S1 E1 Connor Ryan - Good Relations

Kris00:03

Hey everyone. Thank you for joining me on theBIPoC Outside Podcast. I'm Kris Cromwell. And today we're sitting down with Connor Ryan. He's a professional free skier, Natives Outdoors athlete, Protect our Winters ambassador and a proud Hunkpapa Lakota citizen. So let's get into it. Shall we? Connor. Thank you so much for joining us today. It's lovely to have you

Connor00:31

Hau Mitakuye Pi. It's good to be on the show.

Kris00:34

Right on, so to get us started, let's talk a little bit about yourself. You got introduced to skiing, pretty young.

Connor00:42

Yeah, I first got on the hill at about like six or so, and lucky to be from, from Boulder, Colorado, where there's access just just 30 minutes away from where I lived and yeah, it allowed me to start pretty early.

Kris00:56

Awesome. Awesome. So tell me so far, what's been your best day on the snow.

Connor01:02

I mean, that's hard to say I've had so many, so many days on snow. I would say my favorite or the favorite that comes to mind at the moment would be last year we had a day, just an extraordinarily deep. day at Winter Park where I think we have like about 20 or 30 inches come in overnight. And there was just kind of the perfect alignment of people that I was with that day.

I got to share my experience with Ellen Bradley. Who's one of my best friends and back country partners. And it was her first time really getting to be at Winter Park. And I think that's one of the most magical things is when you can share a place that you love with someone on.

its best possible day.

Kris01:43

Nice. Nice. So that's what your ski in these days is Winter Park?

Connor01:47

Yeah, that's my home mountain for the most part. I mean, I'm, I'm lucky to get to travel quite a bit as someone who, you know, has the privilege to ski for a living. But yeah, if I could pick any, any one place that feels the most like home when I'm on two sticks it's Winter Park.

Kris02:04

Right on, so you are one of the few people who talks a lot about cultural approaches to skiing, and you've described skiing as ceremony. Can you, describe what that means?

Connor02:18

Yeah for me, I think it's like, you know, I come from Lakota culture where dancing is like of many of our ceremonies especially like our, our most central ceremonies Sundance. And so for me, it's skiing is sort of like a dance of its own, right? It's these repetitive motions that, that connect us to a place.

And for me, it really showed me like, it, it allows me to connect with the same elements that the ceremonies in my culture are centered around the, you know, the water and grandmother earth and you know, that, that just connection to, to yourself and the planet. But it happens in a little bit more of a contemporary way.

But it, it allowed me to see a lot of those same lessons that come from the cultural ceremonies in a new light, because I think sometimes as somebody who's an Indigenous person who grew up in an urban and suburban area, like it's sometimes hard to really feel like completely connected

but skiing was one of those first places for me, where I just felt absolutely immersed in my relationship with the landscape. And at the same time, it was, it was a way to move in gratitude. And in celebration of that,

Kris03:32

I love that. I love that. In 'My Connection', you talked a lot about that, about relationship with the land and about skiing as medicine, and maybe not everyone has the language to talk about that, but they feel it.

Connor03:48

Right.

Kris03:49

Can you, explain that a little bit?

Connor03:51

Well, I think skiing is like this really interesting sport in that like so many people who ski end up making this, this lifelong bond. With the sport, you know, and it's like, if you play basketball or soccer or something, like you might only play for your, for your few years in middle school or high school or college or whatever.

But people don't have like a relationship with it after their time in competitive sport ends that totally controls their life in a way. And with skiing, you see people move across the country, to a whole new place to live in an entirely different landscape to take up a different lifestyle, set aside some of their capitalistic goals, just to be in connection with the land through sport.

And I think like any sport that makes people bond in such a such a deep way, like there's something in my perspective, that's kind of like unescapably spiritual about that sport. But what I would find so often is that skiers as a whole coming from typically a more white Western colonized affluent kind of background, didn't really have a language for understanding.

Relationship to the land in the same way. And for me, as, as a Lakota, like in relearning my language, everything about that languages is about relationship and relationship to the elements of Unci Maka, grandmother earth in a really like unique way. And so for me, it made me see like, okay, you guys are all experiencing something.

