GeneralNewsOpinionAn Editorial on Skiing For the Greater Good

FasterSkier FasterSkierMarch 3, 20091

by Sam Newbury

After last week’s stellar performances by US athletes at World Championships, there has been much talk about the momentum and health of our sport.  While top results certainly help, I wonder how else we can build momentum, especially given our dynamic and challenging times.  From the perspective of an event organizer, one answer is to commit to skiing for the greater good.

Bjorn Daehlie is doing it through MS research.  Lance Armstrong is racing in pursuit of a cure for cancer.  Several top skiers have joined 350.org, a carbon emission awareness group.  For the rest of us, there are a lot of answers such as coaching, carpooling, volunteering, which many of us already do (congratulations to all!).  We can also contribute by supporting events and companies who share our commitment to the greater good.

Companies like Patagonia and ClifBar have made a name by committing to protecting the resources on which their customers depend for recreation and enjoyment.  In a quick scan of the 1% for the Planet, a worldwide business association founded on environmental values, there are no ski companies on the list!  There are ways these ski companies contribute, but explicit support of causes like 350.org, and membership in 1% for the planet could further the momentum of nordic skiing in its move from the sidelines to being a central player in our communities.  Let’s get ski companies to commit along with us!

There are numerous benefit and fund raising ski races each year for various charities and causes.  These events have potential to be effective ways for the ski community to reach out, yet most of the charities and causes are within the bubble of the ski world.  Perhaps our challenge is to reach out beyond this bubble, to the families and community members who host us and share their local trails. As a race organizer, I feel responsible to create an event that supports the community as well as creating an opportunity for ski competition.  To show up, use a resource, then leave, sounds like what businesses do who are NOT committed to the greater good.  We as racers and organizers can commit to creating and participating in events that contribute directly to these communities.  I believe this is what will really push skiing into the limelight along with our star athletes continuing their inspiring performances.  What possibilities arise if ski events and skiers become synonymous with committing to the greater good, especially now?  Let us expand the focus beyond the timing clock.

To see the way one race does this, check out www.equinoxskichallenge.com.  This event is a benefit for a youth leadership program, the local food bank, and the local youth ski program.   It is held in West Yellowstone, Montana on March 21st and 22nd.

Commit to the greater good.

Sam Newbury lives in Bozeman, Montana.  Among other things he organizes the Equinox Ski Challenge, a 24-hour ski race in West Yellowstone, MT.  The event is a benefit for a youth leadership program, the local food bank, and the local youth ski program.

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One comment

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    March 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

    It is important to point out that ski companies are working in specific ways to further the greater good. Fischer recently teamed with Bjorn Daehlie to raise funds for MS at the Birkie, and many companies sponsor fund raising events with significant donation of product. Of course, more can be done, and the challenge should not be limited to ski companies, but all businesses associated with the sport.

    It is also worth noting the success of running races and triathlons at inspiring people to compete for a cause. We do see some of this in nordic skiing, but on nowhere near the scale. Obviously skiing is a smaller sport, but I believe we could do a better job of inspiring people to participate in events as both a personal challenge, and as a commitment to a greater purpose.

    And as Sam points out, many people, events, and businesses are working very hard to support the sport and other causes. But we can always do more.

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