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The Green Olympics: Sochi to have recycled snow on hand

Dec 17, 2012, 3:46 PM EDT

Sara Takanashi AP

Good news out of Sochi: If there’s a shortage of snow next winter, Olympic organizers have a battle-tested method that will ensure the Games will go on.

Much has been reported about the Sochi area’s climate, which is warm at the Black Sea coast (49 degrees is the average high in February). Although it’s cooler in the mountains, about 30 miles away, where the skiing and sliding events will take place, the threat of not having enough snow for the competitions is real.

But there appears to be a solution: Underground storage facilities that can house 250,000 cubic meters of snow.

On Dec. 8-9, this backup plan was implemented at a women’s ski jumping event at the Olympic venue.

It seems to have worked.

Organizers removed 4,600 cubic meters of last winter’s snow from the subterranean chamber and dropped it at the ski jumping venue. Then the snow was smoothed over the under-padding at the hill and the result was a perfect surface that was fit for competition. In other words, it was a success.

“Snow in February is guaranteed, but in case of warm weather, we have prepared a backup plan,’’ head of the Olympic Organizing Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko told the Toronto Star. “We are storing snow from the previous season to use at all the venues. During the World Cup in ski jumping, we successfully tested the system.’’

In addition to keeping the year-old snow (does it have an expiration date?), there will be more than 400 pieces of snowmaking equipment on hand.

Will Sochi defy the naysayers and actually become one of the snowiest winter Olympics in history? That might be taking it too far, but it seems that any weather worries may be unnecessary.

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