Viral video of athletes skiing, snowboarding Mauna Kea sparks outrage

Skiing on Mauna Kea? The Native Hawaiian community is offended
Viral video of athletes skiing, snowboarding Mauna Kea sparks outrage

HAWAII ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The stunt itself is shocking: Three professional athletes from Europe on snowboards and skis carve paths down the rocky mountains side of Mauna Kea.

It makes for stunning video, but some in the Native Hawaiian community are finding it highly insensitive and insulting.

The video, which has since gone viral, has garnered comments from people saying it looks cool, and, “We ride it when there’s snow, what’s the difference.”

But this is also the mountain where thousands of people have been protesting for years to keep the Thirty Meter Telescope from being built, where activists have been arrested and have staged weeks-long protests.

Critics say skiing on the mountain is simply disrespectful.

“Growing up in Hawaii, I consider Mauna Kea a sacred place,” said Kalihi resident Ke’olina Naulangi. “And it’s a place that has history and a place that was sacred to our ancestors.”

“I was just very disturbed and angry," said Mike Sessions, who runs tours on Mauna Kea. "There’s video proof, I feel like they should be held accountable in some way.”

One of the riders said they were hoping for snow, but when they showed up, there was none in sight.

Two photographers posted the clips on Instagram where they were instantly shared around the world. And just as quick, the criticism flowed in.

“There’s no snow there so there really is no reason for them to be skiing like that and they’re destroying the dirt and who knows, there could be burial grounds there. And they’re not from here. So I just don’t think they have any idea of what they’re doing," Kalihi resident Lisa May said.

“To the locals, when we see that, we’re like what are you doing? Why are you skiing down a place that’s sacred to us, a place that has mana, a place that just has power,” Naulangi added.

One of the athletes is sponsored by Red Bull. Hawaii News Now has reached out to the company for comment on the post and are still waiting on a response.

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