The Green Olympics: Sochi to have recycled snow on hand

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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.

World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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