Through a Skier’s Eyes: Global Warming

There’s a good story in The Toronto Star today about the point where the ski wax hits the snow. Or doesn’t, as it happens…

Two of Canada’s best winter athletes, the alpine skier Thomas Grandi and his Olympic silver-medallist wife, cross-country star Sara Renner, have outed themselves. They are environmentalists. They have a broad social consciousness that may have been pricked by their chosen sports, but which extends far beyond the winter playground to a greater concern for the way we live, especially in the wealthy Western hemisphere.

Grandi’s World Cup season is in jeopardy because of a lack of snow. Snow-making (and preserving) equipment is now critical to international meets, though it was rarely needed two decades ago. Many of the world’s top cross-country ski teams train together now because there are so few places with reliable snow cover. Renner skied through a driving rain at a meet well above the Arctic circle in Finland this year. The United Nations even proclaimed it a few years ago: skiers may be an endangered species.

What’s encouraging about Renner and Grandi is that they see beyond their sport. Athletes are young and they are focused. Elite competitors often live narrow and self-interested lives, and may be required to do so by coaches and associations that insist on Olympian levels of concentration as a prerequisite to success. But here’s the thing: especially for athletes in the well-paid professional ranks, how do they fill the other 18-20 hours a day beyond their training and competition? How much X-Box can they reasonably be expected to play?

No problem for these Canadian stars. They’ve seen An Inconvenient Truth. Not only do they know who David Suzuki is, they’re working with him on a public- awareness campaign on greenhouse gases and climate change. Their sport, and the industry and municipalities that support it are threatened. But for Thomas Grandi and Sara Renner, it’s not just about sport, either. They work hard – biking, cutting household energy use, buying sustainably – to reduce their own environmental footprints, and they even purchase carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gases produced when they must fly or drive. It’s everybody’s air; it’s everybody’s water, they say.

Bully for them for saying it, and for walking their talk. Now, when Sidney Crosby starts to express public concern for the increasing difficulty in building an outdoor rink, or when LeBron James begins to buy back the carbon offsets for his basketball road trips, we’ll know that the jock world is waking up to smell the global warning. (It’s about Climate Change, smarty!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *