Australia kicked out of Olympic Winter Games.

The Australian Olympic Winter Games team is in disarray after the the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forced it out of Beijing 2022 on the eve of competition.

Athletes, coaches and team officials were thrown out of the athletes village and onto planes bound for Australia just hours before the official opening ceremony, due to the appointment of Hancock Prospecting as a major sponsor of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC)

“Gina Rinehart and the mining activities of Hancock Prospecting threaten the very existence of the Olympic Winter Games,” began a brief statement from the IOC.

“Rinehart’s enormous fossil fuel mining and cattle farming businesses are major drivers of climate change. The subsequent accelerated warming is melting ice caps and creating less snow throughout the world.”

“Without snow, there is no Olympic Winter Games.”

The decision to announce Hancock Prospecting as the major sponsor of Australian Olympic teams until 2026 does not sit well with the IOC, and for this reason the Australian team was ordered out of the village, and out of the games. The governing body also disagrees with the decision to award Rinehart an Order of Australia (AO) in the recent Australia Day honours.

“The sponsorship arrangement also covers the Pacific Games in 2023, though there may not be many Pacific Island nations left in 2023 if Hancock Prospecting continues its climate destroying practices,” continued the statement.

The shock announcement denies any Australian athlete the opportunity to compete at the games, including those with realistic medal chances. The AOC was given no opportunity to appeal the decision.

International media has already highlighted the fact that the majority of the snow at Beijing 2022 is man-made.

“If the climate crisis continues, even man-made snow will not suffice for winter sports,” continued the IOC spokesperson. “Man-made snow is only effective if the ground is cold enough. If not, the snow simply melts, and conditions resemble late season skiing in Australia.”

The decision means that the Australian Olympic Committee is also banned from sending athletes to future competitions such as the summer and winter versions of the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games.

Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates refused to comment of the sudden decision, explaining that he was waiting for Gina to tell him what to say. Meanwhile, Minster for Sport Richard Colbeck said the decision was of no major concern, because Australia wins so few medals at such events compared to other countries, such as China and The USA, that Australia shouldn’t bother competing in the games at all. Plus, he prefers cricket.

Rinehart, meanwhile, was unfazed at the announcement and its motivation.

“Personally, I couldn’t care less if some young Aussie kid wins a medal for twirling themselves up in the air on a snowboard. I only threw some of my pocket money at this to keep sports-mad Aussies under my spell, and to stop them from forcing the government to take real action on climate change.

“It’s amazing what you can do to the Aussie people if you pretend to like sport.”

Image: Patrick Hamilton

Winter Olympic Games to be held in The Middle East.

The International Olympic Committee has made the astounding announcement that the 2030 Winter Olympic Games will be held in the desert, with Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE to co-host the first edition of the games to take place nowhere near a mountain.

When asked to explain the shock decision, the IOC stated bluntly,

“The world will run out of snow.”

“Climate change is warming the globe and melting snow and ice throughout the world, as well as making weather patterns unpredictable. Accurate scientific evidence tells us that there will not be enough deep natural snow on any of the world’s peaks in the near future. As a result, the IOC has been forced to move the prestigious event indoors where athletes will compete on man-made snow.”

The Gulf States were chosen to host the historic sporting event because they already have indoor winter sports facilities such as ice rinks and ski slopes. In addition, their main revenue source, oil, has contributed greatly to the climate crisis which has rendered outdoor competition impossible.

Indoor winter sports venues emulating Ski Dubai will be built throughout the host nations to cater for the vast array of sports which now comprise the Winter Olympic program. Some disciplines, however, look set to be scrapped from the games forever.

The change in venue will not affect sports such as Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Short Track, Speed Skating and Curling as they already take place indoors, but it will have major implications for the remaining disciplines.

“We have received assurance that Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton will still go ahead,” stated the spokesperson. “The roller coasters that are found in some shopping malls in this part of the world will be reconfigured to hold the sleighs used in these disciplines, allowing spectators to watch the competition from the food court.”

