Thursday, December 29, 2016

Happy New Year

Tignes free-riding - © Jérémy Pontin
Although New Year is all about celebrating - the past year and, of course, the continuing ski season! - one of the main thrusts is anticipating what's coming next. That's why we all make New Year's Resolutions: start diets, make use of the gym membership, save rather than spend, recycle more, and generally 'house-clean' our lives in physical, mental and emotional terms. In the past I have written lots of skiing/riding resolution articles, encouraging everyone to get on the slopes more, use their season passes fully, and benefit from all that fresh air and outdoor exhilaration. These still stand for me every year - and I would counsel you all to make use of mega mountain moments while you can. Especially with all those January deals around at resorts and especially at ski schools as January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month
Aspen Snowmass New Year's Torchlight Parage and Fireworks
However, this year, I'm getting a bit more longterm in my thinking, having focused recently on a cause I don't think any of us skiers and snowboarders can ignore any more. If you've seen Leonardo DiCaprio's daunting documentary Before the Flood, then you, too, might be slightly anxious about more than just 2017. This film is not about ski hills or the future of skiing per se, but about the future of the entire world as a suitable habitat for humanity. But, with my more narrow (admittedly selfish) skiing lens, my take on it is this: is there anything I can do to help preserve for future generations the wonderland of wintersports that I have been privileged to experience since I first set foot on skis in 1972? 

Passion for powder at Sunshine Village, Canada where they only need artificial snow on the ski out
(Photo courtesy of Ski Big 3)
DiCaprio's compelling three-year crusade to create awareness of the urgent need to counteract global warming is outlined in the film, along with what is the best bit for me: several simple scientific solutions that we skiers and snowboarders - along with everyone else - can do to reduce our carbon ski-boot print. Some of these are way beyond the individual, of course - eg setting up 100 gigafactories (like Tesla's Nevada prototype due to open in 2020) which would supply the whole world with all its energy, eradicating the need for fossil fuels. Perhaps we'll get the opportunity to campaign and vote for this sort of thing, at some point?

Lake Louise Ski Resort Sushi & Ramen Bar
But others are small enough for anyone to take on in daily life. And the outcomes could be significant in changing the course of climate change if enough of us adopt them. These include giving up beef (since beef rearing takes up way too much deforested land compared with other foods). This is advocated in the documentary by Gidon Eschel - professor of environmental science and physics at Bard College, New York - who explains that beef is 10 times more damaging to the environment than other meats, and alone is responsible for a staggering 10-12 % of US emissions. I've also read about this in The China Study, an amazing early insight into some of the global food and health problems we are now experiencing. But, back to giving up beef: such a simple solution all within our own power to implement and no need to resort to tofu! We can still eat poultry and other meats, Eschel maintains. 

By the way, have you ever skied on a plant-based diet? You would be amazed at the amount of afternoon energy you have compared to when you scarf down a meaty cheese fest at lunchtime! And, you'll notice, there is definitely a trend towards more healthy eating in ski resort restaurants, including gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc. In fact I am working on article about ski hill food and nutrition needs for skiers at the moment. 
Tignes New Year's Eve Party: Credit ©Sophie Chenal/ 
Not sure how many global warming naysayers there still are out there, but I just read about a new project in Tignes - one of France's top glacier skiing areas - where they are building an 400-metre indoor ski slope at an altitude of 2000 metres above sea-level to help combat the effects of climate change at the resort. I think that the 62 million Euro project pretty much confirms that they think that global warming is happening! This is especially noticeable at a ski resort with an eleven-month season, which opens glacier runs throughout the summer for athlete training. The indoor project could return the resort to all year skiing, which it used to offer until the Grand Motte glacier started shrinking.

Lake Louise New Year's Eve Torchlight Descent with an amazing sheen captured from the actual lake between the mountains in the distance - Photo by Chris Moseley (Courtesy of Lake Louise Ski Resort)
Back to my New Year's Resolution then: it's all about how I can start to set a better eco example, trying not to ostrich-like put my head in the (oil)sands, and doing my bit to help save our snow for future generations. We've already gone down to a one (very small, economical) car family and intend to upgrade to an even more sustainable car in the near future as well as investigate the possibility of solar power at home - and I'm giving up beef from Jan 1. If you're interested in the climate-change cause, too, you can check it out at: And you can read more about the subject at:, and And I am sure there are many other similar groups out there. 

Happy & Healthy New Year to you all with lots more skiing and snowboarding for 2017 and beyond!

Veysonnaz, Quatre Vallees, Switzerland New Year Celebration - © Aline Fournier

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