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World Cup ski season disrupted by unwintry warm weather

World Cup ski events in almost every discipline have been affected by unseasonably warm weather this season in Europe and North America.

High temps in Europe, North America cause cancellations

Next week's aerials and moguls World Cup event at Lake Placid, N.Y., is just one of many ski events being cancelled across eastern North America and Europe due to high temperatures this winter. (Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

World Cup ski events in almost every discipline have been affected by unseasonably warm weather this season in Europe and North America.

Since November, a number of events scheduled for central Europe and North America's east coast have been cancelled, relocated or modified due to a lack of snow, which in other places is plentiful.

"Where it's really weird is the west coast of North America is unbelievable for snow right now," Willy Raine, the athletic director for Canada Ski Cross, told CBC Sports. "There's almost too much snow in British Columbia.

"But the east and Europe have been golfing."

Costly changes

Raine and the rest of Team Canada's ski and snowboard staff are constantly changing their already jam-packed calendars in an effort to adapt to the conditions and try to get athletes on snow.

"We've had lots of changes," said Raine. "We were supposed to be racing this weekend on the ninth and 10th. That event was cancelled. The event that was on the 15th and 16th was then cancelled."

While Raine understands how cancellations and changes affect athletes, the pressure is really on Team Canada's ski and snowboard staff. It not only takes lots of time and coordination of travel schedules — it costs money too. 

"Last year I think we had 100 per cent of everything we did change," Raine said. "We probably spent upwards of $20,000 on change fees with airlines. At the end of the day that's not [money towards putting] somebody on snow, getting better at skiing.

'Impossible to produce enough snow'

Lake Placid, a well-known World Cup stop in Upstate New York, recently had to cancel an aerials and moguls World Cup event that was supposed to take place Jan. 14-16.

"Unusually warm temperatures and lack of natural snowfall has made it impossible to produce enough snow for a moguls course at Whiteface Mountain," said Jon Lundin, director of communications at the Olympic Regional Development Authority. "Inclement weather has also limited snowmaking at the aerials site at the Olympic Jumping Complex."

Besides being unable to host World Cup events, Lundin says Lake Placid is also experiencing a slow start to the season for recreational skiers. They're unable to open trails that are usually available by this time of year. 

Temperatures starting to drop

Until winter finally arrives, Team Canada is making do. The ski cross team is currently in Europe trying to simulate competition at a training camp.

"We'll be training with three or four other teams and try to recreate some competition-like scenarios just because there's energy inside the athletes that kind of need to be released a little bit," said Raine.

However, Raine says certain venues in Europe recently got half a metre to a metre of snow, and Lake Placid has seen 10 inches fall in the last week. Winter seems to finally be making an appearance, much to the relief of Canada's winter sport athletes.

"Probably one of the bigger challenges for winter sports, especially ones on snow, is that as a fan base when people don't see snow, maybe forget about the winter based sports. That can be a little bit hard," said Raine. "Having good crowds and having people following what they're doing is important [for athletes].

"So it's nice to see that the winter is back and alive and well across the world in the last two or three days."

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