Warmer temps affecting University of Minnesota winter sports
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Warmer weather is affecting some winter sports at the University of Minnesota.
Higher temperatures cause more snowmelt and shorter ski seasons. Two seasons ago, the university's Nordic ski team could not participate in the American Birkebeiner in northwestern Wisconsin, which was canceled because of warm weather.
Gopher winter sports are off to a better start this season, but the team still feels the effects of warmer winters.
Grant Halvorson, president of the university's Nordic ski team, said cross-country courses have to make more artificial snow because of light-snow winters. That increases the cost for team members who want to race.
"Most of the fees come from buying the artificial snow equipment, so that usually gets reflected in the race fees," Halvorson said. While club dues have not increased, individual cross-country skiers who want to race have had to pay more, he said.
Ski courses are adapting as Minnesota winters grow warmer and learning how to better prepare for warmer conditions.
"Lots of the courses around the (Twin) cities have artificial snow, and that's pretty recent for the cross country community," Halvorson said.
The university's Alpine ski team is faring better, the Minnesota Daily reported. The president of the downhill ski team, Jack Nermyr, said he's not too worried, because of ski resorts' ability to make artificial snow.
"The no-snow thing isn't the biggest issue," Nermyr said. He said his team starts practicing around winter break, and the team's season is short.
Nermyr said a bigger issue would be warm winters. If temperatures are in the mid- to upper-30s or higher, ski resorts can't make snow, so the team can't practice, he said. His team's worst-case scenario would be higher temperatures in December and early January, Nermyr said.
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