Big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones will be meeting with President Obama this week in Washington, D.C., to discuss climate change and its impact on the snowsports industry.
Jones, the founder of the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW), has been nominated as a White House Champion Of Change, an award given by the President to 12 people who are taking on leadership roles in the climate-change arena.
Jones, along with POW Executive Director Chris Steinkamp, will be joining the other nominees for a reception in D.C. on Thursday.
"This is probably the best opportunity we've had to put the winter-sports community front and center with policy makers in Washington," Jones said. "We're overdue on this kind of access, and each time we go to Washington we drill a bit deeper. It doesn't get much better than having an audience at the White House."
While he's there, Jones plans to deliver a letter signed by 75 top ski and snowboard athletes that urges the President to follow through on his promises to pursue climate-change legislation.
In addition to Jones, the letter has been signed by Chris Davenport, Julia Mancuso, Gretchen Bleiler, Ingrid Backstrom, Hana Beaman, Kikkan Randall, Kevin Pearce, Elena Hight and more.
"As professional athletes, representing a community of 23 million winter-sports enthusiasts, we're witnessing climate change first-hand," the letter reads. "Last year 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."
Added Jones, "This nomination is an absolute honor for me and the work we're doing at POW. But it's now my responsibility to take this recognition and help secure a place in the climate discussions in Washington. The letter that's been enthusiastically signed by so many amazing athletes is a strong showing of solidarity from the leaders in snow sports on climate action, so together we have to keep that momentum going."
The letter references POW's Jobs Report, which was released last December and detailed the economic impact that warming temperatures are having on the snow industry. The letter also urges the President to take action on the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline and the EPA regulations on coal plants.
"This meeting is so important because winter sports is often overlooked in Washington in regards to our impact on the economy and what would be lost with more unpredictable winters," Steinkamp told XGames.com.
According to POW's Job Report, 23 million people participated in winter sports last year, supporting 212,000 jobs and bringing $12 billion in economic value to the U.S. economy.
"Since we're being so heavily outspent by the fossil-fuel lobby, it's up to us to take every opportunity we can to let Washington know that climate change means not just the loss of our sport, but thousands of lost jobs and a massive winter-sports industry," said Steinkamp. "This is one of those perfect opportunities to make ourselves heard and help drive a policy shift."
Jones has been to the nation's capital on several previous occasions to meet with lawmakers regarding climate change. In May, Jones plans to return to Washington, D.C., with other snowsports athletes.