Australia has any number of well known sports people. What sometimes surprises me is how few prominent skiers/ boarders – that is people connected with our mountains – actually speak out on environmental issues. This example from the excellent Wend magazine profiles extreme skier from the USA, Alison Gannett, and her advocacy work on climate change.
Alison Gannett–Adventures in Saving Snow
(author: James Mills)
There are plenty of people out there talking about climate change. But how many are actually doing something about it? Even those of us who spend a lot of time outdoors can be guilty of contributing to the destruction of the natural environment we love. We fly in jets from place to place for the sake of adventure. And many of us are still driving low gas mileage, carbon emitting SUVs. Our active lifestyles can really hurt the planet. So that’s why we can all take a few lessons from professional skier and environmental advocate Alison Gannett.
“I went to school for climate change and majored in education for environmental issues. And then I went to school for solar design for alternative home building,” she said. “At the same time, I had a professional skiing career, doing crazy things like the X-Games and jumping off cliffs for a living.” While she had two careers running parallel to one another, Gannett suffered a devastating crash at the X-Games and because she was badly injured and unable to compete, several of her sponsors immediately dropped her. That got Gannett to thinking.
“I realized how shallow a lot of my ski industry sponsors were,” she said. “I decided, wouldn’t it be cool to partner with companies that have more at stake and care more about than just selling clothing?” Though many of the competitors and colleagues thought she was crazy for chasing the more lucrative sponsorship deals, Gannett changed her professional priorities to work instead with companies who share her environmentally conscious values. “I want to chase ethics,” she said. “I want to work with companies that have the same beliefs that I do.”
It turns out that there are plenty of sponsors out there willing to support Gannett’s mission to raise awareness for the ongoing crisis of climate change. Blending her interests in sustainable living and an active lifestyle, she’s proven to be a very effective spokesperson for both. “As an athlete getting older, I’d have to say that I have better sponsor relationships now than I ever did,” she said. “And now working with the Save Our Snow Foundation and working with schools, working with Congress, working with the White House I’m saving our snow, saving our planet and making the world a better place.”
Allison Gannett is the kind of adventure athlete that walks her talk. While still leading an exciting life as a professional skier, she’s making a big difference in educating the general public on the realities of climate change. And through her work at the Save Our Snow Foundation and on her own organic farm in Colorado, she’s showing us what we each can to do to slow it down.
You can find Alison’s website here.