That, that to me is like, Indigenous peoples had such a grasp. And so for me, I think like talking about that through, through skiing is one of my favorite ways to kind of like decolonize and Indigenize. This, this culture of this sport that's happening, because if you can understand the relationship to the land in such a way that it changes your life and dictates what you want to do, anytime that it precipitates you've got a pretty deep, deep connection to the land and it just takes learning.

What, like, what are the steps then to be in reciprocity with what that relationship with the land is giving you?

Kris06:11

Yeah. Yeah. And that, that goes back to when you were talking about how Mike Whelan approached you for 'Paha Sapa'. He said it was because it's your traditional territory and he wanted to understand skiing in a better way. So for those of us that are not Indigenous, like what advice do you have for us to be in good relation with the land and whose people whose lands were guests on.

Connor06:33

You know, like it's, it's such a deep kind of subject to go into, because it's like saying that as like saying like, you know, like how do you be in good relationship with, with your partner or your parents or your siblings or whatever. Like, everybody's going to have a kind of different approach to, to how you do that.

And so I think the most important thing is like prioritizing what your unique gifts and abilities are and making that central in your life. know what I mean? Like if you're the type of person who's incredible artists, then, then maybe the way that you must love and honor a person that you value in your life is by, you know, painting them a picture right.

Of a memorable time together, like whatever it is. And so I think like learning to view our relationship with the land more akin to how we have relationship with, you know, other beings that we view as sentient in our Western worldview is kind of a great way to start curving it in that direction. And then to make it like a little bit more literal, you know, like, I have a film coming out with REI.

Very shortly. And this is kind of the theme of the whole thing is like, how do you be a better relative to place and people? And so there's a lot of ways to do that. But for me, what I took on was learning the environmental history of a place. Learning how you fit into that now you know, we all through the capitalistic means through which we're kind of forced to live, whether we choose to or not are going to have some. Like extractive kind of relationship with the land. So learning how to like better for that learning how to advocate for policy solutions at a systemic level, that steer that in the right direction are very important. And then the other thing I would say is like, it get involved with Indigenous communities where your at.

Learn from them because like the, the best way to know how to leave a landscape beautiful is to talk to the people who've done it for thousands of years. And that, that for me, was something that I wanted to do, you know, even as a Lakota, person who skis on.

Ute territory, even being Indigenous wasn't just enough.

Like I wanted to talk to the people who are Indigenous, like exactly where I'm at, because my people are from the plains. Their people are from the mountains. I have something to learn from them when I'm in the mountains. And I think all skiers need to humble ourselves and learn some traditional ecological knowledge and how to incorporate that into the systemic change that we want to call for.

Kris09:01

Yeah, absolutely. I love the idea and it's not, you know, it's not a part of my worldview, but I'm learning and I'm listening. The idea that the land can be a partner, we're in a relationship as opposed to taking from it's. It's more reciprocal.

Connor09:18

Yes, absolutely. That that reciprocity for me is like the central thing, because it's really easy as a skier to tell what you're getting from your relationship with the land. And I think a lot of people have a harder time defining directly what it is that they, that they do to give back. And even I had a difficulty doing that.

And so it's definitely a journey. Like, like learning to find balance in any relationship is.

Kris09:42

Yeah, so. As part of this, why you are doing advocacy with Protect our Winters. Talk to me about your, your advocacy with them.

Connor09:53

Yeah, I mean, I think that's, that's a huge motivation in it for me is like, when I look at like what's happening To the land as a whole I think like the biggest remedy for it isn't to like, you know, go buy an electric car or the only ride your bicycle to the mountain in order to ski like those, those small individual actions.

The idea that those are what creates the change we need is like kind of directly comes from the fossil fuel companies, inventing those ideas of an individual carbon footprint and things like that. So for me, I wanted to affect policy change at a larger level and Protect our Winters is the group that, that does that on behalf of.

The outdoor state people who want to get outside and whether you're whether you're skiing or snowboarding or trail running or, you know, just hiking or hunting or whatever it might be. That's, that's the group that advocates for those of us who are looking to lobby and create actual change, you know, what the level of national federal law in order to protect the landscapes. I give us these amazing connections and ultimately, you know, give us our life itself.

Kris11:05

Yeah, it seems like, you know, some of the solutions we, we hear over and over again, buy an electric car, for example like those aren't available to everybody, those solutions.

