What is extreme skier Chris Davenport (Hist’93) doing in the halls of Congress? He’s trying to save the $67 billion winter sports industry.
Ask professional big mountain skier Chris Davenport (Hist’93) what he’s been doing for work lately, and he’ll rattle off a list of epic adventures that leaves even the most ambitious powder-hounds salivating. In 2011 alone, he skied 150 days on six continents, guided a client up Mount Everest, completed a rare ski descent of its fabled Lhotse Face (elevation 24,000 feet) and led adventure travelers on an eight-day excursion to the untouched powder stashes of the Antarctic Peninsula.
But ask him which trip he is most proud of and his answer may surprise you: The one to Washington, D.C.
In September Davenport traded his down parka for a three-piece suit and joined professional snowboarders Gretchen Bleiler and Jeremy Jones on Capitol Hill for what they say will be the first of many visits to lobby lawmakers to “take action to address climate change” on behalf of the $67 billion winter sports industry. The trip was organized by Protect Our Winters (POW), a burgeoning California-based nonprofit that aims to rally the roughly 600,000 people who make their living via snow sports — and the 21 million who enjoy them — to speak up about the potential economic consequences of global warming.
While some on Capitol Hill argue that climate change legislation kills jobs, POW begs to differ.
“Senators and congressmen hear from the fossil fuel lobby every day, yet rarely do they see a world-class winter sports athlete like Chris in the halls,” says POW executive director Chris Steinkamp. “Their decisions about climate legislation rarely take into account our industry and the economic welfare of the mountain communities that stand to lose the most.”