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How the Curling Ice in Beijing Was once Made for the Olympics

The men’s downhill track is all man-made snow in the otherwise barren mountains at the...

The men’s downhill track is all man-made snow in the otherwise barren mountains at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing center, site of the alpine events at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. A winter storm is expected to bring a rare snowfall to the Beijing region. Photo by Rick T. Wilking/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 12 (UPI) — A fresh helping of snow is on the way to the Beijing area, AccuWeather forecasters say, and it will likely provide a small but welcome boost to the athletes competing outdoors in the ongoing Winter Olympics.
“There has been a recent dry and mild stretch for the start of the Olympics in Beijing,” explained AccuWeather meteorologist Tony Zartman.

Located in the northeastern part of China, it is the climatological norm for Beijing to have drier conditions during the winter. In fact, less than 1 inch of rain or liquid snow equivalent is normal for the entire winter.
With the exception of some disruptions to the alpine skiing schedule caused by wind, the weather in the region has been fairly tame so far.

Since the Olympics began on Feb. 3, no wet weather has been reported, and temperatures have averaged about 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, with high temperatures many days surpassing 40 F.

However, more wintry weather is in the works for the Chinese capital city, as a storm moves into the region.
“A wave of cold, Siberian air is expected to push into the Olympic venues this weekend, accompanied by some snow,” said Zartman.

The fresh injection of cold air will bring high temperatures down from the well-above-freezing levels during the week, to stay below freezing from Sunday through early next week.
Snow moved into the region on Saturday, including in Zhangjiakou, where the mixed team snowboard cross event took place. Snow is expected to continue throughout the day Sunday before tapering off Sunday night. AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting a total of 1-3 inches of fresh snow by the time flakes stop falling, but higher elevations, like where many of the outdoor events are being held, could get closer to 6 inches. The last time accumulating snow fell on the city of Beijing was on Jan. 22, when less than an inch was recorded.
This fresh snow would be falling on an entirely artificial snow base, the first of its kind at a Winter Olympics. An artificial snow surface requires athletes to prepare differently for the competition, from equipment changes to anticipating a different snow surface, according to The New York Times.

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A slight uptick in wind is also expected as the winter storm descends on the city. While not expected to be as windy as earlier in the week, wind gusts could be near 30 mph at the higher-elevation skiing and snowboarding locations.
Through the weekend, almost a dozen skiing and snowboarding medal events are scheduled to take place. It’s not out of the question that the fresh snow or a slight increase in winds could adjust the conditions for the outdoor events. Should the conditions prove unsafe for the athletes, a postponement is also possible.
If one of the events were to be postponed, it would not be the first time the weather has impacted the 2022 Winter Olympics schedule. Wind gusts up to 40 mph blew over the National Alpine Ski Center on Feb. 6, forcing officials to postpone the men’s downhill event by one day.
Scientists fear that fresh snow will become a rarity at future Winter Olympics. A recent study found that global warming is likely to make only four of the previous 21 Winter Games host cities climate-reliable for hosting the games again by 2050.

Colby Stevenson of the USA competes during the men’s freeski big air final at the Shougang venue of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Wednesday. Stevenson won the silver medal. Photo by Paul Hanna/UPI | License Photo


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