Conflicted Obsessions Round 2 With Marie-France Roy

Can skiers be environmentalists themselves without being flakey hypocrites? Can the ski industry sustain itself on its current trajectory?  If I buy a big deep freezer for my garage and stash snow in it, will I be helping save the planet or sucking it’s energy? And if the Pope $*%ts in the woods, but nobody hears it, does it make a sound? Wait, is that how it goes?

Whistler Blackcomb recently dropped ‘Conflicted Obsessions’, part 1 of their 4 part ‘The Big Picture’ documentary series, and they’re on a mission to answer those very questions. We previously linked up with Arthur De Jong (WB’s Environmental Planning and Resource Manager), and later connected with Marie-France Roy (Pro Snowboarder & Environmentalist) for her take on the issue.

Doglotion: Marie, as a pro snowboard and film rockstar, do metropolitan new-age hippies ever call you out for using a snowmobile in the backcountry like it’s devil incarnate?

Marie: All the time! And I can appreciate them paying attention at least and questioning the whole issue but at the same time, I think they are missing the whole point of the conversation. I am not going out there saying: “Hey look at me! I am perfect, I care for the environment and have no footprint!” I am saying: ” we are all part of this issue and we need together to make the changes happen so that we can enjoy what we love without having such a big impact on our natural environment.  I truly believe it is possible if we start working together and investing in that direction. 

Doglotion: Of course driving a big SUV for 4 hrs to get to a backcountry trail head is worse. And flying a 747 to get there… oh won’t go there. How do you think people outside of mountain towns can best enjoy the awesomeness of sliding on snow without quitting their jobs and squatting in the woods?

Marie: I think the big solution resides in using more efficient and sustainable energy for our transportation and every day needs really. Because it is simply not realistic to ask everyone to quit their jobs or not use cars or planes or quit doing what makes them genuinely happy. It just won’t happen. But what we can do is evolve and make it a priority to have everything we use work more efficiently. We are so smart as humans and have so much potential, it’s a matter of focusing on solutions I believe. I always say this: ” we could fly humans to the moon in 1969 but somehow we still can’t find more efficient technology than using fossil fuels for pretty much everything? We need to be realistic about the longterm health of every living species on Earth instead of short term profit and then maybe we will start focusing on what actually makes more sense. You just can’t get a healthy economy without a healthy environment, it is bound to fail.

Doglotion: In the film you talk about nobody being perfect, and working together instead of hating on each others faults. First off, I’m perfect, but I’ll let that slide this time. Second, have you seen any cool examples where people get together from different industries or community/sport/interest groups to solve this mind-numbing environmental dilemma together?

Marie: I see people getting together all over the World and there are more and more Organizations trying to take on the issue as well like The David Suzuki Foundation and Protect Our Winters for example. But this is probably humanity’s biggest challenges so it’s not something that can be fixed overnight with only a small group of people. We need everyone to understand what is happening and what that means for our future. There are a ton of people still denying that there is even a problem, which blows my mind. We can see the consequences everywhere, everyday if you pay the smallest bit of attention. But at the same time, I do believe that more and more people are becoming aware. The younger generation is more educated and this is a huge part of making things change. We have to come together and do what we can, haters are only slowing down the whole process and bringing nothing to the table but turning people away from the cause. Nobody is perfect but what are you doing to help besides criticizing? What is worse than a hypocrite about climate change? Someone that does nothing at all.

Doglotion: Are ski industry sustainability projects just a selfish excuse to keep feeding our super fun but unsustainable pastime, or do you think it legitimately gives us more in health/well-being/awesomeness than it takes from the environment?

Marie: I believe it is genuine and even if some companies were using the sustainability trends to gain more business credibility, it is still a huge step in the right direction so good for them! We need more enterprises to do the same and honestly to run your business with sustainability is becoming more lucrative with less footprint anyways. So it is a win win in my opinion.

Doglotion: Who’s better for the environment, skiers or boarders? That’s a trick question based on the last one. Dare you to answer it.

Marie: We don’t need poles so in theory, boarders we are more efficient… ha! Just joking, I actually love both and I use poles for split boarding so we’re all equally guilty I guess :)

Doglotion: I’ll confess I haven’t seen The Little Things yet. Should I? Will you answer some of my deepest environmental conflicts in the flick, or is it just a lot of snowboard porn? Both are fine, just asking’  ;)

Marie: The little things is much more of a documentary but still includes beautiful snowboarding as well. The goal was to feature snowboarders who are inspiring by what they do outside of snowboarding, even if it’s not directly related to the environmental cause. It’s a very positive flick so you should watch it for sure! 

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