Olympic medalist and pro snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler is giving her first formal presentation on global warming at the University of Colorado on Monday night.
After becoming an advocate for global warming awareness and eco-friendly living more than four years ago, the X Games champion and Maxim magazine model is taking it a step further.
Who: Gretchen Bleiler
When: 6-9 p.m. Monday
Where: Glenn Miller Ballroom, University Memorial Center, CU campus, Boulder
"I'm obviously not a scientist or a specialist on climate change, but I think I have a unique and personal perspective that can help convey the message," Bleiler said in a recent interview. "I live it."
As she travels the world "chasing snow," Bleiler has seen it all when it comes to powder -- including diminishing snow packs.
"It's easy as a snowboarder to talk about it because my livelihood depends on snow and that's what's going to be the first thing to go if we don't do something," Bleiler said.
The Colorado native -- who won a sliver medal at the Turin Olympics in 2006, and repeatedly has claimed gold at the X Games -- said she is hoping to use her career as a snowboarder to connect with students who share her love for nature and the outdoors, and she couldn't think of a better place to start then CU-Boulder. Bleiler said she wants to continue doing similar presentations about global warming and sharing her knowledge with people across the world.
Monday's event begins with a DJ at 6 p.m. and snowboarding video clips playing on the walls of the Glenn Miller Ballroom. Fabian DeGarbo, a CU graduate and senior manager of Global Sustainability for ESPN, will speak briefly before introducing Bleiler at 7 p.m. Bleiler will answer questions, give away gear from her sustainable clothing line and sign autographs after her presentation.
Scot Woolley, the CU Environmental Center's event organizer, said the center is looking to capitalize on Bleiler's passion and popularity.
"We really want to engage students that aren't already engaged in the global warming discussion," Woolley said. "Gretchen is so loved in Colorado and that gives us leverage to involve people who otherwise wouldn't come to a climate change event."
Georgia Pyle, CU junior and vice president of campus snowboard club Boulder Freeride, said global warming is not a priority for most students, even those who depend on the snow.
"I mean I don't think they'll sell out of tickets or anything, but I do think people will come to check out Gretchen," Pyle said.
But Woolley said the Environmental Center is expecting a packed house of at least 900 during Monday's event. He suggests getting there early to ensure admission to the free event.
Sean Sutherland, a CU junior majoring in environmental studies, said he's excited about having such a well-known activist talking to students.
"I definitely try to live green," Sutherland said. "And I think a lot of students here do, too, so she could make a pretty big impact in getting people to act, especially with so many skiers and snowboarders on campus."
Bleiler said her biggest challenge for the night will be getting students to take her pledge to reduce their carbon footprints.
"I want to inspire not just eco-conscious thinking, but also to take action and see how easy it can be," Bleiler said.
At the end of the night, Bleiler will ask students to take a pledge to stop using plastic bottles, plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam containers -- all steps she already has implemented into her own daily life.