Winter Running Dry
Written by Shanie Matthews
It was in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where reality slapped pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones in the face. He had become an admirer of the area, with its unlimited snowboard descents, reputation for chilly temperatures, and friendly locals. But on this particular day, the big-mountain freerider couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The landscape was void of snow; only grass and rocks covered the ground.
“We have been skiing here all of our lives,” one local skier told Jones. “In twenty years we have gone from riding 60 or 70 days a season to now, if we’re lucky, a day every few years!”
Distraught with what he witnessed happening to the best skiable terrain in the world, Jones created the non-profit organization, Protect Our Winters. It’s the first foundation dedicated to inspiring the winter sports community to fight for what they love — freezing temperatures and precipitation. With the goal of assisting the environmental actions of North America, POW works on multiple levels. From an easy-access platform inspiring interaction between large non-profit foundations and the masses, to education programs like Solar 4R Schools, POW is creating a new path for change.
“I wanted something where every dollar raised went straight to slowing down global warming. There were good carbon offset companies and 1% for the Planet, who we partner with now, but it kept coming back to needing something that was targeting people… something that made people and companies go, ‘I want to be associated with that foundation.’ The companies out there didn’t have the same connection (with the people) as we hope to have with POW.”
Reality of a warmer overall climate is frightening. “If we don’t take action,” Jones explains, “our future could look grim.” The negative change is already happening: 47 ski resorts in the Alps simply did not open in 2006 due to climate change. Utah resorts are predicted to see 84% snow pack loss between 1976 and 2085. Scientists are predicting that a ski season that is now four months long could shrink to less than three months in 20 years. High greenhouse gas emissions are likely to end skiing in Aspen by 2100.
Jones’ work has already attracted the attention of ski areas like Californian resorts, Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley. Both mountains are taking steps to clean the natural environment of harmful by-products from ski lifts and snow machines.
Companies such as Rossignol, Burton, and Vans are joining in his cause as well. The three enterprises are focusing on reducing their carbon footprint and conducting business in a more environmentally-friendly manner. Their initiatives stretch across their companies, retail partners, end-consumers, and will also influence their products.
Jones also made a movie on ‘foot-accessed’ terrain to help fellow riders see the possibilities available when working with the environment: “One of the things that we are doing through POW is a movie called My Own Two Feet. It’s a movie based out of the Sierras, and it’s a human-powered snowboard movie. I feel that it is an important message, not only environmentally, but also a great way to hopefully inspire people to see that excellent freeriding is only a short hike away.”
As the first feature length snowboarding film that used only sustainable filming methods, it has broken a new barrier that intermixes adrenaline-pumping excitement with responsibility for our surroundings. To help pass on the message, POW has offered to give the movie to any supporters of the movement with the understanding that all proceeds created from the screenings are given to a local environmental organization.
Photo above: Jeremy Jones takes on Capital Hill with other influential figures in the snowboarding industry.
Jones is taking on the global warming issue, but knows that we must become a collective in creating change to truly make a difference. “Hopefully, as we grow, we will become more powerful and be able to do greater things for the environment. Within the foundation, we continue to explore different options to better spend our finances. We want POW to be a helpful source to the winter sports world on all levels.”
Check out the trailer for My Own Two Feet, Jeremy Jones’ sustainable snowboarding film:
For more on Protect Our Winters and how to get involved, visit: www.protectourwinters.org