Connor11:16

Right. Exactly. And that's, that's so much of like what taught me these environmental lessons. It's like coming from an Indigenous background. A lot of my greatest teachers of environmental lessons are, are people who, you know, live on a reservation where like, there's not a Tesla dealership on a reservation.

I got news for you. Right. And that's not how it works. You know, that's not the solutions.

that are, that are most available to us, but at the same time, most of these people will have like a very integrated understanding of. Environmentalism that is much older than the term environmentalism. And I think that's an important thing when we're looking at like a lot of these narratives on how to protect the planet that are presented to us through this kind of like mainstream culture right now are really new ideas.

And for me, I think like there's a lot of fallacy in thinking like we should go to new untested ideas. Of how to protect the land when there's cultures who have these legacies of protecting the land in such a way that, that, you know, colonizing peoples could come here and say like, oh, this is a wilderness area.

No, one's even been here before. And it's like, no, we just knew a better way to live. And that was such an integral part of our cultural understanding. Leave no trace, or, whatever you want to call it or, or learning to leave a trace that leaves a positive impact on the environment. When you're talking about like ecologically centered fire practices that Indigenous peoples had and things like that, like it's, it's just something like, we don't have time to try something new necessarily.

And so we've got to push some of the white supremacy out of science that says like, oh, it's only science. If it comes from these universities and these kinds of papers and blah, blah, blah, we have to discard those notions and say, Indigenous people did this for thousands of years and it works. Trust us, listen to us, let us implement these things.

There isn't enough time to mess around. And so that's, that's how I feel when it comes to a lot of these practices. This is just like, Land Back is the only solution in a lot of these,

Kris13:32

It feels like many people more than many people don't realize how many of the sentiments have been co-opted from Indigenous culture. The leave no trace, take only pictures. A lot sentiments , you know, are being presented to us as a new fabulous idea, but these are not new.

Connor13:52

Right. And I think like, there's just like a history of that in, and that's like, what colonization does, right. Is like, if you just look at it across time, like anybody who's done it to anybody from the Romans to the British, to whoever you, you take all the best ideas. Of somebody else's culture and claim them as your own.

And as you rewrite history, you never acknowledged any of your own missteps. And it's like, there's so many basic ideas that like, as we look back are rooted in Indigenous culture, like something that is profoundly. I don't know, humorous to me and enlightening on like what the process of thought in the world really is, is that when, you know, the first colonists in America were pushing west and they encountered Indigenous tribes, you can find in most of the journals that they were appalled that Indigenous people bathed every day. Right? So like the idea of bathing every day comes from Indigenous cultures. Right. And they were like, this is insane. These savages jumped in the river every morning. They do a sweat lodge and steam off and then rinse off in the river. Like, this is so absurd. Why can't they just cover themselves in perfume, which comes from, you know, like dead whales, like the rest of us and be advanced.

And it's like, Hmm. Yeah.

Try to tell me now that like bathing every day, it doesn't make sense, like washing your hands. Right. Things like that. Like the. Conflicts that my tribe had with the us Calvary and the U S government was because settlers along the Oregon trail, didn't understand fundamentally that you couldn't let livestock die next to a river.

Right. And so that's the original, one of the original rifts between the Lakota and the U S government is saying, stop letting people let, let livestock die next to a river. But that wasn't a principle that was integrated into colonial society or European society at the time, right? These are societies that have just been devastated by the black plague in places where they're throwing their waste into the street and into the river.

That's the same people live in and drink from. So like basically all of the environmental basics, hygienic basics, like so many things that we operate on now as a society. And we just think are, come from. Colonization and capitalism, like everything else do not like they come from Indigenous ideas and the same is true.

When you talk about like a prescribed burn out in the forest, like we've been doing that for thousands of years. And so, yeah, I think like learning to trust us and get back to those things you know, it was going to be one of the ultimate tests of our time when we look at these environmental issues facing everyone.

Kris16:35

Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's funny to think of that. Now you say, you know, wash your hands for the last 18 months. That's all anyone's been talking about is like hand hygiene. And and it seems like every person who put together their own narrative about it talks about it. Like it's something brand new.

Connor16:55

Right. Exactly. And that's, that's the thing about, I don't know any of these basic ideas that we need to get back to. It's like, they're not new.

