2014 Olympic Snowboard Halfpipe Gold Medalist Kaitlyn Farrington attended the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation New York Gold Medal Gala Thursday night, to raise money for the upcoming winter season. Photo by Jennifer Cohen
About 30 United States ski and snowboard olympians gathered at Cipriaini Wall Street for the 50th anniversary of the New York Gold Medal Gala yesterday. The fundraising event raised over $1 million, out of the $36 million budget needed, for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team athletes that are part of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. Although the athletes came together to raise funds to keep the sports alive, the sport of snowboarding has hit a plateau. Conditions on the mountains are declining and the sport is becoming more expensive with the price of lift tickets high and equipment even higher, athletes said.
“With conditions being pretty poor nobody wants to put all that money into the sport purchasing equipment and travel,” said Olympian, Faye Gulini, 24, of Salt Lake City, Utah at Friday’s event.
The past two or three seasons have been the hardest on snowboarding. The training facilities and resorts need to rely on making handmade snow because there are less snowfalls .
“One year I think we had 50 percent of our competitions cancelled because we didn’t have enough snow to build the actual venue and build the courses,” said Gulini.
It’s hard for Olympic gold medalist, Kaitlyn Farrington, 26, to believe that snowboarding is dying, but with less snow prices at the ski resorts are going up.
“Just to go on to a resort it’s over $100 for a day ticket,” said Farrington, of Sun Valley, Idaho.
But Farrington and all the U.S. Team athletes have support from the United States Ski and Snowboard Association that helps pay for their travel and competitions. Farrington said she has strong sponsors that support her life outside of snowboarding so she doesn’t need to work on top of all of her training and competing.
Ross Powers, 37, was the 2002 snowboard half-pipe gold medalist and now coaches at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. He said the higher prices of equipment, lift tickets, and travel affects his students. With only 16 kids in his program this year, the number has fallen significantly.
“Snowboarding has kind of been on a standstill, definitely people are still getting into, but it doesn’t seem like it’s growing as big as it was back in the day,” he said.
Powers does have scholarships set up with the Level Field Fund that can help kids interested in pursuing a career in snowboarding, but the sport is still at a plateau. He said younger kids are getting into freestyle skiing because they can do the tricks and jumps as snowboarding without having to transition to a snowboard.
Tom Kelly, the USSA’s vice president of communications said, his organization works with the International Olympic Committee to bring new events to attract young athletes .
But without the support of the U.S. Team it is hard to get the funds to start snowboarding and to keep up with training, athletes said.
Fundraisers help with the money going towards coaches, event costs, salaries, camps, travel of staff and athletes, Kelley said.
“Each of our programs, be it alpine, freestyle, snowboarding, etc. is evaluated based on needs for that particular program to be competitive internationally,” said Kelly, who has been with the association for 30 years.
But funding only comes when you are at the top of your sport, said Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson, 26, of South Lake Tahoe, California. Anderson grew up with eight siblings and didn’t have that much money to support her snowboarding career.
“I was selling golf balls at the golf course and saving money for nationals,” said Anderson. “I could have really used the support of the U.S. Team when I was 12, 14, 16 years old.”
Anderson relied a lot on her sponsorships to make it to the Olympics. When she was younger it was tough to find the money to sustain her snowboarding.
With the prices rising on equipment and lift tickets it will be hard for skiing and snowboarding to rise back up again as these sports only attract a certain demographic of people, said athletes.
But Anderson believes the sport won’t die.
“People are going to want to ride the mountains forever,” said Anderson.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein rails against ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’ evil political parties at rally
Around 150 people rallied for the Green Party in the South Bronx Wednesday night where nominee Jill Stein pitched herself as an alternative to the “greater evil and the lesser evil” candidates in the 2016 presidential election.
“We’re looking at Hillary Clinton, who wants to start an air war with Russia over Syria, said Stein at the Hostos Community College Arts Center in the South Bronx. “We are looking at a climate which is in meltdown. One candidate believes in climate change, the other one doesn’t, but both of their policies will destroy the planet, so it doesn’t matter so much what you believe, it matters what you do.”
Stein’s running mate and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka and New York Senate candidate Robin Laverne Wilson were also at the rally.
Faye Gotlieb, 27, of St. George, Staten Island, said she had mainly been a Democrat supporter over the years, but felt she could no longer support the party when Bernie Sanders conceded the primary election.
“I feel like I can’t support Hillary Clinton based on her history and her policies,” she said. “I would like a better alternative—at this point, I think Jill Stein is actually the strongest candidate running, and the most progressive candidate running.”
Stein was not included in the debates because her national polling average of roughly 3 percent did not meet the 15 percent threshold set by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Political cartoonist Eliot Crown, of the East Village, said he believed the Republican and Democratic parties were conspiring to keep Stein from having a legitimate shot at winning the election, pointing to the fact that Stein was not included in the presidential debates.
