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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Biathlon season opener under fire

Norway’s biathlon federation has been accused of sending the wrong climate signals, after mild weather threatened this weekend’s season opener for the sport that combines skiing and shooting. The federation (Skiskytterforbundet) opted to drive in 100 truckloads of snow stored since last winter, in order to prepare a 1.5-kilometer race course.

Sports commentators, climate activists and several skiers themselves think the federation should have cancelled or delayed the season opener instead. There’s no question that warmer weather is already leading to shorter winters in Norway, but sports bureaucrats still want to launch competitions (and generate income from them) in November.

“It’s the gigantic climate problem that’s the biggest problem for all winter sports,” said state broadaster NRK’s commentator Jan Petter Saltvedt. In this case, he noted, “they’re not fighting the climate change but contributing to it,” referring to all the carbon emissions from the truckloads of snow driven from a stadium in Lillehammer (where it had been stored) to Sjusjøen, a popular cross-country skiing area in the hills north of Hamar.

Saltvedt claimed the decision to create artificial ski tracks shows how “desperate” skiing officials have become. Sigrun Gjerløw Aasland of the environmental organization Zero added “ironic,” given all the “time, energy and resources” used to drive in snow just as international leaders were meeting once again this week to agree on new climate measures. Biathlon commentator Harri Luchsinger agrees.

“I think it’s high time to evaluate a later start to the season, when we see year after year that we have conditions like now,” Luchsinger told NRK. There’s no natural snow in the Sjusjøen area yet, and temperatures have been too high to make artificial snow. Biathlon federation officials declined comment. staff




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