Back in October, I wrote a post about the lack of diversity among outdoor enthusiasts. I brought this up to my friend, Shereen Marisol Meraji (who reports on race for NPR), and we came up with the idea for a radio series on race and recreation. The first piece would be about the National Brotherhood of Skiers - a national black ski organization whose goals include getting more African-Americans out on the slopes.
The group holds a week-long ski summit every two years and, conveniently, this year's summit was at Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado - a mere four hour drive from Boulder. So last weekend, Shereen flew in from LA and we drove up to Aspen to meet with the founders and talk with black skiers from all over the country. Here's the story, which aired on today's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon.
I grew up skiing in Idaho and Wyoming and I don't ever remember seeing ANYONE of color out there. To come to Aspen and see so much diversity out there on the slopes was awesome. I want skiing to be something everyone feels welcome doing. But there was one point that we didn't have time to get into in this piece and that's cost. Skiing is just not a poor man's sport. The gear, the lift tickets (half-day at Aspen is $88), even just getting a cup of coffee on the mountain - it all adds up to a very expensive day.
I don't remember it being this pricey as a kid, or even in college. Did the cost of running resorts become that much greater? Does higher insurance play a role? Or is it just about making more money off people? Maybe that's the way the cookie crumbles now - you can't ski unless you're wealthy. And that's too bad, because I'm not sure there's anything quite like schussing down a powdery ski hill with blue skies above you. I'm not a great skier by any means but I do love being out there and wish everyone who wants to could have that opportunity.