, blaming low public support and concerns about the huge costs of hosting the Games.

So with the 2018 Winter Olympic Games to be hosted in South Korea it seems like Asia is taking full advantage of Europe's current financial inability to host in one of her cities.
The major question to be answered is  can these two Asian cities provide an inspiring Winter Olympics with very little skiing tradition?

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