The IOC is also working with the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the host nations to construct suitable indoor venues for disciplines such as Aerial Skiing and Moguls, Ski and Snowboard Cross and Halfpipe, as well as snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom.

“Slopestyle may have to take place on the sand dunes,” conceded the spokesperson, “but at least it offers competitors an entirely new aesthetic for their Instagram posts.”

And what of the future of Big Air?

“Depends how big the airs are.”

Other traditional Winter Olympic disciplines face huge challenges as a result of the climate change induced move to the Middle East. Cross Country Skiing events and biathlon will be carried out on loop courses of 1 kilometre in length, meaning competitors in the 50km Cross Country race will be going round and round and round…

Biathlon competitors, meanwhile, will be forced to complete multiple laps of the 15 metre-long penalty loop every time they miss a target, reminiscent of athletes training during COVID-19 lockdown.

Alpine skiers who excel in the technical forms of the sport, such as Slalom and Giant Slalom, will notice little change to their events, except that they will take place indoors.

Downhill and Super G racers will unfortunately have to look for another sport.

“None of the venues will be tall enough to host a Downhill or Super G race,” stated organisers, “…and you can’t ski down the Burj Khalifa (yet)”

The IOC and FIS had initially considered simply starting downhill races further up mountains to find snow, but this proved unfeasible for many reasons.

“By 2030 snow will be found only on the very, very high mountains and the altitude will harm athletes who are already pushing their bodies to the limit. Also, electronic timing equipment may not work at such heights and the weather is a lot more extreme and unpredictable. Furthermore, chairlifts do not reach these heights, and nobody wants to ride a T Bar for that long. In addition helicopters used in broadcasting and medical emergencies can only fly so high”

As a result, downhill and Super G races will cease to exist in 2030 and beyond.

Critics of the plan argue the organisers should have simply used man-made snow on existing slopes, but organisers reminded them that snowmaking only works when the ground is cold enough.

“Global warming and climate change is heating the ground, so any man-made snow would simply melt, and this event is called the Winter Olympics, not the Muddy Olympics.”

Images: http://www.skimag.com, http://www.gettyimages.com

Australia kills the Winter Olympic Games.

The Winter Olympic Games will cease after 2022 as Australia’s rising carbon emissions rid the world of snow.

Australia has the world’s largest per-capita carbon emissions and is contributing massively to the climate crisis which is melting the snow and ice on which winter sports take place.

Australia’s carbon emissions come primarily from the fossil fuel industry and agriculture, and from the current Liberal National Party (LNP) which is a strong supporter of the fossil fuel industry and traditional agricultural methods.

The nation’s leaders showed little regard for the consequences of their policies, however.

“Why should Australia care about the Winter Olympics, we contribute to such a small percentage of the overall medal tally that it doesn’t matter to us if the games go ahead,” stated a spokesperson for the government of Australia.

“We’ve only ever won five gold medals, and one of those because all of the other skaters fell over.”

The current prime minister, Scott Morrison, famously took a lump of coal into parliament question time in support of coal mining, and Morrison won the 2019 federal election in which the climate crisis was a central issue. More than 50% of the voting public re-elected the party which supports the fossil fuel industry.

Australia’s overall carbon emissions have actually risen in recent years, and extreme weather events such as drought and bush fires are becoming worse. Furthermore, the government recently established the National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board to chart Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and instead of appointing members from a cross-section of the community, filled it largely with representatives from the fossil fuel industry who are campaigning to have taxpayers fund more projects in the coal and gas sector.

In recent years, the LNP has responded to criticism of its carbon footprint by arguing that Australia contributes so little to the total world emissions that taking action to reduce emissions is pointless.

The NSW state government, also LNP, recently approved the opening of new coal mines under Sydney’s water catchment, hoping to not only destroy the Winter Olympics, but to also destroy the water which Sydneysiders drink.

Winter sports athletes and those who work in the sector have been denied the right to speak about the issue, but the government assured them their futures are secure despite killing off their livelihood.

“They can always get a job down a mine.”

Image: Alex Lange

The Daily Double: Surf and Ski in one day.

