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Athletes : Surfing

Can Idle No More Save the Great Bear Rainforest?

ProtestsPipeline protest. Photo: Dogwood Initiative

Amid an increasingly conservative Canadian government focused on exploiting the land's resources, the country's indigenous people have risen up through a grassroots protest movement called Idle No More.

The Idle No More protest movement was born in late 2012, started by four activists in Saskatchewan who wanted to garner support to rally against a wide-ranging bill, C-45, that would remove significant tribal authority over Canadian waterways by overhauling the country's 130-year-old Navigable Waters Protection Act. But the bill passed just before Christmas. Its passage has only stoked the movement, which is also galvanizing indigenous groups not only across Canada but those in the U.S. and South America, as well. Demonstrations linked to the movement have sprung up from California to Wisconsin to Maine.

Environmental justice is one of the major themes being addressed, and in British Columbia, protests are focused on Northern Gateway, a proposed pipeline that would run 730 miles, traversing the Rockies and Coast mountain ranges and hundreds of waterways before its terminus in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest contiguous tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world.

While the press in the United States has not covered the protests a great deal, Idle No More is major news in Canada and the movement gained significant momentum via Twitter (which you'll see by searching #idlenomore). Idle No More protests, often taking the form of flash-mob style drum circles in shopping malls and other public areas, have been attracting thousands of participants and resulting in civil disobedience arrests.

While the links between Idle No More and the Northern Gateway protest movement are informal, they're part of a wider reaction among indigenous Canadians to an increasingly conservative government, says Chris Darimont, professor at University of Victoria Geography Department and science director for Raincoast Conservation.

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Discovering Mavericks

This past Sunday, 43-year-old big-wave surfer Peter Mel nabbed his first victory in the Mavericks Invitational. Mel, a Santa Cruz native, has surfed the competition since the inaugural contest in 1999. The fabled break that creates monster waves off the California coast near Half Moon Bay had quiet beginnings after Jeff Clark first started riding its giant faces in the winter of 1975, but it has recently garnered a lot of attention. This past fall Twentieth Century Fox released Chasing Mavericks, a biopic about the late surfer Jay Moriarity, with Gerard Butler starring as his mentor, Frosty Hesson.

This February at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, director Josh Pomer will premiere Discovering Mavericks, an 80-minute documentary on the evolution of the break. The film features interviews with Clark, Mel, and Shane Dorian, among others. "The true story of Mavericks is way heavier than any Hollywood movie could imagine," according to the trailer.

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Big-Wave Surfer Peter Mel Wins Mavericks Invitational

Roughly 14 years after first competing, California native Peter Mel took home his first Mavericks Invitational victory in intermittent but powerful waves up to 30 feet. The 43-year-old big-wave veteran, who grew up in Santa Cruz, surfed the inaugural event in 1999. "I’m satisfied with just competing at this high of a level at such an extremely difficult spot to surf. That already gives me a great sense of accomplishment," Mel told Surfer. "But this is one event that I’ve been competing in and wanting to win for so many years, so for that it feels really, really amazing."

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Michael Ho Is 55 Years Old and Still Surfing Monster Waves

MichaelHoMichael Ho surfing Second Reef Pipe. Photo: Billabong XXL/Rusty Russell

In November of 2012, Surfer posted the 28 invitees to the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, a 28-year-old event in which the world's best giant riders drop into 25-foot-plus swells to honor the late Hawaiian surfer. Left off the list, though included as an alternate, was 55-year-old North Shore veteran Michael Ho. Commenters sounded off:

"Mike Ho should be in before anybody wats goin on?? He has been in the first one invited every year and actually knew Eddie Aikau blown!"

"I’m confused why Mike Ho is an alternate?"

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