As the Sochi Winter Olympics approach, Russian organizers are pulling out all the stops to generate snow in the drought-plagued mountains. Dozens of shamans have reportedly been asked to pray for powder to insure good conditions come February. But, if the snow gods don’t answer to the shamans, Russia has installed an enormous backup system, including more than 550 snow machines, according to reports from NPR.
Concerns for good snow in this year’s Olympics are valid; many of the alpine events are being hosted just 30 miles from Sochi, a town with palm trees and beaches on the coast of the Black Sea. That said, snowmaking technology has come so far, events now don’t have to worry too much about natural snow.
At Rosa Khutor, a location that will host many of the snow sport events, SMI Snowmakers out of Michigan were part of the team contracted to build the advanced snow machine. The system includes two man-made lakes and has the ability to adjust to weather.
"If they do see a cold snap coming in, even if it's only for a few hours, they can go ahead and start more than 100 machines and get the pumping plant going all within, say, a matter of minutes," VanderKelen, of SMI Snowmakers, said.
Even if the shamans fail, and the snow machines don’t work, Sochi organizers have been saving snow under insulated blankets from last winter that can used at any time.