Like we need water more than we need oil, like going a day without gasoline. Like that, that sucks. That would be unfortunate. Right? Like you gotta, you gotta walk all the way to town, but damn like, you make it, But I can tell you from someone whose cultural, you know, initiation practices include having a fast from food and water, you would much rather have food and water than having gasoline.

And so we need to do something, some massive course correction to prioritize basic things like clean water and clean air into the forefront of our priorities as, as a collective and as a nation. And for me, I think like starting that conversation with skiers, It was a really easy place to start, because these are people who are already in love with the snowpack that becomes all of our rivers and lakes and streams, and they just love it for a different reason.

So it's like, okay, keep protecting it for the reasons you like. And let's expand upon this and let's realize these are Indigenous ideas primarily.

Kris18:02

Absolutely. Absolutely. You are not just an advocate with Protect our Winters. You're also an ambassador for Natives Outdoors, and you guys just announced an amazing scholarship program.

Connor18:15

Yeah. Yeah. I'm really excited about it. Natives Outdoors teamed up with, with Ikon Pass this year and we're going to be giving away 10 Ikon passes to Indigenous folks who apply for it across turtle island. And I'm pretty stoked on that because we've also been able to get some support from Smith and Patagonia and Salomon and 686 and hopefully a snowboard brand as well soon so that we can give everybody who receives this this pass we can give them, you know, skis and boots and bindings and outerwear and helmets and goggles so that the. You know, and we can take care of as many of the barriers to entry as we possibly can because that's, that's something for me that, that came up over and over is like, I was really privileged and lucky based on proximity, you know, that my mom attended the university of Colorado in Boulder through the Native American rights fund.

And that put us really close to this place where, you know, I was able to learn how to ski, but a lot of Native folks don't have that same opportunity. And, and it's an incredibly difficult sport to get into when you look at costs and things. And so, yeah, I wanted to address that from as many angles as possible, and I'm really stoked to have that, that kind of partnership and hope that it can, can grow and coming years.

You know, this whole sport happens on Native land and Native people have, you know, some of the very lowest rates of participation of any group. And I just. Couldn't couldn't go on any further on my own individual path as an Indigenous skier, without making sure I'm doing something more for my community.

That's something that's, that's central to who I am, but also to, you know, Lakota ethics and principles.

Kris20:06

Yeah. Yeah. Going back to another thing you said in Paha Sapa and just related to this there seems to be this, this notion that if you're not in one of the big resorts, you're not skiing. Like skiing only happens in, you know, these very specific places, but that's not at all true.

Connor20:26

Yeah. That's something that I really wanted to dispel and I kind of hope I have some with that film and with my next film because it's just like, it's one of those things. And I think like, it kind of comes from this. Romanticized presentation of nature that we get all the time and in a colonial world where it's like nature is X nature is y nature is z it's these things.

And in reality, for so many Indigenous cultures, we didn't have a word for nature, right. Because we never left nature. There was no, like, you know, it's easy to, I think be in the English language and be an athlete or an outdoor influencer, whatever, and be like, oh Yeah. like I'm so apart of nature, but I don't think most people can comprehend being so a part of nature that you don't even have a word for it.

Right? Like there, there is no dualism in so many Indigenous languages. And so I think for me, like, The same is kind of true for skiing. It's like anywhere that. Snow and a slope skiing becomes possible. And so it meant a lot for me to get to go ski in the Black Hills, in South Dakota and, you know, just have kind of an act of like reclaimation within that.

If that makes sense of being like it's snowed three feet here. And just because this isn't idolized by the ski industry doesn't mean we can't drop cliffs and get face shots and have an amazing time. And so we did that and then, you know, my, my next film 'Spirit of the Peaks' is mostly filmed in the San Juans of Colorado, which is like this, this beautiful chunk of Ute territory.

And there, there are some ski resorts in the area, but like not in quite as commercial of a way. And it's really one of the main scenes for primarily human powered skiing. And that's something that, you know, even though I'm on the content crew and work closely with Ikon pass I also really, really value human powered skiing.

