Environmental anger over early start to ski season

It's still October, so as you might expect the Austrian Alps are still green.

But in the ski resort of Kitzbuehel, a solitary white strip of snow has emerged.

They kept the snow from last winter, making an early start to the season possible.

The 700 meters-long piste has angered environmentalists though, who say storing the snow during the summer is a waste of energy.

Georg Kaltschmid is a state parliamentarian from the Tyrol Green Party.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) STATE PARLIAMENTARIAN FROM THE TYROL GREEN PARTY, GEORG KALTSCHMID, SAYING:

"You can't say anything if at the beginning of a season, mid-December, the slopes are prepared, because there is no natural snow there. We're in a region where you just have to admit, because of climate change, the start of the season and the natural snow will probably come later and later. And there we have a little bit more understanding. But in October to set up a piste, a Disneyland in the Tyrolean Alps, we have no understanding at all."

But the president of Bergbahn AG Kitzbuhel, Josef Burger, has defended the October start, saying the recycled snow doesn't affect climate change - and it would be more costly to create artificial snow if enough doesn't fall.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) PRESIDENT OF BERGBAHN AG KITZBUEHEL, JOSEF BURGER, SAYING:

"Recycling is sought after and can be found in all areas. We do that here, we recycle the snow. Instead of letting it melt and then having to costly produce it again, we conserve the snow. We do not waste the snow, we use the snow."

The arguments over the rights and wrongs may be heating up, but for skiing enthusiasts, the cold stuff has arrived - a little earlier than usual.