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The American cross-country skier Jessie Diggins competing in 2016. “Saving winter is something I believe in,” she said.CreditAlexander Hassenstein/Bongarts, via Getty ImagesThe American cross-country skier Jessie Diggins competing in 2016. “Saving winter is something I believe in,” she said.CreditAlexander Hassenstein/Bongarts, via Getty Images

The thrill of victory

Jessie Diggins is a cross-country skier on the American women’s team and a favorite to win a medal at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. If she succeeds, it will be only the second time the United States has won a medal in the sport and the first for an American woman.

Diggins is also an advocate for climate action. I interviewed her to understand more about why she believes winter is worth protecting. (The following has been condensed and edited.)

How has climate change affected you?

Over the last 10 years, it has been hard to ski on real snow. Over the last three years, most venues have been exclusively on man-made snow. And in places like Davos, Switzerland, where they normally have three feet of snow, they’ve been snow farming and saving it for the next year because they don’t even count on getting snow anymore. I’ve spoken to people in Switzerland who are losing their jobs because winter’s going away.

How is skiing on man-made snow different?

It’s a little faster. So the same World Cup courses that we race to get more and more dangerous with man-made snow because it gets icy. One of my teammates broke his leg on a corner on a course where it never should have been as fast as it was. Real snow, it feels softer. It’s not as hard when you fall.

What about people who say that fighting climate change is going to hurt the economy?

You can look at different solutions for the economy, but you only get one earth to live on, and you have to breathe the air that is on this earth. We have to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt families economically, which is why I’m supporting the carbon fee and dividend solution because it puts a fee on carbon and returns the revenue to households.

What do you say to those who say, ‘You’re just an athlete, stay in your lane’?

I’m also someone who lives on this planet. I think you need to be able to stand up for things you believe in, and saving winter is something I believe in. It just breaks my heart because this is such a cool sport, and winter is so amazing and beautiful and I feel like we’re actually really at risk of losing it. And I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world where they’ve never experienced snow because we weren’t responsible enough.

Source: The New York Times | 7 February 2018

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