And I think like, you know, the, the resort, however, big or small your resort is, I really see that as a gateway to building the skills, to be able to get out on the land yourself under your own power and, you know, make that connection with the landscape just between yourself and the land, you know, like a chairlift isn't even necessarily to be a skier

all you really need is. Skis. And that's kind of rooted in the Indigenous cultures in China and the Aleutian islands of Alaska, where they were skiing for tens of thousands of years before.

Kris23:09

Yeah. Yeah. I think chairlifts came from South America. I think they were originally used to move bananas

Connor23:16

interesting.

Kris23:17

It's a totally new technology. Like the first one in north America was in Sun Valley

Connor23:22

yeah. wow

Kris23:25

Going back to getting more folks out there. I mean, a lot of our listeners are, are just excited, right? Like they've seen videos but they've never really gotten out themselves or they've gotten out just a couple of times and they're starting to think through how can I do this?

How, how do I make this work for me? What kind of advice do you have for them?

Connor23:43

You know, like I think one of the biggest things is.really learning to kind of drop the judgment. That was the thing for me is like, it's really easy now that I'm a professional skier with like, all sorts of support from brands and things like that to like look the part and feel like I belong. But for a long time, I didn't and.

That didn't stop me from, from getting out, you know, when my jacket was duct taped together. And when You know, my skis were a little too small and all sorts of things like that. Like it, it didn't stop me from, from falling in love. And I think that's the biggest thing is like as a person, but especially if you're an Indigenous person, like you have a right to, to be on the land in no matter. What form. And I think like reclaiming that and finding your power and that is, is a really powerful medicine and tool. And so that's, that's something I'd definitely encourage people is like, let your relationship to the land and the skills that you're learning be paramount in your experience

Kris24:54

yeah. there any any resources that you would suggest you know, places people can go to get information, stuff like that?

Connor25:01

You know, like I, as far as like information, goes, I think.one of the primary things I'd encourage folks to do is like, you know, make sure before you get out into the back country, that you have built some skills around snow safety. And you know, there's a lot of like AIARE courses that you could do that through and they're, scholarships available to You know, different BIPoC folks.

And the other thing I would recommend too, is it's like an AIARE course is a little out of your range and you're trying to get into the back country. Theres an amazing program called 'Safe As' it's run by my friends, Elyse Saugstad and Michelle Parker and I've taught with them some in the past and they have that BIPoC scholarships as well.

And it's just like, the basics on how to use, you know, your beacon, your shovel, your probe, and know a little bit about identifying whether or not you're an avalanche terrain and things like that. And as far as people at like the, all the way beginner level, you know, like, definitely a lesson is something that's worth it and, you know, feel free to come apply for our scholarship.

It's open to the most beginner of folks and. Comes with a lesson for anyone who wants to, and all the gear and things like that. And so gladly accepting more applicants for that. And we especially need more youth applicants at the moment. So if, if you know how to ski and then got your stuff ready, but you've been wondering and how to get your kids into it, you know, feel free to, to apply for them and things like that?

as well.

Kris26:24

Amazing. And we'll have links to both of those things in the show notes. Absolutely.

Connor26:30

Great.

Kris26:33

On episode 17 of the Fifty Project, you, and the group had a really important conversation about mountain culture. And I'm wondering, like what positive changes are you seeing in ski mountain culture and, and what positive changes would you like to see have you yet to see.

Connor26:54

Yeah, Well, I'd say for one, like. I was really honored and stoked to be a part of the Fifty projects, because I think Cody series is a huge step in the right direction. And he's been a personal friend and mentor to me since I was on the show. And for me, I think it's really cool to see that evolution in. Someone who's one of the biggest names and idols of people in the sport.

And, you know, for him getting away from a bunch of helicopter powered skiing in the craziest places in the world, and instead moving on and. Going to even more beautiful places and doing it all on foot has has taught him a lot of cool stuff that has, you know, humbled him and changed his approach.

And a lot of that's available to see in the Fifty projects. I think that's a pretty cool thing. And so I think. One of the biggest changes is like, I think the more human powered skiing we do, like the better our sports going to get like mountains and landscapes are incredible teachers. And they'll teach you.

They'll humble. You they'll give you the lessons real quick, as soon as you're out there. So I think that's, that's one thing that's definitely moving in the right direction. You know, and I would say like the, the thing that needs to come along better after that, I think really comes on the part. The brands that makes getting possible as a whole need to do more, to invest in sustainability and do more to lobby, you know, for.

