• Maddie Phaneuf

Olympians on The Hill

Earlier this week I had the privilege of visiting Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to speak with politicians about the impacts of climate change I've seen through being a professional biathlete. It was a whirlwind day, and one I will never forget. I'll try to break down how my day went, and what exactly we did, with plenty of photos! (All photos in this blog were taken by Elysees Eye Productions)

(L-R) Lindsay Bourgoine, myself, Stacey Cook, Jessie Diggins, Arielle Gold, David Wise, and Barbara Weber

I was a part of a bipartisan congressional briefing which was organized by the nonprofits Protect Our Winters and Citizens' Climate Lobby, and was co-hosted by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The other Olympians that took part were Stacey Cook (Alpine Skiing), Jessie Diggins (Cross Country Skiing), Arielle Gold (Snowboarding), and David Wise (Freestyle Skiing), with Bryan Cole from Clif Bar as the moderator.

David Wise, myself, Arielle Gold, Jessie Diggins, and Stacey Cook at the start of our bipartisan congressional briefing

The briefing was basically just us athletes talking about our first hand experience with climate change and how it affects each of our individual sports. I talked about how a majority of my races nowadays are held on 100% man-made courses. As a biathlete, our races are typically held at lower elevations, but if our planet continues to warm, we may be forced to race at higher altitudes which will make racing fairly difficult.

Another thing I touched on was how low snow years impact towns that rely on winter tourism to survive the winter months. I come from a small town that depends on skiers, snowboarded, snowmobilers, and people who just love winter in order to feed their families and pay the bills. When we have a bad winter, everyone is affected.

Overall the briefing was well received and it was an amazing opportunity

Besides holding a congressional briefing, we also went and met with Congressmen and Senators from our home states. We met with Nevada Senator Dean Heller, Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen, and New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

In these meetings we got to speak face-to-face with our representatives about how they can help us by voting for climate action. They were all excited to meet and speak with us, and truly listened to what we were saying. Everybody seemed to be on board with climate action, wanting to do whatever they could to make a difference for our future.

Meeting Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Meeting Congressman Erik Paulsen

Meeting Congressman Mark Amodei

Meeting Senator Dean Heller

I think the day went exceptionally well, everybody was so positive and excited! I feel good about going down to D.C. to speak up about climate change. Everyone we met with stated that it was people like us that make a difference. It's one thing to just talk about the changes what you want to see, and it's another thing to actually show up and do something about it. So, get out there and do something about the changes you hope to see in your world!

Note: All photos in this blog were taken by the wonderful Elysees Eye Productions

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