Protect Our Winters Switzerland (POW) acts as a mouthpiece for the outdoor community to support climate protection. The organisation was founded in 2007 in the United States by the snowboarder Jeremy Jones, and has been active in Switzerland since 2017. POW and their ambassador Michelle Gisin want to encourage as many spectators as possible to use public transport when coming to the World Cup races in Crans-montanao n 22 and 23 February 2020.
Climate change is a threat to the Alpine environment which is so dear to us. It is everyone’s responsibility to adapt their behaviour to better safeguard our environment. By, for example, avoiding taking the car or plane when it is not necessary. With this in mind, POW and Michelle Gisin are committed to finding solutions to safeguard the planet by offering solutions to reduce our ecological footprint.
The Olympic champion backs a more sustainable model, and is particularly encouraging spectators to take the train and bus when travelling to the World Cup races in Crans-Montana on 22 and 23 February 2020.
Video: Johan Tachet/SkiActu (available in French only)
Michelle Gisin, when did you decide to become an ambassador for Protect Our Winters (POW)?
When they launched POW in Switzerland. I’m very pleased to be part of this organisation. Through our sport, we notice that climate change has a huge influence on our favourite place, which is also our place of work. We want to raise awareness that this change is happening quickly, and we want to show that everyone can improve, even just by doing little things.
What actions can you, as professional skiers, undertake ?
It’s a very difficult discussion as a skier, because we lead a life that isn’t really CO2 neutral. We have to be honest. We can’t be climate change heroes, but we can still do things, and we have to show this to the FIS (International Ski Federation). For example, we should have a calendar that is more economical and ecological, this is the most important point. It’s not possible to go from point A to B, via C, to return to A. Changing the race programme would already be a great improvement, and that wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Do you think that the FIS is listening?
I hope so. I’ve talked a lot with Daniel Yule, who is the athletes’ representative at the FIS. They listen to some parts, but not others. But it’s important that we, the athletes, stand together. When you’re a skier, you see the extent of climate change. It’s mad, the glaciers are disappearing, sometimes there’s no snow in January.
Have you noticed a lot of changes since you started skiing when you were young ?
Yes, mainly the glaciers. At Engelberg, when I was young we’d go and see ski the glaciers, even in the autumn. Now, you see them in August and it makes you cry, as there’s hardly anything left. In Zermatt, at Saas-Fee, we’ve seen changes in the last ten years, and we’ve lost so much. We’ve got to wake up.
The athletes are committed, as are the resorts where the competititions take place, like the organisers of the World Cup in Crans-Montana. Everybody has to pull together.
Absolutely, it’s important that everyone realises that we have to change things. This isn’t going to happen overnight. But I find it really great that Crans-Montana has the drive and motivation to help, find solutions. A real evolution is underway. A first step is to make public transport an attractive way to come and see a race, minimising the carbon footprint of those who are travelling. Crans-Montana does this, and has understood this. This is a huge step.
How do you see skiing in 50 years time ?
It won’t be the same skiing as now, that’s for sure. The glaciers will have pretty much disappeared, and we won’t be able to ski in summer anymore. There will be a lot of changes and not just in skiing, the problems will be widespread. Everybody, in their own lifetime, has to find solutions.
So what can everyone do ?
Take a real cup and not a paper one when they have a coffee. There are little things that don’t hurt anyone, such as turning off the lights, not creating useless waste. These are little changes that can create big changes in a wider environment, as long as people are aware.
The Organising Committee for the Alpine ski races in Crans-Montana and also the Bid Committee for the Crans-Montana/Valais 2025 FIS World Championships are delighted to be able to have the support of Michelle Gisin for a variety of public relation exercises.