What You Missed: Ski Resorts Reliant on Snowmaking for Thanksgiving

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Welcome to What You Missed, our daily digest of breaking news and topical perspectives from across the outdoor world. You can also get this news delivered to your email inbox six days a week by signing up for the What You Missed newsletter. 


Snow guns are working overtime across the country.

From Vermont to California, ski resorts are relying on man-made snow in order to open for Thanksgiving weekend amid unseasonably warm and dry fall conditions in many regions.

In Killington, Vermont, snowmaking efforts on the Superstar slope will allow this weekend’s Alpine World Cup races to occur. In Utah, crews are blowing heavy, dense snow to coat barren trails, since making artificial powder snow is less energy-efficient and the heavy stuff makes for a better base. 

In Summit County, Colorado, four ski resorts—Copper Mountain, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Arapahoe Basin—are relying almost entirely on man-made snow in order to open for the historically busy weekend. According to the Summit Daily, there are now 25 open ski trails between the four resorts—one more than was open in 2020 for Thanksgiving.

In Dillon, a town at the center of Summit County, the snowfall measures just five inches, compared to 10.9 inches at this time last year. Warm daytime temperatures have also forced resorts to make snow almost entirely at night.

Artificial snowmaking’s impact on the environment has become an annual concern, as more resorts now rely on man-made snow to overcome rising temperatures. Advancements in technology and techniques purport to limit snowmaking’s use of water and energy, but the practice still comes with a major impact: snowmaking systems tend to be the largest consumers of electricity at most ski resorts.

Making snow is also labor-intensive, and crews in Vermont typically work five 13-hour shifts each week. Perhaps that’s why some ski resorts cannot hire snowmakers quickly enough to meet demand this year.

And that storyline could receive global attention in the coming months. The upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will rely heavily on manufactured snow, as China’s National Alpine Ski Centre in Yanquing—site of the alpine ski and snowboard events—is currently bone-dry.

Triathlon’s First Black Female Pro

Head over to The New York Times and read Alanis Thames’ profile of Sika Henry, the first African American woman to earn her professional license in triathlon. The story chronicles Henry’s rise in the sport, and her efforts to overcome a terrifying bicycle crash in 2019 that nearly ended her career.

The story also examines triathlon’s struggles with diversity, something that other endurance sports also face. Less than 2 percent of USA Triathlon’s annual members are Black. One hurdle is access to triathlons. Another challenge is linked to swimming—research shows that drowning deaths among Black children are disproportionately high, which researchers tie to racial discrimination.

But efforts are underway to make triathlons less white. Dr. Tekemia Dorsey, USA Triathlon’s only Black female board member, spearheaded a program to start triathlon groups at historically Black colleges and universities.

Wipeout Wednesday

We encourage you to charge the Thanksgiving dinner spread like he charged this wave.

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