By Karen D. Lorentz
Icebergs, oceans and ski-racing suits might seem an odd couple, but the recent World Championships provided a graphic reminder that climate change is real by having U.S. competitors clad in a speed suit featuring large chunks of icebergs sailing in the ocean. The design was based on a satellite photograph of an expanse of ice breaking due to high temperatures and brought global attention to the current situation of a warming climate and its threat to the future of snowsports.
As most every skier and rider knows, the sports of skiing and snowboarding are seeing the impact of climate change every winter now. Commenting on the suits, U.S. Alpine Ski Team racer Travis Ganong noted, “These will help bring awareness to climate change and melting glaciers and shrinking snowpacks around the globe and how that affects our sport directly. We’ve had so many canceled races this year so it’s definitely happening in real time as we speak.”
U.S. Ski & Snowboard launched the climate-change-themed race suit at the Alpine World Championships — held Feb. 6-19 — in partnership with Kappa and Protect Our Winters (POW). U.S. Ski & Snowboard is the Olympic National Governing Body (NGB) of ski and snowboard sports in the U.S. and represents some 200 elite skiers and snowboarders who compete on seven teams — alpine, cross country, freeski, freestyle, snowboard, Nordic combined, and ski jumping. Kappa is the team uniform partner, and POW is a nonprofit advocating for solutions to climate change by raising awareness of the issue and educating people on ways they can help to combat climate change.
“From the initial vision and concept to the product in hand, we at U.S. Ski & Snowboard, POW and Kappa have created a suit that represents and brings attention to a warming climate,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard recognizes climate change as “an existential threat to the future of skiing. In the 2022-23 winter alone, teams around the world have seen the devastating effects of a warming climate with canceled races due to lack of snow, tracks made entirely of machine-made snow, and athletes racing in 50-degree temperatures in the middle of winter.
“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S. Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” Goldschmidt noted.
The race suit was designed by Kappa and produced in Italy using Italian fabrics in a factory that is certified in environmental sustainability. “We are proud, as the Official Technical Sponsor of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, to be part of this initiative in support of POW and its fight against the climate change crisis,” said Lorenzo Boglione, Vice Chairman of BasicNet S.p.A., an Italian company that owns Kappa among other leading footwear, clothing, and accessory brands for sports and leisure.
“POW and U.S. Ski & Snowboard are aligned on the urgency of uniting the snowsports industry and community on meaningful advocacy on climate,” said POW Executive Director Mario Molina. “This World Championships suit designed by Kappa makes a statement that athletes, brands and winter enthusiasts worldwide can get behind. By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love.”
After the World Championships, the suits are being sold at auction with proceeds going to POW, based in Boulder, Colorado. Founded in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones, POW is a community of athletes, scientists, business leaders, and others seeking to educate people on how to protect and preserve the places, lifestyles and winter sports they love.