Where in the world is it possible to surf and ski/snowboard in the same day?

I almost did it once, in Australia, but I can’t genuinely lay claim to having experienced this rare privilege of outdoor sports. I enjoyed a bodysurf somewhere on the far south coast of NSW, Australia, then drove with friends to the snowy mountains and hiked for a few hours that afternoon through patches of summer snow.

I know it doesn’t count but it made me curious and very keen to experience the real thing – a surf in the morning and a ski in the afternoon, or vice versa, as long as you see foam and powder before the sun sets. That said, with so many ski resorts offering night skiing under lights, you could ski in far away lands, or take your time in the waves before heading to the slopes.

California, USA

Southern California is home to great surfing beaches and snow-capped mountains. So blessed are the locals in this part of the world that surfing and skiing on the same day is known as the California Double or the Twofer.

One combo is Huntington Beach and Mountain High, which are about 90 minutes apart. Another popular double is Lower Trestles (San Clemente) to Bear Mountain. They are both enticing options on their own, and are just two hours apart – enough time to grab some tasty Mexican food on your way to the powder. You could also opt for Santa Monica to Mount Baldy, or Ocean Beach to Boreal Mountain Resort.

While you’re in Cali, you might be lucky enough to meet The Governator, or be discovered by a director and appear in a Hollywood blockbuster. The question is, are you cool enough to visit SoCal?

New Zealand

New Zealand is another nation blessed with a long coastline near steep mountains.

If you can handle wild and woolly weather and big swells, check out Raglan and Piha on the north island, as well as Boulders Bay, before driving for about an hour to Mt. Taranaki and the Manganui Ski Area. The South Island Twofer is doable at Taylor’s Mistake, a beach break near Christchurch, and Mt Hutt, just two hours away. At Mt Hutt, get ready to get vertical.

Chile

The thin mountainous nation of Chile offers quality waves and snow from June to October. When the temperature drops in the Southern Hemisphere, the Andes catch snow and the coast catches a swell.

Head to Valparaiso for a surf then up to Valle Nevado. The three-hour drive rewards you with waves and ski slopes. An extra hour in the car lets you ski at Nevado and surf at one of Chile’s most famous breaks, Pichilemu. For off-piste skiing and heli-skiing, try Nevado or La Parva, El Colorado and Farellones.

If you pack your passport, you could surf in Chile and ski in Argentina. Ski resorts such as Bariloche, Las Lenas and La Hoya share the same mountain range as the Chilean resorts. They are located near airports, so you could fly to the slopes from Santiago after a morning surf and a 1-2 hr bus ride from the coast.

For a real challenge, and a story to dine out on, ski at Cerro Castor, right at the southern tip of Argentina, and find some waves at the end of the world. You might need a dry suit and a rescue party on standby, because you’re almost surfing in Antarctica. Has this been done?

France

France is famous for elite skiers and wonderful ski resorts, and every surfer knows the name Biarritz. Fortunately, the surf beaches and the mountains are not too far apart.

When snow blankets the Alps and Pyrenees, the big swells arrive at breaks like Belharra. If you don’t want to stare death in the face at Belharra, or get lost in the crowds at Biarritz, pop over to the Basque Country to beaches such as Anglet, Hossegor or Guethary.

Australia

In theory, it’s possible.

Go for an early at a beach on the far south coast of NSW, or even into Victoria, then across to the snowy mountains which straddle the border between NSW and Victoria, for a late afternoon ski. It would be a very long day, and one destination where night skiing is an advantage.

Algeria

Algeria is an off-the-beaten track destination for both skiing and surfing, and an even more surprising destination for people looking to do both. It is possible. Surf break Decaplage is less than two hours drive from the ski resort of Chrea. This could be the best magical mystery tour of any of the destinations listed in this article – why not give it a go?

Morocco

Still in North Africa, Morocco has both surf and snow. Between January and late March consistent swell hits the North Atlantic along Morocco’s beach breaks and reef breaks, throwing up all kinds of waves.