The changes that are going to keep the sport alive. Something that you see as like so many of these brands are so eager to shell out a bunch of money for new trams new chairlifts, new expansions of terrain, blah, blah, blah. And I, really wonder sometimes like you guys have like a elementary school understanding of climate science, because like I would not be investing. $50 million in expanding my terrain or adding chair lifts or trams or whatever. Right now, if I were any of these bands, I would spend that money to out lobby the fossil fuel industry, which is putting you as ski resorts out of business. And I think that's a major way that these brands need to step up and, you know, there are brands that support POW and I think that's awesome, but what's really important to note is that POW is an athlete led organization, right?

It started by Jeremy Jones. When you go to our summit, who are you going to meet? Mostly athletes and videographers and photographers and creatives. More so than brands. And I think that says a lot about the values that are instilled in mountain athletes, probably the experiences that we have. And I think brands need to come along with us and say, okay, we're going to take this seriously too.

And we're going to invest some serious money in making sure that we aren't put out of business by climate change. And it's one of those simple things that I've experienced by lobbying, which is like a lot of these. Politicians don't realize until you remind them that the tourism industry is way more profitable in states like Colorado.

Then the extractive industry and. There's way more sustainability in that you don't run. There's not a well of snow that you run out of the same way that there was oil in the ground that's going to run out. And so we need to invest in the things that, that don't run out. And that's a jobs, you know, that, that connect people with the land and allow people to appreciate beauty and, you know, building the infrastructure that makes those things better and more possible and more sustainable.

Kris30:39

Yeah, I off top without looking, I think POW had said that in the Rocky mountains alone, tourism is worth 54 billion a year billion would B

Connor30:50

right.

Kris30:51

that is a huge investment. That's a lot of people's livelihoods.

Connor30:56

Yeah, it's huge like I know here in Colorado, we have about 7% of the United States population and we have about 13% of the United States tourism jobs. And that's pretty directly dependent on our mountains here. And the busiest time in the mountains is a powder day. And so I think theres a big lesson in that, that, that our powder days are worth a lot more than our oil and gas reserves.

And keeping those in the ground is an investment in a much larger part of our, our state economy. And, you know, I try to push the Tribes to get more involved in the outdoor economy. And it's hard for me to do that when, when the government, you know, of this country and of this state and things like that.

Isn't investing in wanting to move in that same direction as well. So ending those fossil fuel subsidies and building green infrastructure is a huge investment in, in these sustainable industries.

Kris31:57

Absolutely. Absolutely. You've you've talked a little bit about what change you would like to see with brands. Talking back to the ski industry. You, I mean, you've got this huge platform. If you could say one thing backwards to the ski industry, to the resorts about a change you would like to see from them, what would you like to see from them?

Connor32:17

I mean, it's a tricky one because it's like resorts is like such a broad term. And like, you know, me personally, like I have a great relationship with Winter Park resort and the things like, oh, wow. I'd love to see other places following suit. You know, we're able to do this year which is that, you know, like celebrating you know, the, the Indigenous legacy of the place.

And there's a whole half of the mountain that's named after the Arapaho name for the valley that they're in. And all the runs are named after Arapaho chiefs and they made a blog post explaining all that. Love that kind of stuff. And they're working on land acknowledgements and programs to bring Indigenous people out and they have wind powered, chairlifts and things like that.

And it's like, okay, so we need a lot more of that. So it's hard to say like, as a whole resorts do this, because it's like, some of them?

are trying. And so, yeah, I mean, it's a really tricky thing. And then, you know, you have, like, on the other hand, you have. Epic pass and Vail resorts and stuff. It was like, I don't know if they've ever acknowledged anything about race at all.

And I, you know, I think a lot of their leadership and the leadership of a lot of resorts, like Sun Valley is one, for instance, I'm pretty sure they're they're owned by fossil fuel tycoons. And so it's like, there there's a lot of stuff like that. And so. My ultimate goal would be like, you know, so many of these resorts and I don't know about Sun Valley in particular.

I don't know like which ones are, which, but I'd love to work on like legislation down the line that because so many ski resorts are, are leasing. Public land. I think we should work on legislation that sets up rules about how that lease has to look. As far as environmental sustainability is concerned and you lose your lease.

