Mikaela Shiffrin leads push for winter sports sustainability amid climate crisis
US star Mikaela Shiffrin has led calls for ski chiefs to change their approach to sustainability in a bid to make winter sports justifiable to a public ever more aware of climate change.
Entitled “Our sport is endangered”, a letter to International Ski Federation (FIS) president Johan Eliasch signed by Shiffrin and scores of others claimed the body’s current sustainability efforts were “insufficient”.
Citing race cancellations due to lack of snow, fewer pre-season training options “because glaciers are shrinking at a frightening pace” and the inability to produce artificial snow because of rising temperatures, “the public opinion about skiing is shifting towards unjustifiability”, the letter reads.
“That’s why we as a winter sports community have to take the lead in the fight against climate change and make our sport climate neutral as soon as possible. To do so we need progressive organisational action.
“This is our most important race, let’s win it together,” they said.
The letter signees called for the FIS to commit to reaching net-zero for all operations and events by 2035 or before, achieve the 50% emissions reduction by 2030, to install a sustainability department and guarantee full transparency.
Among their suggestions, the 142 athletes in the Protect Our Winters (POW) association that signed the letter called for the World Cup season to be moved to end-November to later in April, unlike the current alpine skiing season which starts in Solden in October.
They also demanded that an effort be made to cut carbon emissions by creating “a geographically reasonable race calendar” so the North American swing is done in one go, something they argue would “reduce approximately 1,500 tons of CO2”.