What is the “ski shame”, the shame of skiing?

You’ve probably heard of the shame of flying, given the environmental impact of air travel. During this winter holiday season, a new form of shame takes over that creates a lot of guilt among Austrian skiers: the ski sham. We explain it to you.

Ah vacation in the mountains! The raclette evenings, the breathtaking view of the peaks and the gliding sessions on the powder snow… Behind the cheerful image of holidays in the snow, there is also an ecological reality. First, there is transportation to transport skiers to their resort. According to Domaines skiables de France, this item is responsible for 57% of greenhouse gas emissions from a stay in the mountains. The balance also increases with the energy production of all forms of accommodation, up to 35%. On the slopes, it is rather the slopes that are chosen that generate 94% of a ski resort’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some numbers leading to Austria becoming aware of the ecological impact of skiing. There the massifs, lower than in France, are artificially snowed up to 66%. A reality that some skiers no longer want to participate in, to the point of being ashamed of it. For example, the Austrian press has been conveying a new feeling in recent days: the ski sham; “shame” is a term derived from the Germanic root “skamo”, which means “shame” or “disgrace”. The newspaper Die Press explains that some skiers are embarrassed when they think “about the climate and the snowmaking.”

In France, if often considered a symbol of the heavy environmental impact of winter sports, snowmaking accounts for only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, with ski lifts, according to Greenly, a carbon footprint calculator. According to the professional chamber of ski resort operators, 25 million m3 of water is absorbed during the production of this artificial snow and returned to the natural environment. This corresponds to 0.5 m3 of water per ski day.

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