Distance is the killer in the Moroccan daily double. The ski resort at Oukaimeden is a four-hour drive from the nearest beach at Essaouira, and about 5 hours from the most famous surf spot in Morocco, Taghazout. But, if you like long drives through the countryside, you can surf and ski in the same day in Morocco.

South Africa

At the other end of the continent, South Africa offers a daily double. Get in the green room at breaks such as Dunes, Crans, The Hoek and Pebbles near Cape Town, then travel for about 2 hours to the small ski resort of Matroosberg. On the Eastern Cape, be prepared for more driving, because the ski resort of Tiffindell is 6hrs from the coast. If you’re going to travel that far, why not cross a border and visit Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho, which is just a little bit further. It’s a tiny resort but it might be worth the passport stamp, and you could say that you completed the Twofer in a landlocked nation.

If your wish is to surf and see snow on the same day, you could do it in Taiwan. Taiwan catches snow in Taroko Gorge, Hehuanshan, Yushan and Xueshan, and most of these mountains are reachable by road and /or hiking. At some of them, you can sit in a hot spring instead of skiing. Is this also possible in Japan, Norway, Sweden or Iceland?

If you’re lucky enough to experience this double, it’s up to you where to go. It’s also up to you whether you ski or snowboard, or whether you ride a surf board, a body board or a SUP. You could don some skins and ski the back country if time permits, or spend hours showing off at the park with your selfie stick.

I don’t really think you qualify for a Twofer if you ride a goat boat through the waves before sliding down the snow on a toboggan. Personally, I also think it doesn’t count if you surf at a man-made wave pool, even if Kelly personally invites you, or ski at an indoor man-made slope.

To get back to the roots of surfing, grab some fins and enjoy body surfing – pure surfing.

If anyone has achieved this double, or knows of another place in the world where it is possible to surf and ski on the same day, let us know. Maybe one day in the future we will all be able to travel again and fill our days with surf and snow.

Images: Anton Repponen, Alex Lange

Taroko Gorge.

Taroko Gorge is spectacular. The crystal-clear waters of the Liwu River plunge from its towering peaks and support a vast array of plant and animal species which thrive in the varied tropical and alpine climates. Lush green rainforest juxtaposes with river stones and boulders smoothed by thousands of years of rain and snow melt.

Taroko National Park lies near Xiulin Township in Hualien County, Taiwan, (or Chinese Taipei? I guess it doesn’t matter, I don’t think the Chinese Communist Party will read this article).

Suspension bridges traverse its deep gorges, and set visitors’ hearts racing, especially when a young man reverts to adolescence and decides to shake the bridge as his girlfriend leaves the safety of dry land, leaving her less than impressed (I wonder if they’re still together). These bridges are often the only way to cross to the other side of some of the more challenging hiking trails.

Trails reward hikers with wonderful views of flowing aquamarine rivers and spectacular high peaks which reach into the clouds and are sometimes blanketed in snow. It’s a rare treat to travel from the humid tropical lowlands to mountains covered in snow in the space of a few hours. In fact, Taiwan may be one of the few places in the world where it is possible to see surf and snow on the same day.

Hikes range from mild short walks to beautiful waterfalls, to challenging multi-day treks across high peaks and precarious paths which plunge into the abyss.

A slow and careful trek through the rainforest reveals myriad plant and animal species which change dramatically in keeping with the changing terrain.

Tunnels bore through the mountains throughout the national park and add some mystery and excitement to any hike. Some of the tunnels are quite long and if you begin your hike without a torch, headlamp or mobile phone, you might find yourself wondering what awaits you in the dark, damp depths of the tunnel.

The gorge is vast, and offers so many sites worth exploration. For that reason, a few days and a vehicle are recommended. A bicycle would suffice for the fit and adventurous, and Taiwan is a very cycle-friendly country. However, the hills are steep and the hiking is spectacular, so exploring the gorge by bicycle may be too arduous for some. A motorised vehicle of some sort would allow for deeper exploration of the various hiking trails, and is advisable for those staying inside the national park, or at one of the accommodation providers near the entrance to the national park.