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February 05, 2014

Climate Champions Going for Gold

image from http://aviary.blob.core.windows.net/k-mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp-14020517/c23ba36d-bef8-42f6-a56f-22e96992904c.png
                                             Olympians Jamie Anderson (left) and Hannah Teter                                                                                                        Photos courtesy of NBC Olympics and USOC

President Obama said it best last week in his State of the Union address: "Climate change is a fact."

Few people know this better than winter athletes. Since climate disruption started drastically affecting the weather and the seasons, these athletes have seen winters with extreme weather ranging from Arctic cold temperatures to seasons so warm that no snow could fall.

When your livelihood depends on consistently cold temperatures year after year, it's not hard to see how climate disruption is a major problem.

But if you think these winter athletes are just going to let climate disruption take away their favorite season, think again.

In 2007, pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones started Protect Our Winters (POW), an organization dedicated "to engag[ing] and mobiliz[ing] the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. [Its] focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and the support of community-based projects."

In April of last year, POW sent a letter signed by 75 professional winter athletes and Olympians to President Obama urging him to move toward renewable energy sources, put carbon limits on power plants, scrap the Keystone XL pipeline, and stop climate change in its tracks.

"As professional athletes, representing a community of 23 million winter sports enthusiasts, we're witnessing climate change first-hand," the letter states. "[2012] was the warmest year on record, and once again, we're currently experiencing another winter season of inconsistent snow and questionable extremes. Without a doubt, winter is in trouble."

But they didn't just stop there. Most recently, POW has launched the Riders Alliance, a group composed of 53 snowsports athletes from around the world who are dedicated to combating climate disruption and saving the snow.

To top it all off, 13 of these climate champions will be representing Team USA in the upcoming Olympic games. Jamie Anderson, Danny Davis, Alex Deibold, Kaitlyn Farrington, Arielle Gold, Chas Guldemond, Nate Holland,  Lindsey Jacobellis,  Devin Logan, Julia Mancuso, Steven Nyman, Kikkan Randall, and Hannah Teter are some of the greenest athletes competing for the red, white, and blue.

As the Olympics approach, the Riders Alliance, in conjunction with the Yale School of Forestry, will work to call attention to climate disruption at one the world's largest winter sports events. Five graduate students from the Yale program will travel to Sochi to make sure climate disruption "is part of the conversation, where it should be."

You can do your part to help these students and athletes make a difference in the fight to end climate disruption. As you watch the Olympic games, start a conversation about the cost climate disruption has on our winters. Tell your friends and family. Get the word out using Twitter and Facebook.

And make sure you support these athletes and Team USA by watching their competitions starting February 7. Let's cheer on our Olympic-sized environmental champions as they go for the gold.

Here's a quick viewing guide, so you can watch them compete and tweet your support:

Chas Guldemond;  @ChasGuldemond

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Men's Slopestyle

Date: Saturday, Feb. 8

 

Jamie Anderson;  @Jme_Anderson

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Ladies' Slopestyle

Date: Sunday, Feb. 9 

 

Steven Nyman; @BelieveinSteven

Sport: Alpine Skiing

Event: Men's Downhill and Men's Super Combined

Date: Sunday, Feb. 9 and Friday, Feb. 14

 

Julia Mancuso; @JuliaMancuso

Sport: Alpine Skiing

Event: Women's Super Combined and Women's Downhill

Date: Monday Feb. 10 and Wednesday, Feb.12

 

Danny Davis; @theDDeadshow

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Men's Halfpipe

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11

 

Devin Logan; @dlogan

Sport: Freeskiing

Event: Ladies' Ski Slopestyle

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11

 

Kikkan Randall@kikkanimal

Sport: Cross-Country Skiing

Event: Ladies' Sprint Free

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11

 

Kaitlyn Farrington; @KaitlynFarr

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Ladies' Halfpipe

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 12

 

Arielle Gold; @arielletgold

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Ladies' Halfpipe

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 12

 

Hannah Teter; @hannahteter

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Ladies' Halfpipe

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 12

 

Lindsey Jacobellis; @LindsJacobellis

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Ladies' Snowboard Cross

Date: Sunday, Feb. 16

 

Alex Deibold; @adeibold

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Men's Snowboard Cross

Date: Monday, Feb. 17

 

Nate Holland; @N8Holland

Sport: Snowboarding

Event: Men's Snowboard Cross

Date: Monday, Feb. 17

-- Cindy Carr, Sierra Club Media Team

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