Where have the good old winters gone?

When I was younger, winters without snow were something unimaginable. And so were winters without skiing. When the first snow fell, we would scrape the old skiing wax off the skis, fix the binding and straighten the poles, bent in the previous winters’ crashes…

In those days, skiing was a widespread hobby. Practically everyone could afford a pair of skis, if not down-hill ones, then at least cross country ones, matched with a pair of bamboo poles and Czech-made boots that felt like they were made of paper. Ski lifts in the old days consisted of nothing more than a moving cable. Skiers would have a rope tied round their waist, and with a certain amount of skill, they would hook themselves to the cable and let themselves be towed up the hill… A T-bar lift was still a luxury at that time and a cableway something most of us could only dream of…

Nowadays, skiing has become a big deal and even our small country boasts state-of-the-art facilities with stylish cableways, ice bars, luxury suits and ski rentals packed with the latest versions of skis and snowboards. Skiers on the slopes are equipped with helmets, fog-proof goggles, rainproof jackets and wind proof hats… But, there is a catch … First of all, while the number of ski-centres has been growing, the slopes have remained the same and they are increasingly overcrowded. And second, there is less and less natural snow.

While the facilities and equipment get better and better, the weather conditions for skiing seem to get worse with every passing year, which is of course hard to come to terms with. In fact, there are many who simply refuse to take it into account. Such as the mayors of towns who build expensive skiing centres and subsequently run into debt when the snow doesn’t come. Or, the organizers of the Nordic World Ski Championships, which is due to start here in the Czech Republic in less than two months’ time.

The venue, located only 700 metres above sea level, had already faced difficulties with the lack of snow in the past. Last year, the organizers of a skiing event in Vesec had to “steal” snow from surrounding areas and transport it to the site in lorries, because the weather wasn’t cold enough to make artificial snow. With temperatures in the country currently dipping as low as -25 degrees Celsius, conditions seem to be more favourable this year. But even if they weren’t, the event would no doubt take place, given the governments’ more than generous subsidies.

Although I really love skiing, this activity seems nonsensical. Personally, I would rather give up my pastime than see so much energy wasted in order to produce something as fleeting as snow. And if it should happen at any time in the future that I will not have the money to travel to places where snow falls in abundance, then I will do something else instead and maybe daydream about the good old days, when the mountains were covered with pure, white snow and when skiing was so easy.