More and more organizations are devoted to helping Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) get on the slopes and enjoy outdoor sports. Two new ones in Vermont include Bobby Johnson’s Killington-based Follow the Snow Club (on Facebook) and Powered Magazine (on Instagram), which amplifies and helps promote BIPOC participation in outdoor activities. They join the following more-established (in the case of the National Brotherhood, long-established) groups that regularly provide access to snowsports to both seasoned athletes and aspiring participants.
National Brotherhood of Skiers: Since 1973, the National Brotherhood of Skiers has been gathering Black skiers and riders for events such as its National Summit (to be held in Big Sky, Mont. Feb. 24-March 2) and serves as an umbrella organization for more than 57 local chapters around the U.S. The NBS mission is to identify, develop and support athletes of color who will win international and Olympic competitions and to increase participation in snowsports. In addition, for the past few years, the NBS has also partnered with the non-profit Women of Winter (shown above) and Professional Ski Instructors of America to provide scholarships to its PSIA Level I and Level II instructor training and certification camps (also held in Big Sky, Mont.). To find a local NBS chapter, visit nbs.org.
Outdoor Afro: A national not-for-profit with 11 member networks in the Northeast, including one in Burlington, Vt. Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. Its mission is to “to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature.” Outdoor Afro provides leadership training and helps participants get involved in outdoor activities that range from fishing, hiking and biking, to kayaking, skiing, and more. outdoorafro.org
Unlikely Riders: Founded in Vermont in 2020 by skiers and snowboarders, Unlikely Riders helps break down some of the barriers of entry for the BIPOC community by providing gear, lessons and lift tickets as well as fostering community. Through partnerships and donations, Unlikely Rider’s Winter Gear Closet has already provided over 1,900 pieces of winter gear to BIPOC Vermonters at no cost—everything from skis, snowboards, jackets, boots, helmets, gloves, to splitboards and more. The group’s mission is to “mobilize our community to find healing with the mountains while claiming space in the snow sports industry and culture.” unlikelyriders.com