Alison Gannett skis toward saving the snow
Alison Gannett sits comfortably among the ranks of world's greatest free skiers having won the world freeskiing championship title in 1998.
She has graced the silver screen in Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research ski films, won freeskiing titles in Canada, Japan and South America. She has made first runs down precarious mountains like the Hanuman Tibba peak in the Indian Himalayas and Mount Bullock Workman in Pakistan.
Gannett, however, is more than a conqueror of slopes. Her travels have allowed her to witness first-hand the effects of global climate change and led her to focus on saving the snow.
Her efforts have earned recognition. In 2010 Outside Magazine listed her as A Green All-Star, and Skiing Magazine named her Ski Hero of 2010.
A honors graduate with a degree in climate studies from the University of Virginia, Gannett marries her passions by documenting glacial recession around the world during her ski expeditions. Glacial run-off is crucial to providing millions of people with drinking water, irrigation opportunities and hydroelectric power.
"One day, while skiing in 2004, I realized that my goal needed to include the whole world and not just one area, so I started Save Our Snow (SOS) in 2008," Gannett said.
The mission of SOS to is demonstrate that fighting climate change can be cost beneficial and effective. It strives to preserve the outdoor playground by calling people to action through "the optimistic spirit of outdoor sport," Gannett said.
On a grassroots level, Gannett operates KEEN Rippin Chix skiing and mountain biking camps. Here, she motivates women to find a passion in the outdoors not only for self-satisfaction, but also to relate to climate change on a personal level.
"If you love something like snow," Gannett said, "you are more likely to change that light bulb so your kids can enjoy skiing like you do."
Gannett has also developed a four-step framework for climate change called CROP (Calculate your carbon footprint, Reduce your footprint, Offset your footprint, Produce your own power) to advise individuals, businesses and Fortune 500 companies on implementing solutions to climate change. She has even worked with former vice president Al Gore.
Gannett lives on the 75-acre Save Our Snow Farm in Paonia, Colo. The ranch is geared toward self-sufficiency -- just one effort she has made to reduce her carbon footprint, which is currently three tons, compared to the 20-ton footprint of an average American.
"I've been able to calculate and reduce my carbon footprint in half and still be able to ski and have a normal life," she said, insisting we don't have to throw away what we love to make a difference.
On the horizon for the skier/activist are a ski-and-surf expedition to the highest peaks in the Andean Mountains in Colombia. Gannett is anxious to visit the glaciers in the region, which she says are disappearing at an alarming rate. She will to document the glacial recession while garnering a few more first descents. She also hopes to track one of the largest rivers from its glacial source to the ocean delta and explore how the changes in weather and water levels affect people and their livelihood.