How the Snow-Sports Community is Pushing the Limits of Filmmaking and Climate Education

I love it when my passions collide. As both a life-long skier and a writer concerned about the impact of climate change, it’s nice to see that the action-sports community is trying to educate folks about climate and energy issues — particularly when the audience they’re influencing is a much younger generation.

Every fall, I go on a buying spree and collect most of the year’s ski videos that have just been released. Each year, the filming, riding and themes get better. But this fall, there’s a new video coming out that makes me particularly excited: All.I.Can.

This two-year project features stunning cinematography capturing the impact of climate change at mountains all over the world. The filmmakers blend a healthy mix of personal stories, breathtaking images of environmental change, and of course, some of the best skiing ever captured on film.

Check out the 6-minute trailer below. (And if you haven’t seen what athletes have been doing on skis in, say, the last 10 years, prepare to be blown away.)

All.I.Can. Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

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In fact, just last week, three riders representing Protect Our Winters (POW) held an event in Washington. They weren’t there to tell stories of glory though. Rather, they were there to talk about the impact of climate change on the terrain they’ve been riding for decades — and to ask Congress to do something about the problem.

As a die-hard follower of skiing and snowboarding, I find it odd that I had to move to Washington, DC to meet some of my heroes in the sport. But sure enough, I found myself on Capitol Hill last week listening to three of the top ski and snowboard athletes talk about riding the biggest mountains in the world.

Veteran big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones, big-mountain skier Chris Davenport and Olympic snowboard half pipe silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler went to Congress to convey a message: The mountains are changing. Fast.

All three told stories about not being able to ride where they used to, about permanent snowfields that have melted away, and about the people in communities who have been impacted by the rapid decline of glaciers and snow pack.

“I started seeing all these huge changes in the mountains and it opened my eyes,” explained Jones, the founder of POW. “It was such a huge eye-opener for me, and I knew we had to do something as community.”

And avoiding action isn’t just an environmental disaster in the making, it’s also a major economic one.

“This is a $66 billion industry in the U.S.,” explained Jones. “These are people’s livelihoods. It’s not just about the mountain — you’re talking about whole communities that are based around this industry. If the mountain isn’t open, everyone is impacted.” Indeed, the American snow sports industry supports over 600,000 jobs.

POW was on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and deliver a letter signed by 500 pros and action sports enthusiasts calling for action on climate change. The group was joined by Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Auden Schendler, director of sustainability for the Aspen Skiing Company (and periodic contributor to this blog.) The event was emceed by our very own Joe Romm.

If you’re an snow-sports addict like me, you can find out more about POW on their website. Or check out this video: