A Platform for Change | The Enni Rukajärvi Interview
Climate change and Olympics, Enni Rukajärvi uses snowboarding as a platform to make a change for the better
Above Enni Rukajärvi, in Ruka Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.
X Games gold medal winner and double Olympic Slopestyle medallist, Enni Rukajärvi needs no introduction when it comes to her ability to manoeuvre a snowboard. With her humble and laid-back Finnish nature, Enni often lets her snowboarding speak for itself.
“The Global Olympic committee should definitely take into consideration issues related to human rights and climate change, especially as the latter affects the future of winter sports immensely”
But behind all that style, there’s a strong, opinionated woman who wants to put her position within winter sports to good use. We thought it was about time to give this Enni the recognition she deserves for how she uses snowboarding as a platform to make a change for the better.
We sat down with Enni to talk about the Olympics, her role within Protect our Winters, and to get her thoughts on how we can use snowboarding to try and make the world a bit of a better place.
Hi Enni, how are you? Where are you currently located?
I’m good, thanks. Currently at home in Ruka. It’s a good place to charge your batteries before the end of the season trips and at the same time a great spot to be in no matter what kind of terrain I want to ride.
Sounds like a good place to call home. How’s your season been so far and what plans have you got for the rest of the winter?
The season’s been alright so far. The beginning of the season was spent competing and preparing for the Olympics. The comps went alright, and I’ve had a good vibe riding throughout the whole season so far.
“In my opinion, I think there’s already been a shift towards the better within the sports community”
For the rest of the season, I’ve got a few filming trips planned up to the north of Norway. I haven’t been able to travel up there for a few years now because of covid so Ii’m looking forward to that a lot. We’re shooting a project with Vans [https://whitelines.com/brands/vans] up there and then I’m also filming some bits in between for my own video project.
Sounds like a good way to end the season.
I read an interview with you a while back where you expressed your thoughts on the Olympic Games. Amongst other things, you mentioned your concerns about how the human rights issue in China only became a more widely discussed topic on the eve of the games and as the comp was already underway. How do you wish the Olympic committee would address issues like these in the future?
The biggest responsibility here is of course on the Global Olympic Committee and their board of directors, to which, for example, the Finnish Olympic committee has no influence, which is crazy! The Global Olympic committee should definitely take into consideration issues related to human rights and climate change, especially as the latter affects the future of winter sports immensely. I wish that the national Olympic committees would be able to have a say in things and affect the powers higher up because it’s clear to me that issues like these are taken far more into consideration on national levels than they are on a global one.
And how about the athletes, media, and other players, how do you think we could help to make a difference?
Be vocal about important things like these whenever you’ve got the chance. In my opinion, I think there’s already been a shift towards the better within the sports community. More and more people have begun to be vocal about grievances and I feel like in the future people can no longer shut their eyes from all the unfairness in the world. It’s devastating what’s going on in Ukraine right now, but it’s been so good to see that for once sports and sportspeople have taken such a strong stand and are boycotting everything that’s going on in Russia.
You’re also a member of Protect Our Winters. Tell us a bit about what it is that you guys do, what you’ve been working on and how the membership works?
I joined Protect Our Winters in 2014 when they first established the Finnish operations. As an ambassador, I commit to representing the values of POW and communicating about a more sustainable and climate friendlier way to live. On top of that, I also participate in panel discussions, events and interviews while trying to get the climate message across. I’ve also acted as “the face” of the POW campaigns.
“Winter sports themselves aren’t always the most climate-friendly activity, so all the more reason for us to do something about things and help change the disciplines to take a more sustainable direction”
Anyone can become a member of POW by paying a membership fee that supports the activities of POW, enabling campaigns and events to take place where we can spread the message of climate change. POW also shares a lot of good information, and if you’re unsure about how to start making a difference there’s a lot of good info on their website too.
How do you think other winter sports enthusiasts could be able to help steer things in the right direction when it comes to climate change?
I wish that all snowboarders and skiers, including all the other winter sports athletes and people in general who feel passionate about winter sports, would do their part when it comes to saving the winters because without winters we won’t have these amazing sports anymore. Winter sports themselves aren’t always the most climate-friendly activity, so all the more reason for us to do something about things and help change the disciplines to take a more sustainable direction.
“No one has to be perfect in order to spread the message about climate change”
Everyone can think about what they could do as individuals to help make a change for the better and then build up the courage to convey the message to others. No one has to be perfect in order to spread the message about climate change. And it’s also important to remember that your political influence and voting is one of the biggest things you can do on behalf of the climate. It’s within politics that all the big decisions are made but big businesses have a lot of influence in the matter too. Big corporations can make the decision to be at the forefront of things and thus affect people to change their consumption choices, or vice versa, consumers can affect the corporations with their individual consumption choices.
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