Skating On Thin Ice - 8 ways global warming is affecting winter sports.

Released by: International and Environment America

Release date: February 20, 2014
>Download Report


Phil Huffeldt, Snowriders International Coordinator, (303) 801-0578,
 Anneli Berube, Environment Colorado Regional Field Organizer, (303)573-3871 x317, 


Global Warming has Colorado Winter Sports and Winter Olympics Skating on Thin Ice

 Denver, CO – With the world’s attention on the Sochi Olympic Games, Environment Colorado revealed a summary of global warming impacts on Winter Olympic sports and highlighting the need to act urgently to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming.

 “When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Anneli Berube, Field Organizer, with Environment Colorado. Philip Huffeldt of Snowriders International agrees, “there’s still time to keep from sliding off the edge by going after the biggest sources of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.” 

Environment Colorado and Snowriders International point to increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable winter host sites, as climate impacts are threatening the Winter Olympic Games. They also warned that unchecked global warming could accelerate these changes. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, organizers trucked in and manufactured tons of extra snow. The unusually warm conditions that trigger these extreme measures could become the new normal.

 Power plants that burn fossil fuels like coal and gas are the largest sources of carbon pollution in the U.S. But while there are limits on smog, soot, and other dangerous pollution from power plants, there are no federal limits on the industrial carbon pollution power plants emit.

 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comments on its proposal to start limiting carbon pollution from new power plants, and plans to propose limits on carbon from existing power plants in June. Americans have already submitted 4 million comments to the EPA supporting limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

 “A shorter snow season means less time to practice on the slopes – and less fun,” said Confluence Kayak and Ski owner Jonathan Kahn, who joined Environment Colorado and Snowriders International at a news conference. “And that’s true for regular folks like me just as much as our Olympic skiers.”

 The Winter Olympic Games aren’t the only victims of climate change – scientists are seeing global warming’s fingerprints on the devastating wildfires and extreme flooding that are already exacting a huge toll on Coloradans’ public safety.

 “We can expect to see later accumulating snow, early snowmelt, and less snow overall, punctuated by the occasional large snowfall,” said Dr. Mark Williams, CU Boulder ‘Professor of Snow’. “It’s not all gloom and doom, but we have lots to do to reduce carbon pollution and lessen our impact on global warming.”

 “President Obama has committed to protecting our children and grandchildren from the worst impacts of global warming, but the EPA’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants is not yet in place,” said Berube. “The fossil fuel industry and their allies in Congress are already lining up to block the president’s plan. Colorado’s leaders must show their support for climate action.” 

“Artificial snow and skiing on grass won’t save our communities or our way of life, but saving winter by fighting global warming will,” concluded Huffeldt.



Environment Colorado is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to protect our air, water and open spaces.


Snowriders International is an organization of skiers, boarders, and mountain recreation enthusiasts dedicated to promoting winter sports and protecting the environment.