Slovenians join call on FIS to act over climate crisis

Ljubljana, 21 February - Leading winter athletes, including four Slovenians, have called on the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) to overhaul sustainability strategy and demand action over the climate emergency, which is increasingly endangering winter sports, the British Guardian has reported.

Courchevel, France
Alpine Skiing Wolrd Cup.
Photo: dpa/STA
File photo

The four Slovenians that have joined the call are skiers Boštjan Kline, Nejc Naraločnik and Maks Jan Mrnik, and snowboarder Žiga Erlač, shows the copy of the letter published by Slovenian NGO Umanotera.

Noting a notable lack of snow across Alpine resorts, the athletes propose a more "geographically reasonable" race schedule to reduce carbon emissions by minimising flying across the world.

They are also asking for the ski season to be changed, suggesting shifting the start of the season from late October to late November and the end of the season from mid-March to late April.

"We are already experiencing the effects of climate change in our everyday lives and our profession. The public opinion about skiing is shifting towards unjustifiability ... We need progressive organisational action. We are aware of the current sustainability efforts of FIS and rate them as insufficient," they said.

The letter, signed by 200 athletes, was written by the Austrian downhiller Julian Schütter, ambassador for climate campaign group Protect Our Winters, with Umanotera counting on the number of signatories to rise during the Nordic World Ski Championships hosted by Slovenia's Planica until 5 March.

The NGO said the top sporting event will be held in "the natural setting of one of the most beautiful valleys in our country", which was an excellent opportunity to warn of the burning environmental challenges.

Planica has long been a source of national pride and a massive crowd magnet, with the Ski Jumping World Cup finales usually taking place there often attracting over 100,000 spectators in three days. Now, 150,000 to 200,000 visitors are expected in the coming two weeks.

Such figures present a vast logistical and environmental challenge and while the organisers have been promoting responsible practices and moving the parking areas away from the venue, environmentalist have not been happy with some of the solutions used in this protected area that is part of the Triglav National Park, especially since the organisers explicitly committed to green policies.

FIS said in its response to the letter last week that sustainability was a top priority. It added that a sustainable strategy that would meet the demands of athletes was being drawn up. Key changes will be an optimisation of the race schedule and cooperation with partners to make events more sustainable.

© STA, 2023