This past election season went off the rails, with environmental issues taking a backseat to email scandals and locker room talk. That, along with other hurdles, has the Federal Government struggling to make “going green”a reality. Fortunately, some stalwart ski enthusiasts are holding it down, eye on the bigger picture, doing their part to help the environment. They like what you like – snow and lots of it. They aim to secure the future of the sport in varying ways, as detailed below.
In addition to the groups listed here, many ski resorts are also environmentally proactive, with their own initiatives ranging from the use of renewable energy to the elimination of plastic bottles. The groups below do not belong to any one resort, they represent the endusers – the skiers and riders. Here is a sampling of what is being done, in the name of sustaining the sport of skiing.
Protect Our Winters (POW):
Founder: Jeremy Jones, Professional Snowboarder
Inaugural year: 2007
Cool factor: Taking their prioritize-the-planet message all the way to Washington and spreading the word with the help of beer (New Belgium) and ice-cream (Ben & Jerry’s).
Originally put together by a group of passionate snowboarders who were concerned about the direction of climate change, it quickly morphed into a group with political clout, especially when they started talking about the economic implications. Together with the Natural Resources Defense Council they put out a study in 2012 called Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States. Today POW continues to focus on climate activism with a strong social movement, backed by 60+million outdoor sports enthusiasts.
“Protect Our Winters is a passionate crew of diehards, professional athletes and industry brands mobilizing the outdoor sports community to lead the charge towards positive climate action. We focus on educational initiatives, political advocacy and community-based activism.”
Save Our Snow Foundation (SOS):
Founder: Allison Gannett, World Champion Extreme Freeskier/Professional Mountain Biker
Inaugural year: 2006
Cool factor: She crushes it like a BOSS in so many areas plus finds the time to fight like a warrior for the environment.
“Our mission – to demonstrate that solutions to climate change can be cost-effective, actually increasing profitability while reducing pollution, increasing energy security and green sector jobs, while also saving our snowpack and our planet’s ecosystems.”
The accolades bestowed on Allison are as numerous as they are impressive: Ski Magazine’s Ski Hero of the Year, National Geographic’s Woman Adventurer of the Year, Big Mtn Freeskiing Champion-Canada, South America+Japan, Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time” Freeskier Magazine’s “FreeSkier of the Year” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of theYear” next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In terms of the environment – she has numerous awards there as well including: “designing/building the first straw home in a National Historic District, creating the world’s first solar SUV, fighting fracking for natural gas, and creating local food infrastructures.”
Mountain Riders Alliance (MRA):
Founders: Dave Scanlan, Jamie Schectman, & Shanie Matthews; Impassioned Skiers, Stewards of the Environment
Inaugural year: 2010
Cool factor: Took a hobby (skiing) and devised a business model (save resorts) to propel the ski industry to the next level of sustainability – the version where Mother Nature doesn’t get throat-punched.
Creating sustainable mountain playgrounds is the theme and tagline to this organization, out to change the way ski areas are run. They work with smaller mountain areas, keeping local interests in mind and always with a rider-centric bent. One example of their creative vision – installing on-site energy generators, such as wind turbines or solar panels, then selling the energy produced to local utility companies, off-setting their total expenses and providing year-round income.
“The mission of Mountain Rider’s Alliance is to develop values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that encourage minimal carbon footprint business practices, while making a positive impact in the local community.
MRA is setting the new industry standard for sustainably managed mountain playgrounds geared toward preserving our natural resources, as well as setting an example for responsible environmental behavior.”