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Sochi will stockpile this year’s snow for next year’s Winter Olympics

Jay Busbee
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Construction continues at the Rosa Khutor resort in Sochi. (Getty Images)

More than money or sponsors or amazing stories or even athletes, the Winter Olympics needs one thing: snow. So now that there are fears of a mild winter that could complicate the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russian officials are taking extreme precautions: they're stockpiling this year's snow to prepare for next year's Games.

"Storing snow from the 2012-2013 season will allow us to avoid the risk of insufficient natural snow quantities or anomalous temperatures next season," said a statement from the Rosa Khutor resort. "The 450,000 cubic meters of 'last year's' snow is the volume that will guarantee the necessary covering on the slopes of Rosa Khutor, even in the worst weather conditions."

Now, you might wonder about how exactly the resort will store the snow through the summer; this isn't like keeping a snowball in the freezer to whip at your unsuspecting friends in July, after all. There will be multiple on-site reservoirs to handle the snow, at a total cost of 250 million rubles, or about $8 million.

Kidding aside, warm temperatures are one of several very real concerns about the Sochi Games (as well as suspect construction timetables, infrastructure concerns, spiraling costs, and charges of mind-boggling corruption). Warm temperatures this year meant that several test events couldn't be held. More than two dozen events involving Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboard, will be held at Rosa Khutor. The skiing courses are a total of 20 kilometers, and the resort will handle 10,000 spectators, according to reports.

The Games are scheduled to start February 7, 2014.

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