No snow for the Games? Olympian says fake flakes can give athletes an edge

Jan 25, 2022, 5:05 PM
real snow fake snow...
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 25: Shougang Big Air, where some competitions of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be held, is seen behind a fence delimitating the area not accessible to the general public, at Shougang Park, on January 25, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2022 Beijing Winter Games are set to begin without actual snow. But two-time Olympian and U.S. Ski Hall of Famer, Trace Worthington says artificial snow is not always a bad thing for athletes.

He joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to talk about what fake flakes mean for athletes competing in the Games set to begin Feb. 3. 

Is manmade snow trickier to compete on than the real thing?

“No not at all,” Worthington told Debbie. “It’s actually a more consistent base for a lot of the athletes, depending on maybe what your discipline is.”

He added the consistency of artificial snow makes the snow texture predictable, which is helpful in selecting the right wax.

Related: Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: The Fake Beijing Olympic Games

“Some of the natural snow mixed in over time or throughout the Games makes it tricky — for the outdoor venues anyway,” Worthington said.

For ski jumping, he said artificial snow can be added to make the aerial landing hill deeper.

“What’s it like for the downhill racers? Are they just skiing on ice?” Dave asked.

“When you see an event over in Europe  . . .  we think it’s all natural snow. They’re actually injecting a lot of water into those courses because the natural snow is way too soft,” said Worthington.

Many Olympic surfaces are manufactured

For indoor events like hockey, figure skating, curling, and long- and short-track speed skating, the athletes can plan better and get adjusted to the manufactured surface more quickly because it is more predictable than natural snow.

“I was on a call yesterday with the head coach of the US snowboard cross team,” Worthington said. “He’s like, ‘Yeah, we can’t wait to get over there. We have three different wax techs. We’re going to check out the air temperature, the snow texture.’ . . . They seem to like the consistency of it.”

“Are you excited for the games? I know I am. I look forward to Winter Games like I look forward to Christmas when I was a kid,” Debbie said.

“Oh, I’m psyched,” Worthington said.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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No snow for the Games? Olympian says fake flakes can give athletes an edge