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Science

Skiers Seek Climate Change Moves: ‘The Seasons Have Shifted’

February 13, 2023

COURCHEVEL, France — Overall World Cup winners Mikaela Shiffrin, Federica Brignone and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde are among nearly 200 athletes from multiple disciplines who have signed a letter addressed to the International Ski and Snowboard Federation demanding action over climate change.

The letter was delivered during the skiing world championships after warm weather and a lack of snow wiped out nearly a month of racing at the start of this season, with preseason training on melting European glaciers heading toward extinction and the impact of climate change on the schedule being seen even in January.

“It’s about time to address a really important topic,” Kilde said after earning a silver medal in downhill on Sunday. “We see that the world is changing. We see also the impact of our sport. … I want the future generations to experience winter and to be able to do what I do.”

The letter was written by Austrian downhiller Julian Schütter, an ambassador for the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters, known as POW.

“We are already experiencing the effects of climate change in our everyday lives and our profession,” the athletes said in the letter. “The public opinion about skiing is shifting towards unjustifiability. … We need progressive organizational action. We are aware of the current sustainability efforts of FIS and rate them as insufficient.”

Olympic cross-country skiing champion Jessie Diggins and Freeride World Tour champions Arianna Tricomi and Xavier de le Rue were also among the letter’s signees.

“This is our most important race, let’s win it together,” the athletes said.

In terms of Alpine skiing, the athletes asked the federation, known as FIS, to shift the start of the season from late October to late November and the end of the season from mid-March to late April.

“The seasons have shifted and in the interest of us all we need to adapt to those new circumstances,” they said.

Racers also requested a more “geographically reasonable” race schedule to reduce carbon emissions, citing how the men’s circuit will have traveled from Europe to North America and back twice by the end of this season.

“The races of Beaver Creek in November and those in Aspen in February are 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from each other,” the skiers said, referring to the two Colorado resorts. “Planning those two races one after the other would reduce approximately 1,500 tons of (carbon emissions).”

The athletes also asked FIS to create a sustainability department.

There was no immediate response from FIS.

 

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