One of the nation’s top skiers is just 12. She’s among a wave of Black athletes aiming to dominate the slopes.

Colorado’s Ava Keenan, and 22 other young skiers and snowboarders on the National Brotherhood of Skiers team, is working with the organization to diversify the highest levels of those sports

Tatiana Flowers
The Colorado Sun
Mogul skier Ava “Happy Knees” Keenan, 12, executes the Kosak trick during a competition, Feb. 5, 2023, at Vail ski area.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

Ava Keenan started skiing when she was 2. By age 7, she was skiing moguls, runs considered by many to be among the most technical, demanding and exhausting terrain found on a mountain.

Now 12, Ava’s goal is to become the first Black skier to win not only one, but three successive gold medals at Olympics competitions when she becomes eligible.

“I would be honored to be the first Black person to make it to the Olympic moguls,” she said at Vail ski area, not far from her home, earlier this month. “Hopefully other Black children or other people of color would look at it, and think, ‘I want to try that now.’ And, hopefully, that would bring more exposure to the sport.”

Ava is already the top skier in her age group in the U.S. and is the 33rd best freestyle skier across competitors of all age groups in the country, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the national governing body for the Olympic teams. 

She will be eligible to compete in the next 2026 Winter Games in Cortina, Italy, but her father, Jim Keenan, said she is more likely to compete in a moguls Olympic competition in 2030, when she is 19.

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