Olympic Athletes: Save Our Winters

February 9, 2018


New York Times:

Jessie Diggins is a cross-country skier on the American women’s team and a favorite to win a medal at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. If she succeeds, it will be only the second time the United States has won a medal in the sport and the first for an American woman.

Diggins is also an advocate for climate action. I interviewed her to understand more about why she believes winter is worth protecting. (The following has been condensed and edited.)

How has climate change affected you?

Over the last 10 years, it has been hard to ski on real snow. Over the last three years, most venues have been exclusively on man-made snow. And in places like Davos, Switzerland, where they normally have three feet of snow, they’ve been snow farming and saving it for the next year because they don’t even count on getting snow anymore. I’ve spoken to people in Switzerland who are losing their jobs because winter’s going away.

How is skiing on man-made snow different?

It’s a little faster. So the same World Cup courses that we race get more and more dangerous with man-made snow because it gets icy. One of my teammates broke his leg on a corner on a course where it never should have been as fast as it was. Real snow, it feels softer. It’s not as hard when you fall.

What about people who say that fighting climate change is going to hurt the economy?

You can look at different solutions for the economy, but you only get one earth to live on, and you have to breathe the air that is on this earth. We have to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt families economically, which is why I’m supporting the carbon fee and dividend solution, because it puts a fee on carbon and returns the revenue to households.

What do you say to those who say, ‘You’re just an athlete, stay in your lane’?

I’m also someone who lives on this planet. I think you need to be able to stand up for things you believe in, and saving winter is something I believe in. It just breaks my heart because this is such a cool sport, and winter is so amazing and beautiful and I feel like we’re actually really at risk of losing it. And I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world where they’ve never experienced snow because we weren’t responsible enough.


4 Responses to “Olympic Athletes: Save Our Winters”

  1. KeenOn350 Says:

    Kind of ironic, isn’t it… these same winter athletes contribute more than their share to climate disruption / global warming, by flying all over the planet in search of snow to train on or compete on.

    Common practice for northern hemisphere skiers to fly into winter in South America for training camps during NH summer – talk about a carbon footprint!

    • greenman3610 Says:

      point taken – but in the larger scale of things, the global reliance on coal is far more impactful than global flying – although that is growing.
      I’ll be posting more in the future about electric aviation, which, incredibly,
      is a thing.

    • Lionel Smith Says:

      “talk about a carbon footprint!”

      I would hazard that the footprint there is less than the floodlit sports fixtures so prevalent around the globe and the flying of teams and supporters to matches in other countries. There is a whole range of sporting activities which have a large footprint.

      Another point WRT snow disappearing from the Alps is the increase in the rate of erosion, there are many other detrimental effects of course some mentioned in these articles:

      Alps — The impacts of climate change in Europe today


      Climate change: why the Alps are particularly affected

      The loss of water sourced from higher latitudes is going to impact peoples massively in the future.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Irony and hypocrisy rule! Don’t forget the carbon footprint from all the folks who fly to the tropics to go scuba diving on the beautiful reefs (which are dying because of global warming). Or the Northern Europeans who head to the Med, or the North Americans who head to the Caribbean each winter. Or the cruises being taken by everyone to everywhere for fun.

      As long as the wealthy rule, it’s not going to change—-they will continue to take more than their share and eat up the carbon budget. And coal? Its use will not decrease fast enough as long as the powers that be see money to be made from it.

      The water in the pot is heating up, and the frogs are having too much fun to notice.

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