Snow-Making Expert From Wenatchee On The Clock In Sochi, Preparing For Olympics

Jan 22, 2014

In order for the Winter Olympics to take place in Sochi, Russia, there must be snow.

One Northwest snow-making expert has been working at the Russian resort zone for nearly two months now, helping ensure a snow-covered Olympics.

Jon Wax’s regular job is snow-making manager at the Mission Ridge ski area outside Wenatchee. He landed a temporary job making snow for the 2014 Winter Olympics through industry connections.

Wax is now with an international team of snow-making experts and technicians in Sochi. He calls it "a chance of a lifetime."

"It's the same equipment that Mission Ridge uses. It's just a much, much larger scale — many more machines, massive pumping capacity. It's really pretty humbling. When it's running, it's quite incredible,” he said of his work at Sochi.

Wax has been making snow in 12-hour shifts with just one rest day each week. The 42-year-old says this assignment has had its wild moments and close calls.

“Being out in unfamiliar territory on snowmobiles in snow storms with low visibility, there's never really lack of excitement. But that's why we love it. That's why we do it,” he said.

Wax says the international team has mostly achieved its goal of covering the competition venues with "150 percent" of the needed snow. But just like here at home, Mother Nature has been fickle in the Sochi region this winter. Wax worries about warm weather and untimely rain.

"Right now, the Games could go off, but we're looking to produce some more if given the opportunity, just as insurance,” he said.

Wax predicts once people see the games unfold, "they'll be impressed." He'll be watching the events on TV, just like the rest of us. He says he expects to be sent home shortly before the games begin, provided the snowpack looks good at that point.