Colorado’s ski industry is seeing growing interest in uphilling from an unlikely demographic |

Colorado’s ski industry is seeing growing interest in uphilling from an unlikely demographic

More than 220 people dove into uphill skiing at the National Brotherhood of Skiers’ 50th annual summit in Vail, which promotes diversity in winter sports

Tatiana Flowers
The Colorado Sun
Mariko Anderson, right, of Seattle, Wash., takes the skins off the skis as Gerald Coleman, left, of Burlington, Vermont, and other uphill participants transition to downhill skiing at Vail ski area, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Vail.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

VAIL — Ski instructor Gerald Coleman skied up a hill, not down, for the second time ever during the National Brotherhood of Skiers summit, and called the experience invigorating.

“It’s part mental and part physical, and I would say even spiritual, expanding and going beyond the confines of the resort, and that is what I’m looking for,” said Coleman, who teaches skiing at Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont.

He found the uphill clinic he participated in on Tuesday morning helpful as it trained him to hike about half a mile up part of the Golden Peak Race Course on skis, earning his turns back down the hill at Vail. It was useful, he said, to learn about avalanche mitigation and the gear needed to venture beyond ski area boundaries and ski freely on public land.

For people of color, the idea of skiing at resorts can seem foreign, with white skiers accounting for a vast majority of the sport’s participants. But venturing into the backcountry on untracked terrain can seem even more unfamiliar. 

The National Brotherhood of Skiers summit works to expose more people of color to skiing and snowboarding each year. Introducing more people of color to ski touring and backcountry travel is important because it creates access to a niche sport that many people don’t even know is available to them, instructors at the summit said. 

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