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February 19, 2014

Green Is Gold: Climate Champions Win Big For Team USA

Photo by the Sierra Club

Our climate champions have proven they've got hearts of gold. And now they have the bling to match.

While the Sochi games will continue the rest of this week, the Protect Our Winters (POW) Olympians have finished their competitions, and five of the Olympic champions who raised their voices against climate disruption medaled for Team USA.

Jamie Anderson and Kaitlyn Farrington won the gold medal in Ladies' Slopestyle and Ladies' Halfpipe, respectively. Devin Logan won silver in Ladies' Ski Slopestyle, and Julia Mancuso and Alex Deibold won bronze in Women's Super combined Alpine Skiing and Men's Snowboard Cross, respectively.

Our green athletes have won a quarter of Team USA's total medals, helping the United States to rank in the top five countries in medal count, all while promoting climate change advocacy.

And they aren't alone. More than 100 international athletes recently signed on to a letter written by Olympic cross-country skier Andy Newell, and even more joined the POW Riders Alliance. All have the same goal: to raise awareness of climate disruption and the toll it takes on our winters.

"Snow conditions are becoming much more inconsistent, weather patterns more erratic, and what was once a topic for discussion is now reality and fact," Newell wrote. "Our climate is changing, and we are losing our winters."

Scientists have been warning for years that climate disruption leads to more severe and inconsistent weather -- like the recent Polar Vortex that gripped most of the U.S., following years without much snowfall at all. In fact, if climate disruption continues at this alarming rate, more than half of the cities that have already hosted the winter Olympics, including Sochi, will be too warm to host again.

Winter Olympians worldwide are working to protect the season they cherish the most, and their environmental advocacy won't end with the closing ceremony. POW and its Riders Alliance are dedicated to fighting climate disruption and protecting the winter season for generations to come.

"The image of a two-year-old boy experiencing his first backyard ski at Christmas, just like I once did, is becoming more and more rare," Newell continued. "[...] The continued loss of snow is only the beginning, and unless changes can be made at a federal level, it will be more than our skiing that's at stake."

The Olympians are hoping to grab the attention of world leaders heading into another international setting -- the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris.

"We can't risk inaction any longer, and we're asking our world leaders to come together in the spirit of something bigger than just our individual goals," Newell concluded. "On behalf of the more than 100 Olympians who have signed this letter, we're urging you to act in Paris to set limits on global emissions and take meaningful steps forward in fighting climate change."

--Cindy Carr, Sierra Club Media Team

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