A white band amidst green slopes in Adelboden.
Tobias Ochsenbein and Thomas Muller
High temperatures, green slopes, hardly any snow: some of the ski areas are so desperate that they – like Gstaad BE – are fighting the lack of snow with extreme means. There, the white splendor was flown onto the green slopes by helicopter.
The conditions in Adelboden BE shortly before the Ski World Cup race are anything but optimal. And yet: The International Ski Federation (FIS) found the snow conditions to be good shortly before the turn of the year – both for the races in Adelboden and in Wengen BE. The preparations for this are in full swing.
Hardly any snow: This is how Adelboden fights on the Chuenisbärgli(03:17)
The ski races in the two World Cup venues are among the most spectacular of the season. Infrastructure, logistics, World Cup village – the respective budget for the implementation is accordingly in the millions. No wonder the organizers depend on the fact that the races can be held under all circumstances.
Subsidies for races in the “green”?
Alone: It’s not just the lack of snow that affects the venues, but also the deficits that these events throw off. Adelboden and Wengen have to struggle with rising costs from year to year, and the canton of Bern supports the races with several hundred thousand francs. This also raises the question: How useful are such World Cup races in the “green”?
“On the one hand, you have to see the importance that these races have for the region and the economy. That alone justifies for me that everything is done to hold the Ski World Cup races in Adelboden and Wengen, »says the Bernese Central National Councilor Lorenz Hess (61). Regions are already suffering enough from the lack of snow, he thinks. “To do without it would only be treating the symptoms of climate change. Long-term solutions are needed to stop climate change.”
The Bernese SP National Councilor Matthias Aebischer (55) has a similar opinion. “A Ski World Cup season is extremely tightly scheduled. So it is clear that every venue that has made it onto the World Cup calendar does everything it can to be able to hold the races. Artificial snow and snow cement have been used for decades,” he says. There is an exceptional weather situation this season. If this is the case every year, you would have to basically use the books. “But that’s not up for discussion for me at the moment,” says Aebischer.
“The slope is prepared and groomed, a lot has been invested and work is continuing on it. It certainly doesn’t make sense to cancel the races now,” agrees Aargau Central National Councilor Marianne Binder-Keller (64). Certainly, however, organizers of such races would have to ask themselves in future to what extent the effort and income were still right. “To be able to ski under such circumstances, you need a large investment,” says Binder-Keller.
«The public sector should not invest in snow tourism that is melting away»
The Green National Councilor Natalie Imboden (52), on the other hand, thinks: “We must slowly realize that snow is finite at medium altitudes. And admit to ourselves: Skiing is probably a thing of the past.” You can of course do everything – with a lot of effort – to delay the end of skiing. But: winter sports as we know them historically will soon no longer exist. “That is why all investments that we are still making in this regard are bad investments. We have to rethink and put all our energy into climate protection,” says Imboden.
She is not against the support of sporting events, explains the Bernese Greens politician. “But I am against public authorities investing in snow tourism that is melting away. That’s why I’ve always been critical of the canton supporting events like the Ski World Cup races in Adelboden or Wengen.”
GLP National Councilor Beat Flach (57) also sees such support critically: “Basically, I understand that people are trying to run races. However, it is the responsibility of the organizers to use the funds from the municipalities, cantons and the federal government sparingly. Don’t waste them clutching at straws.”