Winter sports are popular activities for many Americans, but access to ski resorts isn't equal for everyone. According to data from the National Ski Areas Association, about 88% of visitors to ski areas in the U.S. during the 2019-20 season were white, while less than 2% were Black.
There are many factors leading to this disparity — the high cost of participation, geographic and logistical restrictions, and a lack of marketing toward Black Americans all contribute.
In the latest episode of The Podium podcast from NBC Sports (below), this issue of equal access to the slopes was explored in further detail.
Andre Horton, a pioneer among Black skiers, is one of the athletes featured on the podcast. During the early 2000s, he became the first able-bodied Black American to join the U.S. Ski Team, and as he traveled around the country to compete, it was rare for him to see other skiers who looked like him.
Some organizations, such as the National Brotherhood of Skiers, are working to change this by finding promising Black athletes and supporting them in their development. One such athlete is Brian Rice, an up-and-coming 17-year-old snowboarder from Michigan who is targeting the 2026 Winter Olympics.
On the podcast, Horton and Rice discussed their personal experiences, the tight-knit friendships they've formed within the Black ski and snowboard community, and what steps can be taken to get more young kids of color into the pipeline for winter sports and eventually onto the podium. Listen to the full episode below.
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Season 3 of The Podium is hosted by Lauren Shehadi. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will be released weekly on Tuesdays ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, followed by daily episodes throughout the duration of the Games