chilled out | 

Europe’s ski resorts bounce back as gloomy predictions are frozen out

Scare stories suggesting Europe's ski resorts were on the brink of collapse last month, but business is booming.

Winter fun is flowing in Austria's Skiwelt region

Kevin PalmerSunday World

The snowless fields of the Alps were images that sent shivers of fear down the spines of the skiing industry last month, but a chilly bounce back has warmed the hearts in recent weeks.

TV networks and media outlets around the world ran stories suggesting Europe's ski resorts were on the brink of collapse in the first two weeks of 2023.

Global warming was blamed for the lack of snow in resorts that have been packed with visitors for decades, yet those concerns have been chilled in recent weeks.

Temperatures have plummeted in the Austrian Alps since that early January blip, with the unusually early start to the ski season in mid-November compensating for a two-week thaw in the opening weeks of this year.

The changing climate has not come as a surprise to ski locations that have been preparing for the new conditions for the last two decades.

Snow-making cannons are will keep Europe's ski resorts open long beyond the dates predicted by the gloom spreaders.

And in the Austrian resort of Soll in the Skiwelt region, the wintery images of the last few weeks have come with plummeting temperatures that have been lower than expected over the last few weeks.

European resorts have been preparing for warming temperatures in recent years by investing heavily in snow-making cannons that have the potential to keep their businesses alive for years to come.

Indeed, the Skiwelt region is an example of a location perfectly placed to withstand the storm that may be created by rising global temperatures, with the region operating a full service throughout the ski season despite the late arrival of snow in mid-January.

Even though they are not one of the highest resorts on offer to skiers, the interconnecting slopes of a region that also includes Ellmau, Scheffau and Brixen im Thale use flat famers fields for its skiing.

This means they only need 30cm of snow for perfect conditions and ensures it is easier to turn this terrain into a winter wonderland than the more rocky landscape found in high-altitude ski resorts that on rockier terrain.

With 16 snowmaking lakes that fill up ahead naturally ahead of the ski season, this is an eco-friendly solution to a problem and this explains why Skiwelt is know as one of the most ecologically friendly ski resorts in the world.

Their success suggests ski lovers will not need to raise their ambitions and travel to the highest resorts to get their snow fun in years to come.

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