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There Is Not a Single Black U.S. Ski Team Coach. Here’s a Plan to Change That

The organization's first DEI audit shows that there are very few people involved with U.S. Ski and Snowboard that do not identify as white.

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Last week, U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee released its three-year initiative for making the program more inclusive. This DEI Action Plan comes about one year after the team pledged to expand and accelerate DEI efforts after the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

“Elite performance cannot reach its highest levels when pursued in an elitist or inequitable way,” writes U.S. Ski and Snowboard President Tiger Shaw in the opening letter of the new DEI Action Plan. “In setting this Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan, our purpose is to implement best practices within our organization and our teams, and encourage other industry stakeholders to do the same. Collectively we can create a more welcoming culture, establish fair systems at all levels, and open the door wider to make skiing and snowboarding more accessible to athletes, professional staff, and communities with a more diverse array of backgrounds and identities.”

Brita Sigourney with SOS Outreach
Brita Sigourney with SOS Outreach at Park City Mountain, Utah. Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard

From 2017 to 2020, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team focused on increasing women’s representation at all staffing levels through a Gender Equity Task Force. The new DEI Action Plan summarizes the successes of that program and looks to use some similar practices in increasing the diversity of staff, coaches, members, and more during the next three years.

The first step taken towards a more diverse U.S. Ski and Snowboard team was performing a DEI Audit in November 2020. The audit was overseen by The Inclusion Playbook, an organization that is also working with a number of American sport governing bodies, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Triathalon, USA Cycling, and more. The results found that there is not a single individual who identifies as a person of color (POC) on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Coaching Staff or the Board of Directors. One percent of the staff, two percent of the Board of Trustees, and 0.01 percent of U.S. Ski and Snowboard members identify as POC.

Related: How the Effects of Historically Racist Laws Are Still Keeping BIPOC From the Outdoors

“It is no secret that U.S. Ski & Snowboard, our sports, our industry, and our mountain towns are historically white,” says Shaw. “As an industry, much work remains in creating wider access to the mountains. As an organization, we also need to ensure a level playing field for those who strive to reach the top of their sport. We simply cannot be the Best in the World when only a small portion of our country is represented in our programs and our sports.”

U.S. Ski Team, SOS Outreach
A participant of SOS Outreach enjoys a sunny day on Park City Mountain. Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard

After performing the DEI Audit, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard organization worked with DEI strategic advisor Annie Kao of Ascent Inclusion Consulting to gather more feedback and guidance for the newly formed DEI Strategic Planning Task Force and DEI Committee. That collaboration led to the creation of the DEI Action Plan.

The organization’s next plans include training and education for all levels of staff and athletes, increasing DEI content and representation on the website and social channels, collaborating with other organizations to increase accessibility and diversity, continuing to improve gender equity in coaching, increasing inclusion at every level, and establishing an annual award for diversity and inclusion efforts.

Read the full US Ski and Snowboard DEI Action Plan here

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