January 16, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
“Why do we love snow so much? What is the attractiveness of this? Sarah Lewis, FISU Deputy Secretary General and FISU COO, asked her audience on the final day of the Save Winter Conference, held as part of the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid.
“On a bluebird day like Sunday, all bright and sunny with snow crystals reflecting in the light, there’s no question why we love snow,” Lewis said.
“You can feel the uplifting effect on our well-being as soon as you walk out the door and take a deep breath of that fresh and cold air.”
The conditions for all the events on the third day of the competition of this year’s FISU Winter Games were perfect and attracted countless spectators to the stadiums, who could watch the students compete at the highest level.
A small group of people, however, chose not to watch the action on the field, but rather to sit at the Lake Placid Center of the Arts to follow the discussion about the future prospects.
In particular, “The Future of Snow”, as the theme of one of the sessions was called. The focus was on taking into account the implemented adaptations of major North American and international ski resorts to ensure the existence of snow in the future, in a sustainable and responsible way.
Lewis shared a panel discussion with three experts in the field.
One of them was Meta Bergwall, Sustainability Manager for Vail Resorts East Region, who wanted to get the message across that “Vail Resorts is committed to preserving these amazing places where we live, work and play for future generations.”
Bergwall explained Vail Resorts’ ambitious and perhaps hard-to-achieve 2027 zero-emissions goal, saying: “We’ve always said that if you don’t set goals so big that you’re initially unsure how to achieve them, then they’re not big enough, to solve the problem of climate change”.
The panel was also attended by Nat Knowles, a Canadian conservationist and PhD student from the University of Waterloo, and Mike Pratt from Lake Placid, President and CEO of the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
As weather conditions around the world become more extreme, dramatic and stormy, Lewis, who has been involved in the sport for more than forty years, pointed out that Lake Placid and cities in the Adirondack region depend heavily on snow for for the livelihood of the community.
While the panel focused on the future of snow, Lewis also dared to look back in history and highlighted that just before the 1980 Olympics, Lake Placid was in fact in short supply of natural snow, causing organizers to implement artificial snow production for the first time in history and be pioneers in the use of grooming machines.
“Lake Placid has always been a leader in adapting to changing situations and hosting large-scale events,” Lewis said in an interview after the panel.
The former Olympian in alpine skiing from Great Britain has no doubt that events such as the Winter Olympics or the FISU Winter Games will remain in the future.
“I think what we have to show, and we are doing with the FISU World University Games, is that we have to be ready to adapt. The climate has changed and will continue to change. That’s why we always have to make sure that what we’re doing is appropriate to the current circumstances.”
Written by Annika Saunus, FISU Young Reporter
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