“Climate change is here. It’s happening. We’re living in it right now. It’s not something that’s going to be in the distant future. It’s here. And you see it with the fires in California, floods in Europe, higher snow levels, shorter winters, longer summers, droughts. It runs the whole gamut. Everywhere in the world is having some effect from it. And there’s not really any turning back,” said Travis Ganong, a 33-year-old from California going to China with the U.S. ski team.

Ski racers settling into the start gate for Alpine World Cup events in the Rocky Mountains in early December squinted through sunshine that carried the temperature toward 50 degrees and glanced down at a course covered with pristine — and manufactured — snow, AP reports.

If they looked up and across the way, beyond the finish line, they saw adjacent hills that were brown and barren as can be, with nary a trace of powder or any indication that this was a setting for athletes who would be heading to the Beijing Olympics that begin Feb. 4.

It is a troubling reality and — given their own reliance on the production of snow, continent-hopping flights powered by diesel fuel and other environment-unfriendly offshoots of their careers — hard-to-reconcile push-and-pull for many of those who will be competing in Alpine skiing or freestyle skiing or snowboarding or Nordic combined events or other outdoor sports that helped put the disappearing “Winter” in Winter Games.

“ Climate change is here. It’s happening. We’re living in it right now. It’s not something that’s going to be in the distant future. It’s here. And you see it with the fires in California, floods in Europe, higher snow levels, shorter winters, longer summers, droughts. It runs the whole gamut. Everywhere in the world is having some effect from it. And there’s not really any turning back,” said Travis Ganong, a 33-year-old from California going to China with the U.S. ski team.

“Selfishly, I hope winters are here in the future,” he said. “But it’s not looking good.”

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