Action sports activists
Some of the country’s top risk-takers are down with green
Environmental activism isn’t just for granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing, tree sitters. Environmentalists include among their ranks some of the most accomplished, big-name action sports athletes in the world. Whether it’s skateboarding, mountain biking, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, or BMX, some of the country’s top risk-takers are down with green.
Alison Gannett is a world-champion, big-mountain free-skier, competitive-endurance mountain biker, international expedition leader and global warming consultant. She’s a lifelong devotee to environmental protection and trained with Al Gore. Gannett built her own straw bale house in 1997 and started two nonprofit organizations dedicated to combating climate change.
Gannett’s Save Our Snow Foundation educates people about the impact of global warming on winter sports and worldwide environmental assets. She spends virtually all of her professional time spreading the word about snowfall and water resources, melting icecaps and severe temperature changes.
“I enjoy traveling the world … using my expedition photos and crazy adventure films to make an otherwise dry topic more captivating and hopefully to motivate people to save the sports they love for their kids,” says Gannett.
Another major player in the world of winter sports is Jeremy Jones, snowboarding pioneer, Teton Gravity Research movie star and climate change activist. This Truckee, Calif., resident has won the title of Big Mountain Rider of the Year seven times and started an organization in 2007 called Protect Our Winters, geared toward “reversing the global warming crisis, with a direct focus on the winter sports community.”
Last December, POW gave its first $4,000 grant to a solar power program in a Wyoming school district and this year expects to dole out two more to the tune of $25,000 each. Jones was recently featured in Outside Magazine as one of nine eco-all-stars. He was quoted as saying: “Climate change is no longer just being talked about by Sierra Club members and hybrid owners. Everybody wants colder winters.’
But action sports athletes aren’t just talking about climate change. The Bay Area-based Action Sports Environmental Coalition (ASEC) represents a group of motivated individuals, athletes and companies who care about their intercontinental playground and want to reduce their collective impact on the planet. The adrenaline-addicted athletes include champion skateboarder and organic farmer Bob Burnquist, professional surfer Rob Machado, Mega Ramp skateboard king Danny Way, and multi-sport superwoman Cara-Beth Burnside.
ASEC takes its message to events like the X Games, where members talk to young fans about getting informed and making environmentally conscious decisions. Kids get on board because the athletes practice what they preach. They’ve also been instrumental in switching over to Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood for competition ramps.
ASEC was founded in 2001 by a core group including Frank Scura, a man with a passionate, holistic approach to life and an impressive, comprehensive understanding of the issues. The coalition emphasizes social responsibility and environmental accountability. Regarding the oftentimes rebellious, defiant reputation of action sports trailblazers, Scura said, “It takes strength and consciousness to be a rebel. Besides, this isn’t a revolution. It’s a resolution.”