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Black skiers are fighting for their Olympic dreams on the slopes

If you take an informal survey of American Alpine skiers/snowboarders, most will be able to name an organization that offers winter sports exposure to Black and Hispanic children living in urban areas.

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Black skiers are fighting for their Olympic dreams on the slopes

There are many programs that aim to develop a diverse group of snowboarders and skiers, whether it's indoor halfpipes in New Jersey or Rocky Mountain slopes in Colorado and Wyoming.

Where are the Black and Hispanic American Winter Olympics athletes?

The U.S. Alpine Ski Team in Beijing is completely white. Freestyle and snowboarders from the United States include American Asian riders, but no Hispanic or Black.

Ryan Cochran Siegle, an American super-G Beijing silver medalist, said that "it's incredibly unfortunate." "We all want ways to bridge the gap between minorities and allow them to ski.

Both the past and present of alpine sports work against this goal. They are white and elitist and were born in Europe's mountains. They thrive in mountain communities with little racial and ethnic diversity.

There is also the issue of cost. A day of skiing costs $100, plus travel and equipment rental. Owning your own equipment can be more expensive. Access to good resorts and wealth can make a big difference in your ability to go from recreational-level to Olympic level participation.


Black skiers are fighting for their Olympic dreams on the slopes

BEIJING (AP), -- An informal survey of American Alpine skiers and snowboarders reveals that most people can name an organization that promotes winter sports to Black and Hispanic children living in urban areas.

There are many programs that aim to develop a diverse group of snowboarders and skiers, whether it's indoor halfpipes in New Jersey or Rocky Mountain slopes in Colorado and Wyoming.

Where are the Black and Hispanic American Winter Olympics athletes?

The U.S. Alpine Ski Team in Beijing is completely white. Freestyle and snowboarders from the United States include American Asian riders, but no Hispanic or Black.

Ryan Cochran Siegle, an American super-G Beijing silver medalist, said that "it's incredibly unfortunate." "We all want ways to bridge the gap between minorities and allow them to ski.

Both the past and present of alpine sports work against this goal. They are white and elitist and were born in Europe's mountains. They thrive in mountain communities with little racial and ethnic diversity.

There is also the issue of cost. A day of skiing costs $100, plus travel and equipment rental. Owning your own equipment can be more expensive. Access to good resorts and wealth can make a big difference in your ability to go from recreational-level to Olympic level participation.

Bode Miller said that it's one of the reasons why so few skiers make it to the Olympics. His six Olympic Alpine medals, which are the most ever won by an American skier, are proof of this.

Miller stated, "If your family doesn't ski or you were not exposed to it during your childhood, it's very unusual." "You have to be pushed by your friends."

Miller and others believe that the solution to the lackluster diversity in snowboarding and skiing is to provide access to the slopes to underserved communities.

Miller is part of a group that works to create indoor ski facilities in the United States.

Advocates claim that programs like the two-day-a week programs that make it possible for Hispanic and Black children to have a positive impact on the snow are making a difference. However, the Olympics is still far from being a success.

The cost of intensive training at elite boarding schools and academies can make it more likely that a young athlete will be selected for the Olympic team. Advocates and athletes have admitted that the programs don't address this socioeconomic barrier.

This isn't just for snowboarding and skiing. Most winter sports still celebrate racial diversity.

Beijing has only one Black figure skating champion. American Erin Jackson, a Black woman in speedskating, won the gold medal on Sunday. Other events offer long shot opportunities for medals to Black and Hispanic competitors.

In fact, there are some people of color participating in the Beijing Olympics' ski events. They come from the African and Caribbean countries of Ghana, Nigeria Eritrea, Eritrea, Jamaica. Haiti sent Richardson Viano, a skier, to China as the first ever winter Olympian.

Jean-Pierre Roy was present Sunday to see Viano compete in the giant ski slalom at Yanqing's National Alpine Ski Center. Roy has participated in six World Championships, but Viano's pioneering participation in the sport has sparked Haitians' interest.

He said, "There must be dreams." "Without dreams, there is no progress."

Viano learned to ski in France, after being adopted by a French family. Most of the African and Caribbean athletes in the Games were either born or raised in countries that have ski slopes or training facilities.

Sophie Goldschmidt is the head of U.S. Sophie Goldschmidt, head of U.S. Skiing, stated that inclusion is a core value of her organization, but acknowledged the obstacles to progress on skier diversity.

She said, "Whether it's cost prohibitive or exclusive for other reasons it's something I want to change."

An audit in 2021 of diversity, equity, and inclusion of U.S. The organization's skiers revealed that it is almost entirely white. Only 1% of the staff were identified as people from color, and all its coaches and board members are white.

Seba Johnson saw skiing for the first time on a small black-and-white TV she had in her Fredericksted apartment. It was on the island St Croix. It was amazing. She was 5 years old when she saw it in person and decided that she wanted to become a ski racer.

Johnson, nine years later, broke all barriers at the 1988 Calgary Games. She became the first Black woman to compete in a Winter Games and the youngest at 14. Johnson relied on the support of ski equipment companies, celebrities, and other donors and was able, despite socioeconomic barriers, to train far less than her competitors.

Johnson, 48, stated in an interview that "no one should have to beg" for the opportunity to do what they desire.

She competed at the Olympics again, representing the U.S Virgin Islands, but there was not another Black woman in an Olympic Alpine skiing event until 30 years later when Sabrina Simader, Kenya, participated in the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. It was "heartbreaking" to see that Black representation in skiing is still so low.

Andre Horton, an Alaskan-born skier, was the first Black American to be on the U.S. team in 2001. However, he has never competed in the Olympics. He recalls being often the only Black person on the slopes.

He said, "I went to a ski race and saw another Black kid."

He was introduced to the National Brotherhood of Skiers by another skier, who is a Black-led organization that advocates for more representation in winter sports. He saw thousands of skiers similar to him at the Aspen convention, Colorado. The other attendees were amazed by Horton's national ski team uniform.

He recalled riding a chairlift that day with a 70 year-old Black woman who made it clear how important Black representation was to the sport.

"She said that she was not allowed to ski when I was your age."

Henri Rivers, the president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, said that this is exactly why it exists. It was founded in 1973 by Ben Finley and Art Clay as a recreational skier.

Rivers spoke of the skiers, mostly teens, who learned how to ski from the brotherhood. They don't realize the obstacles that are being placed in their path to hinder their progress.

Rivers stated that even then, the Black and Hispanic skiers who are coming out of the pipeline are not ready to compete for Olympic spots. He said that they would do well if the wider ski community supported them and considered them the future of the sport.

Johnson is in agreement.

She said that to ensure that more Black, aspirant Olympic skiers are interested in the sport, adults must care enough to provide a pathway for them to succeed. It can't be further away than watching it on TV.


 

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