Big-time events like the Winter X-Games and the Winter Olympics bring the best in competition snowboarding to mainstream audiences, chalking up bigger and bigger viewership each year. But global warming could see the biggest, and most important, mainstream crossover yet. As the impacts of climate change -- economic, social, and environmental -- are starting to hit home in governments around the world, the importance of regular and "normal" winters are starting to be seen as a critical issue, beyond the snowsports world.
Jeremy Jones, way more on the fringe than Shaun White or Kelly Clark, has become a de-facto representative of snowboarding on the topic of shrinking winters. In probably the most high-profile example of snowboarding making its combined experience with the winter environment known to the "real" world, Jones, legendary big-mountain rider and founder of Protect Our Winters, lead a snow sports coalition to Capitol Hill January 27th. The group screened "Generations," the recent POW, TGR and The North Face short film on climate change and the snow sports culture for lawmakers, Congressmen, Senators and staff.
I recently got the chance to catch up with Jones after his Capitol Hill trip. The point of the meeting, he said, was to represent the impact of climate change on the snow sports lifestyle and economy, and ask Senators to pass the climate change legislation that passed Congress last year, and is now up for vote in Senate.
"It passed in Congress, and up until recently we thought it would pass in the Senate," Jones says about the Climate bill. "But now it seems to be hanging in the balance -- what we do in the next 60 days will determine if we were successful or not."
Jones said his group met with welcome interest from Congressmen and Senators. "They see lobbyists from big oil and dirty energy all the time, but seeing an organized group of outdoor enthusiast was a breadth of fresh air for them." Arguably snowboarding's most prominent big-mountain rider, with a resume of some of the most hair-raising lines put down in snowboarding's history, I still had to ask if getting up in front of an audience like this made Jones nervous at all.
The preparation and focus needed to address members of the Congress and Senate has a similar intensity as preparing for a big line. But, the mistakes are not life or Death on Capitol Hill.
"The preparation and focus needed to address members of the Congress and Senate has a similar intensity as preparing for a big line," Jones explains. "But, the mistakes are not life or Death on Capitol Hill like they can be on critical lines -- this made sleeping the night before Capitol Hill much easier then the night before stepping to a big line."
Coalitions and new experiences aside, Jones emphasizes the critical nature of shredders speaking up, and swinging the vote on the first climate change legislation in US history.
"Our membership base has gotten big enough for us to potentially make a difference on key issues like the current Climate Bill on the table," Jones says about Protect Our Winters. "We can hopefully be a collective voice for all outdoor enthusiasts, and show that the status quo is not acceptable, and that we want to see real change with our country's policy on pollution."
To find out what states are on the fence, and to send a letter asking your state Senator, or the Senator from a state that you ride in, to pass the climate change legislation, check out POW's climate bill website www.sixtydaysto.org