Get ready to hit the slopes like a pro.
This week, thousands of Black men and women descended upon Vail, Colorado for the National Brotherhood of Skiers' 50th Anniversary Summit. The towering Rocky Mountain slopes were filled with melanin as folks locked into their skis and snowboards for hours of shredding fresh tracks. Although many of the attendees are well-versed in winter sports, there were still plenty of people who were beginners as well.
With stereotypes like "Black people don't ski," or "Black people don't do cold weather sports," organizations like the National Brotherhood of Skiers are showing us otherwise. Yes, the slopes can be a bit intimidating, but if you have the proper guidance ahead of time, your adventures on the mountain will be smooth sailing.
If you're ready to face your fears, or simply try something new, we've curated this beginner's guide with everything you need to know about skiing and snowboarding.
Before your trip
Planning ahead is essential for optimal success on the slopes. Skiing can be an expensive sport, so taking time to budget and map out everything can possibly allow you to save money as well. You'll want to start with your location. There are ski resorts all over the country—and world—so it's all up to you. Keep in mind that places like Vail and Aspen can skew on the higher end of things, but the views are worth it.
Once you have a location locked in, it's time to decide on lift tickets and lessons. As a beginner, a lesson is key. There are several options including half day, full day, and even lessons for children starting as young as 3-years-old. With the lesson, you'll also need to lock in your lift ticket, which allows you to get up and down the mountain to your class or to just ski.
"We have a product called Epic Day Pass, which is great if you don't want to commit to a full season pass. You can choose from a 1,3, up to a 7-day pass," John Plack, senior manager for Vail Ski Resort shares. "At Vail for example, you can ski for under $70 a day. That price is lower if you want to ski at a more regional mountain, but the pass will get you in to many of the Colorado ski resorts."
What to wear
Even as a beginner, you shouldn't feel intimidated to ski just because you don't have the gear. Yes, the gear can be pricey, but there are ways around that. Rental companies like Kit Lender will provide everything from ski pants and jackets, to things to wear at night while you Aprés.
As for the basic gear, you'll want a base layer—typically a wool top and bottom that fits snug to your body to keep in the heat. Your mid-layer can be a hoodie, half-zip fleece or even a sweatshirt. Your outer later will be a waterproof jacket (also called a shell) and waterproof snow pants, or even a cute onesie. Thick wool socks, waterproof mittens (or gloves), ski goggles, and a beanie will also complete your look—while also keeping you warm. It's also great to pick up a handwarmers to keep inside your mittens or gloves, too.
Companies like Black Diamond, North Face and Burton all have dope gear for men and women. If you're going more for fashion, check out Farm Rio, Amazon or even Free People.
"There should be no stigma when it comes to what to wear on the slopes," Plack shares. "You just want to have a waterproof top layer, but otherwise come as you are."
As for your ski and snowboard rentals, the resort that you choose will have partner rental shops in the area. They will rent out everything from skis, snowboards, the proper boots for your skis or snowboard, ski poles, and helmets. Pro Tip: Ask the rental company if they offer heated boots. They will come in handy while on the slopes.
Price: $110Shop at Smartwool
Price: $280Shop at Burton
Price: $120Shop at North Face
Price: $320Shop at Burton
Price: $400Shop at Black Diamond
Price: $135Shop at Savior
Price: $165Shop at Amazon
While on the slopes
First and foremost, have fun. Don't get so wrapped up in not looking like an expert when on the mountain. Skiing and snowboarding become easier the more you do it, so extend yourself some grace as you get comfortable.
"Come with an open, learning mindset and don't feel like everyone is looking at you," Beth Howard, VP and COO of Vail Ski Resort, says. "Just look around at the beauty and understand that you are learning something new. Your ski instructor is there to help you and guide you, so just enjoy it and have fun."