If you don't take care of the land, I would be a pretty, pretty simple rule or like, you know, like you can't. You can't have a hand in both cookie jars there when it comes to being an oil tycoon and and a ski resort owner. I don't think like you should be able to lease the land if that's what you're doing.

I think like, it kind of goes back to like this whole extractive mentality of the land. That's a part of. You know, colonization that just absolutely needs to be re-examined. So there's a lot that needs to happen there. And I think like I'd love to see lands returned to Indigenous people for us to use for recreation and for us to manage recreation that already happens in some places like, like Sunrise and Ski Apache, where there's tribally owned ski resorts.

And so it's like, there's definitely so many models to be explored out there and changes that need to be made. But. Overall there. There's just gotta be like an accountability of the fact that like this ski industry is not going to exist much longer. If we don't do massive work on the climate front.

Kris35:16

No, and I love that. Bringing it right back down to accountability. I'm also really excited to hear about what you're doing at Winter Park. I mean, we're on this side of the border, so we haven't been in Colorado for a couple of winters and I don't think we're going to be traveling to far field this winter, but the opportunity presents I'd like to, I'd really love to see.

Connor35:37

Yeah. It's a beautiful place. If you don't like just an awesome mix of a mountain where you have like a whole family side, you've got an experts only huge moguls side. And then you've got a giant cirque of Alpine terrain that you're going to hike out into. And yeah. I love that it's a beautiful mountain and I love the fact that like, you know, I approached them last year about Indigenous issues and how to make that a part of what they do. And they were just extremely receptive. And, you know, I think that's, that's exactly what we, what we need to see.

more of. And I hope that they're that they're kind of a model for people to work off moving forward.

Kris36:18

Yeah, and I think we as consumers can affect that change as well by voting with our dollar

Connor36:24

absolutely. Yeah, I think that's, that's a huge part of you know, the choices that we have to make in the ski industry. For sure. There's the, the more you pay attention on social media, there's people who are talking about these things and working on these things and have environmental statements as a company.

Maybe they cut ties with.

You know, other brand or group because of. Their political views or whatever it might be. And I think like that those kinds of movements are powerful and asserting, you know, the, the stance of the ski industry as a whole is a really important thing that like, sorry, there isn't room for climate deniers in the ski industry.

Kris37:06

No. You said it yourself, you are quite calm, quite familiar with podcasts. You have been everywhere round these last few years interviews and magazines all over the place. So my last question for you is what's the one question you've always wanted to answer, but no one's ever asked you.

Connor37:23

Oh, that's really good. Wow. I don't even know. That's deep, I'd say right off the bat. I really liked one of your very first. It was your first. So your second question today about just like, what was my best day skiing? I think that's that's special. I appreciate that kind of stuff. Because it's an interesting balance as a skier, like, and an environmental advocate and an advocate for it, for my people in that Like everybody always wants to bring you out to, to do a land acknowledgement to do this and that as a native person.

And sometimes like the opportunities that mean the most to me are those like you know, like strictly as an athlete and being seen as that too that that's a really huge thing. So, I don't know if that answers the question all the way. I probably have to reflect on it. No, like I've answered so many questions at this point, but, but like that, like I, like, that's such a valuable part of the narrative right now too, is like dissolving some of the tokenism by just being like yo as a skier tell me about whatever it is. And that means a lot to, and helps, you.

know, all BIPoC folks, normalize our space within these industries to just be viewed and be valued as athletes as well. And that, that's a huge thing for me moving forward is like, I want to ski, you know, as well as anybody, I want to prove myself on all types of big mountain terrain and Yeah.

Just being seen that as an athlete, as well as a huge part of that for me.

Kris39:00

Yeah. I love that. And I feel that, so what's next. What's what's on the what's on the plate. What's coming up in the future.

Connor39:09

You know, like I said, I have this film premieres of the Vancouver International Mountains Film Festival on November 12th. 'Spirit of the Peaks'. So excited to, to have that coming out. And then as far as this winter's goals go for me, there's a lot of potential things on the table and we'll kind of see what works out.

A lot of it's under wraps at the moment in, you know, what, what sponsors and brands want to want to do. So I'll, I'll leave a little, a little vagueness in that sense, but I think my biggest goal for this season, honestly,