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Snow shortage threatens Alps with wet winter season

They have been holding their breath in the Swiss resort of Adelboden, as New Year temperatures in Switzerland hit a record 20C - the highest ever north of the Alps in January.

Many wondered if next weekend's ski World Cup would go ahead, as the usual snowy slopes were mud and grass.

Even at 2,000m (6,500ft), the temperature was above freezing.

In the end, the famous Chuenisbärgli piste has been approved for use for the big slalom events.

It took the help of an army of snow cannon, as well as a slight drop in temperature at the top of the run. But when the world's top men's skiers hurtle across the finish line, they will be on artificial snow.

Across the Alps, the unseasonably warm wet weather has put a real damper on the start of the ski season.

The word for it here is Schneemangel or snow shortage. There's a phrase for when the snow is plentiful too - das weisse Gold - white gold. It's a reflection of how many alpine communities depend on winter sports for their livelihoods.

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