Olympic skier to represent Vanuatu in the fight against climate change
Despite living in Utah, Jeanee Crane-Mauzy won’t wear the American flag on her uniform in the future. The Park City skier will represent the island nation of Vanuatu in the 2026 Winter Olympics — and in the country’s fight against climate change.
In 2012, Crane-Mauzy competed at the Youth Olympic Games as the first and only female member of the United States Ski Team. Now as she prepares to compete on the world stage yet again, she’ll be representing a country she has yet to visit.
Like many winter sports athletes, Crane-Mauzy has long been keenly aware of the effects of climate change, but felt she didn’t have the platform to make a positive difference.
“In skiing and snowboarding, everyone is some level of a climate activist because we’ve noticed the difference,” Crane-Mauzy said. “The places that used to have bigger glaciers, we’ve seen them shrinking in our lifetime, we’ve felt the warmer weather, we’ve seen less snow, it’s been affecting our training and competitions.”
An avid traveler, Crane-Mauzy was living in Paris last fall when she was introduced to a representative of Vanuatu at a climate change event. She was able to meet citizens and delegates from the Oceanic country at the World Expo in Dubai in the spring and has now stepped into an official advocacy role for the nation.
“It’s been super interesting for me and a really good growing experience between the two of us to actually have more of a platform and be working with people that are doing something to make a difference,” Crane-Mauzy said. “Before I felt like I was mostly talking.”
Crane-Mauzy will help to represent Vanuatu at the general United Nations initiative for climate justice assembly in September as the country pushes to hold the rest of the world accountable for climate change.
“That’s to get the International Court of Justice to do a ruling on holding countries accountable for the humanitarian aspect that their pollution has on more vulnerable countries such as Vanuatu,” Crane-Mauzy said. “It’s really inspiring, a small country that a lot of Americans haven’t heard of to really be making a global stand and making a more global name for themselves to be like ‘enough is enough.'”
With an estimated population in 2020 just over 300,000 people, Vanuatu has half the population of Utah County.
While Vanuatu is ranked nowhere near the top of the list in terms of countries with the highest yearly CO2 emissions, this small South Pacific Ocean nation certainly feels the brunt of rising global temperatures.
Vanuatu has been ranked the world’s most disaster-prone country in an annual WorldRiskReport published by the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security. The country commonly experiences cyclones, volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts and rises in sea levels.
“A lot of people get injured or killed or lose their homes their towns. They go through famine and they go through intense heat waves,” Crane-Mauzy said. “That affects not only the planet but the people on the planet.”
Vanuatu was one of the last countries to re-open its borders after the COVID-19 pandemic, finally allowing — just this month — vaccinated visitors to enter for the first time in two years. Crane-Mauzy plans to visit the country in August in the hope of further connecting with the country and its residents.
“Whether you’re on the top of a snowy mountain or on an island beach the climate crisis is affecting all of us,” Crane-Mauzy said. “As global citizens, we have to come together to combat it together.”