Last year I was fortunate (thanks to my republicEn colleagues’ blessing) to work the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. And last week I wrapped up a week and a half helping out at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Over 1,400 athletes from more than 50 countries came together to compete in a variety of winter sports in the Adirondacks. And just as sustainability was a major secondary theme in Beijing, the same rang true in Lake Placid where in conjunction with the WUG, FISU hosted a the Save Winter conference to explore the impact of climate change on winter sports.
According to FISU, “Save Winter” is a movement to unite all of us who love winter to work as one to save the season of snow. Speakers came together to raise awareness surrounding climate change as it relates to and impacts winter sports.
In fact, one of the local worries heading into the WUG was the lack of seasonal winter weather and “good fresh snow,” according to Adirondack Sports Council’s Jim McKenna. The lack of quality snow causes artificial snow to be made, which comes at a cost.
“The weather may or may not be good, and the athletes are going to want to compete on the best snow and ice,” Karlan Jessen, head of sustainability and legacy for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games, said.
Luckily, the weather stayed cold and we got several small bouts of snow during the 10-day stretch of the Games. If only the timing was a week later when several snow storms were forecast for the area this week.
Even athletes competing in indoor winter sports recognize the importance and urgency around climate change. 2022 Olympic gold medalist and three-time world figure skating champion Nathan Chen said, “If we don’t act now, and work together, everything we love could be at risk.”Chen is supporting his hometown of Salt Lake City and is a member of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee that is bidding for either the 2030 or 2034 Olympic Winter Games.
And climate change will certainly factor in to the International Olympic Committee’s decision on where to award future host cities bidding for the Games. The IOC announced last month a delay in picking the 2030 host city because they need to more closely examine the impact of climate change on cities vying to host the Games. Clearly the issue is not going away anytime soon.
But back to beautiful Lake Placid, thanks to Bob and my republicEn teammates for allowing me the opportunity and special experience last week!