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Steamboat Magazine


03/18/2024 12:17PM ● By Eugene Buchanan
(Photo: A Steamboat Powdercats guest gets powder shots on Buffalo Pass. POW’s mission is to protect places and experiences from climate change; Steamboat Springs, with a wealth of outdoor activities, benefits from its efforts. Courtesy of Steamboat Powdercats.)

Long known for its trademark Champagne Powder®, Steamboat is now being recognized for its ties with Protect Our Winters. 

Steamboat Springs, CO - At the screening for this fall’s Warren Miller movie “All Time” at Colorado Mountain College, new Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboard program director Alex Deibold, 37, stood behind a table passing out literature and swag for Protect Our Winters (POW), a nonprofit mobilizing the outdoor community towards positive climate action.
Helping the nonprofit wasn’t just altruistic; Alex has skin in the game. The snowboarder from Manchester, Vermont, won bronze in snowboard cross at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and competed on the U.S. team every year before moving to Steamboat from Park City to work for SSWSC this summer. Now, as the club’s new snowboard program director, he needs snow on the slopes for his job to support his family, as well as his own recreation. So, it’s only natural for him to support POW, where he’s been an athlete ambassador since 2013 and now works part-time as its snowboard team captain.
“POW’s mission is to protect the places and experiences we love from climate change and places like Steamboat that offer a wealth of outdoor activities are crucial in helping and stand to benefit from that effort,” he says. “Their whole purpose is to come together as a collective to make their voice that much more powerful.”
Protect Our Winters aims to advance policies that will reduce emissions, add renewable energy to the grid, and create sustainable jobs for the workforce transition. It was founded in 2007 by pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones, who noticed that more and more resorts he’d always visited were closed due to lack of snow. Feeling the need to help mobilize the snowsports community to fight climate change, like etching tracks on a mountain, he made his mark by founding POW. With his brothers Steve and Todd heading up Teton Gravity Research, the idea gained a quick following, bringing on other concerned athletes, resorts, brand partners and citizens. It’s since grown into a worldwide network of more than 130,000 supporters helping give a national voice to the outdoor sports community in battling climate change.

Taylor Gold rides in the 18 foot Mavericks halfpipe during a closed session to film “Home Break.” The Steamboat Resort’s park crew created extra builds for Taylor and other U.S. snowboard team members to play in last spring. Courtesy of Ned Cremin.)


But mountain communities remain at its core. “In a warming world where, from 2011 to 2020, Colorado was impacted by 29 separate billion-dollar climate disaster events, we need a fire hose of systemic solutions,” says POW Interim Executive Director Torrey Udall. “Who better than mountain communities to meet this moment? Our mission is to turn The Outdoor State – the nation’s more than 50 million outdoor enthusiasts, businesses and athletes – into the most influential climate voice in the country. We’re in a unique and powerful position to advocate for a future of outdoor recreation in which lands are used properly to provide a sustainable future.”
With its bevy of outdoor businesses, a ski resort relying on snowfall and an environmentally-friendly citizen base, Steamboat is all-aboard with its mission and a crucial cog in the system. Just this fall, local gear manufacturer Big Agnes launched a series of special edition, snowflake-patterned camp chairs called the Big Six and Mica Basin, whose sales proceeds benefit POW. “We’re super excited to grow our partnership with them,” says Big Agnes’ Rob Peterson, adding the company has also donated to the cause via several fundraising events. “We’ve been a big fan of theirs since their inception. As soon as we saw the snowflake print come through for our nonprofit collaboration project we knew POW would be the best fit to partner with.”
Steamboat-born Smartwool also teamed up with POW for its Ski Zero Cushion POW Print Over the Calf ski sock, which helps its customers join the climate change fight via sales proceeds. Built for the deep powder days Steamboat is known for, the Merino socks spread the word by showing that their wearers champion the outdoors while also raising funds for POW’s mission. During her time at Smartwool, Robin Hall, now the founder of local children’s outdoorwear company Town Hall, even lobbied on Capitol Hill with POW to fight climate change.
POW has also partnered with the Ikon Pass, to which Steamboat belongs, with every pass holder receiving a one-year $20-level POW membership. Ikon executives say their contribution enables POW to “continue its work building the biggest, boldest, most inclusive team of outdoor enthusiasts into the nation’s most influential voice for climate.”
Protect Our Winters is grateful towns like Steamboat are on board with their mission and hopeful that the results benefit them as much as the environment. “Communities like Steamboat intimately know the impacts of climate on the local economy while wielding the influence to bring emissions-reduction solutions and benefits that transcend well beyond their valley,” says Torrey. “We draw encouragement from Steamboat leaders and POW partners who embody the moxie needed, from snowboarders Arielle and Taylor Gold and SBT GRVL’s Amy Charity, to the resort and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.”
At this year’s SBT GRVL event, in fact, POW even held an hour-long panel discussion on stage with YVSC head Michelle Stewart, event organizers and others to spread its mission’s word. “Protect Our Winters prioritizes helping passionate outdoor people protect the land they love and we support this through our advocacy around preserving this beautiful town we all call home,” says SBT GRVL race organizer Amy Charity. “We work hard to educate the thousands of people who join us every year on protecting, respecting and preserving the land around us. We’ve donated time and resources to their initiatives, invited POW athletes and employees to join us for panels, have shared their campaigns with our audience, and are committed to championing their cause any way we can.”
This spring, adds Alex, plans are also underway to host another panel in town with POW athletes and members of the YVSC and SSWSC to figure out how to best educate the next generation about why POW’s mission is so important and show how the group’s efforts will directly impact our community. While the real work is political, he adds – encouraging people to vote for initiatives and candidates that help the fight against climate change – every little bit helps; even handing out swag at movie premieres.
“Spreading awareness is a huge part of what we are trying to do,” says Alex, whose POW stickers and hats got gobbled up by attendees at the Warren Miller flick. “The more we can spread the word the more we can get more people involved.”