Last Tuesday, seventeen professional athletes and snow sports brands arrived in Washington for a day of meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill – focused on climate change and it’s effect on our business and sport. In the past, POW had taken a much smaller group to these meetings, but this year, the group expanded to include some of the most influential snow athletes and brands, making a remarkable statement about climate advocacy from the winter sports community. And despite the government shutdown, a large group of lawmakers made it a priority to meet with the group and discuss this pressing issue.
The goal was to support President Obama’s climate plan, specifically advocating to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Carbon Pollution Standard released on September 20th. With 40% of all carbon emissions coming from power plants, restricting these emissions could be a major step forward in the fight against climate change.
This the first time that such a diverse and influential group from snow sports has spent time in Washington to call for action against climate change and it was incredibly powerful. In the past, separate groups from winter sports have visited Washington, but this collaborative effort was a statement of unity from a $66 billion industry in the cross hairs of climate change: athletes, brands and resorts providing their unique perspective of climate change and their massive impact on the winter tourism economy. Winter tourism generates $12.2 billion in revenue annually, supports 212,000 jobs and $7 billion in salaries
Starting at 8 am, the group moved from office to office, meeting with Senators from winter tourism-depenedent states such as Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), John Tester (MT), Max Baucus (MT), Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders (VT) and Henry Waxman (CA). We also met with Chief of Staffs from Senators such as Rob Portman (OH), Michael Bennet (CO), Edward Markey (MA), Patty Murray (WA) and Angus King (ME). It was an incredibly full day of of meetings and without a doubt, our group, with their unique perspective and economic impact, was able to break through with even the toughest Senators. In many cases, it seems as though the shared passion of skiing, snowboarding and our winter season was the common denominator amongst all of us – which set the stage for cordial and productive conversations.
This visit was also a show of commitment from everyone involved that climate change is something that’s not going away and needs to be address by all of us, and an example to the greater snow sports community that nobody is exempt from doing their part and making a difference. Each of these athletes took time away from their training schedules, and the brands from their busy schedules to put on suits and spend time on Capitol Hill because this is something that they truly believe is important – for the health of our local communities, for our industry and our sport. They’re putting actions before words and we can’t thank each of them enough.
The delegation in Washington
Conrad Anker, professional mountaineer and author, The North Face & Board member, Protect Our Winters
Donna Carpenter, President, Burton Snowboards
Auden Schendler, Vice President, Sustainability, Aspen Skiing Company, Board Chair, Protect Our Winters
Ryan Gellert, Brand President, Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., Board member Protect Our Winters
Tyler Lamotte, Global Business Unit Director, Patagonia
Matt OLaughlin, Senior Design Engineer, K2 Skis
David Ingemie, President, SnowSports Industries America
Penn Newhard, Partner Backbone Media, vice chair, Protect Our Winters
Gretchen Bleiler, Olympian, professional snowboarder, board member Protect Our Winters
Chris Davenport, professional skier, mountaineer, board member Protect Our Winters
Callan Sifsof, Olympian, professional snowboarder
Forrest Shearer, professional snowboarder,
Meg Olenick, professional skier. Member US Ski Team
Seth Wescott, Olympian, professional snowboarder
Danny Davis, professional snowboarder
Angel Collinson, professional skier
John Jackson, professional snowboarder