Aspen ski instructors of color may prove key to diversifying sport
The Colorado Sun
About a decade ago, snowsports leaders began meeting in small circles to discuss the importance of diversifying participants, and a few years later, they began launching public campaigns to bring more women, more people of color and more people with disabilities to the mountain.
The goal is to promote inclusion, and increase vitality in an industry where demographic data doesn’t come close to mirroring the makeup of the state or U.S. population.
While industry leaders have worked slowly to attract newer and more underrepresented skiers and snowboarders in recent years, little attention has focused on diversifying the frontline staff teaching snowports, even though they could be a key component in speeding up diversity efforts and signaling who gets to participate, said Darnell Rose, a Black ski instructor in Aspen for more than 30 years.
Rose said he’s “breaking down walls and stereotypes,” by continuing to work as an instructor, even when he’s face-to-face with people who make problematic comments or when he has to answer awkward questions from others on the slopes. When executives at Aspen Skiing Company lead diversity efforts, Rose shares his viewpoints and gives constructive criticism, even if the conversations are uncomfortable, he said.
These efforts haven’t always gone smoothly, and at times, Rose feels like a thorn in the side of the resort company’s leaders.
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