The warm side of winter
Wintertime activities that many people love to participate in include skiing and snowboarding. Unfortunately, the future of these sports is dubious due to the effects of climate change. But first, I’d like to talk about my own experience learning to ski and my curiosity about how warmer weather may affect the winter sports sector. I wonder about how the future of winter sports will look for upcoming generations as the world adjusts to the truth that natural snow is becoming more and more uncommon.
A decade ago, I first saw snow when I climbed one of the peaks of Nevado del Cocuy. In countries near the equator, where I was born and raised, it’s the only option to experience snow without travelling to the northern or southern hemisphere during winter. It’s just like winter sports enthusiasts who live in places without seasons vacationing at ski resorts in the northern hemisphere.
It’s winter in the northern hemisphere, and many of us, including myself, welcome it. For others, it’s that time of year to migrate south, much like birds. Those who decide to stay look for ways to enjoy the season. A couple of years ago, I decided to venture into winter sports, and without a doubt, it’s the perfect balance to not lose contact with nature and be able to enjoy the snow. That’s why I decided to learn to ski, ride the cable car, appreciate the mountain and ride back down on the skis, which is a unique experience on its own.
This year, I noticed that some ski resorts had to temporarily close due to the high temperatures recorded in early January, well above the historical average. Clearly, there is no snow without cold weather; without snow, there are no winter sports, such as snowboarding or skiing. Without getting into the debate over the causes behind climate change, whether it’s due to global warming or simply natural changes in the earth’s temperature, the collateral effect on industries that depend on winter is evident.
Such is the case with Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN), whose vision focuses on creating a life experience for employees and guests. It’s clear that in order to continue fulfilling their mission, they will likely have to increase their investment in infrastructure and systems, such as those that produce artificial snow, to reduce the risk of having to close or provide bad experiences. I believe that more than the fact of doing a sport, it’s the vibe that is lived in these resorts.
Warmer winter seasons can affect busy destinations such as Whistler Blackcomb, owned by Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN) located in British Columbia. Although I had the opportunity to visit Whistler during summer, I still dream of the day when I can do the 11-kilometre run down from Peak to Creek in Whistler. The latter run is not only the favourite run for many but the longest run in all of North America.
There is no denying that companies and activities that depend on the winter will be impacted by climate change. A few examples of industries that can be impacted by the lack of natural snow are ski resorts, winter sports, winter clothing, and pharmaceutical firms. Future generations may need to get used to a different kind of winter experience as we potentially face a world where artificial snow is the norm. Whatever the future may hold, we can all appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of winter and do our part to conserve the environment and the world’s natural beauties for present and future generations to enjoy.