Crown said Stein was a needed alternative to the other parties, which he alleged are driven by corporate interests.
Stein said the Democrats have been disingenuous in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’re looking at a crisis of racism,” Stein said. “The Democrats told their candidates, ‘Just pat Black Lives Matter on their heads and send them on their way. Don’t make any concessions.’
“That’s not how we’re going to solve this problem,” Stein said.
The Stein/Baraka ticket is on the ballot in 44 states, and the District of Columbia. The candidates qualified for write-in status in three additional states, which brings the number of states where voters can cast their ballot in support of the Green Party to 47.
“We’re looking at a crisis of immigration,” she said. “Donald Trump has said bar the gates to Muslims, but Hillary Clinton supported that policy towards Latinos. And the Democrats have been the party of deportation, detention and night raids.”
Paul Gilman, 57, of the South Bronx, is a spokesman for the New York Green Party on drug policy and was outside of the Hostos arts center demonstrating for the legalization of marijuana prior to the start of the rally.
Gilman said drug policy was one issue that was connected to other social and racial problems.
“As as the drug war itself, we’re totally aware of Black Lives Matter and what I call “the Michelle Alexander paradigm” of slavery to Jim Crow to the drug war,” Gilman said. “Once Jim Crow was collapsing, they reinvested in the drug war as a way of disenfranchising blacks, and some Latinos, but mostly blacks. They can’t vote; they lose their gun rights”
Asked how she responded to those who called her campaign a spoiler for the major progressive candidate in the race, Stein said abolitionist parties that stood up against slavery were also called spoiler parties.
“The establishment uses that name for anything they don’t like.” she said. “Right now we are looking at a race to the bottom between the greater evil and the lesser evil political parties.”
The interactive refugee camp map and life-size shelter model gave visitors real experience to look closer at refugees’ life. Photo by Ang Li
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has opened a new exhibition “Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter” which showcases how refugees live.
Bringing together architects, artists and designers, the exhibition explores the issue of refugee crisis through three angles, borders, shelters, and camp cities, which provided an opportunity for people to look closer into refugees’ lives.
According to United Nations, 65 million people globally are currently displaced due to conflict and persecution. Among them, 21 million have fled their countries and became refugees. In 2015, almost 24 people per minute were forced to leave their homeland.
Insecurities, constant movement, and endless fear that accompany these refugees are presented as a main theme at the exhibition.
The world map made up of wires, circuit boards and speakers at the right hand side of entrance caught Sowmya Lyes’s eyes immediately when she visited the museum yesterday.. As a student majoring in Design at School of Visual Arts, Lyes thought that the map showcased the refugee crisis as a global concern and the wires effectively depicted how entangled, trapped refugees are..
An actual model of refugee camp sponsored by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was also on display.
“I feel related to those people when seeing this life size refugee shelter as in how difficult it would be to manage a family in such a small space and with such limited resources,” said Deval Mistry, of India. “We can empathize with them about the state they are in right now.”
Andrea Nogales, 34, an elementary school teacher, was impressed with the background sound on site. To simulate the real condition of refugees, the exhibition was surrounded with a harsh, continuous sound similar to civil air defense alarm that refugees have to hear over and over again every day.
“The siren makes you feel like you are on alert all the time and resonate with refugees on one of the reasons why they left their original homes,” Nogales said.
Another eye-opening element is the large refugee camp map projected on the floor. After realizing the impossibility of making a conventional map of an actual refugee camp in Northern Iraq, artists spent a year working on the camp and documenting the spaces. They also built an interactive display that allows visitors to virtually walk through and even enter into the camp with narratives unfolding in front of them. By utilizing multimedia techniques, this pathway is able to tell a personalized story vividly about each refugee to visitors.
“We intend to tell people not only living conditions of these refugees, but also that there is a life for them,” said Sean Anderson, associate curator of MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design.
Refugees don’t know how long they’ll be in a camp. The average length of is 17 years.
“They have a strong belief that they’ll go home one day,” he said. “But if you look at the two images here: one is the world’s largest refugee camp in Northern Kenya, Dadaab, and the other is their destroyed homeland back in Syria last year. Which one looks more like a ‘home’?”
The exhibit also dealt with their education. Over half of the world’s forcibly displaced population is children, making education a key concern in refugee shelters. The tools like School-in-a-Box, distributed by UNICEF and UNHCR, contains materials to set up a makeshift school for up to 80 students.
“As a teacher myself, School-in-a-Box is appealing to me,” Nogales said. “It seemed awesome that we were able to at least provide the refugee camps with the tools they need to have some education as they continue to struggle through their day-to-day life.”
The refugee camp map also showed clear classification in different sections based on which place they were originally from.
“They have made it their home,” Mistry said, “They do follow their own lifestyle that they used to back home. They have given in that it is their new home, but the hope is still there.”
The exhibition will be run through January 22nd.