The Visionaries Diversifying Ski Culture

The ski industry is having a glow-up: an abundance of change-makers on a mission to diversify snow sports. From brands and nonprofits to athletes and artists, these visionaries are paving the way toward improved  inclusivity, representation, and accessibility in skiing and outdoor culture. Seirus, a brand with 40 years of history in the cold-weather apparel space, is one of the many leaders in this pursuit. Since its establishment, Seirus has been passionately committed to fostering representation within its operations and beyond. To learn more about those who are making a difference on and off the slopes, we talked to three snow sports enthusiasts addressing the imbalance in different ways.

Improving Access and Inclusivity

Outside: Why is the National Brotherhood of Skiers important?

Henri Rivers, president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers: In 1973, 13 Black ski clubs joined together in Aspen, Colorado,  to form the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS). More than 350  skiers from all over the country attended the event in support. The goal was to ski and have a great time together.

National Brotherhood of Skiers
Improving access and inclusivity on and off the slopes. (Photo: Henri Rivers)

Today, the organization promotes winter sports among Black Americans and people of color. Its mission is to identify, develop, and support athletes of color who will win international and Olympic winter sports competitions while representing the United States and to increase participation in winter sports. But the relevance and importance of the NBS goes much deeper.

Who can get involved in NBS?

Anyone can become a member of NBS and join its fellowship, camaraderie, and mission. Our goal is to make the organization accessible to all who want to connect with a diverse group of people and get outdoors. We want to see people of all colors and backgrounds enjoying what nature has to offer. Prospective members can easily locate a nearby club. There are nearly 60 clubs across the United States and the United Kingdom to choose from.

The NBS has partnered with many snow sports organizations to reach a wider network of snow sport athletes who will represent  the United States. Additionally, the organization has successfully connected thousands of underrepresented Americans to the outdoors—all while inspiring a healthy outdoor lifestyle.

How do you hope to see ski culture evolve in the next ten years?

The NBS foresees an African American on the U.S. Winter Olympic team at the opening ceremonies in 2026. That’s the organization’s two-year goal. 

In the long term, we want to see many more people of color enjoying the outdoors, participating in winter sports, and becoming integral parts of the snow sports industry. For example, we want more people of color in management positions within mountain resorts, with upper management and CEOs of color directing operations. Additionally, we’re working to inspire  more  people of color to become ski instructors and leading clients of color. These teachers will help retain new skiers and exponentially increase representation from communities that are, at best, minimally represented. We also want more athletes of color attending specialized ski academies and filling the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team pipelines. 

We see inclusion and equity from the parking attendants to the boardroom. We see human equality and excellence in the snow sports Industry.

Creating a Space for Representation

What inspires your artwork?

Lamont Joseph White, artist: Countless influences and experiences inspire my work—culture, social issues, humans, and seeing art itself are amongst them. I suppose I’m a seeker of sorts. Wherever I go, I’m naturally driven to explore and indulge my senses as much as time allows. Artistically, a fun practice for me is to intersect cultures, issues, and activities that I relate to on some level. For my Skiing in Color collection, I had been contemplating the underrepresentation of Black and brown people on the slopes. My own personal experience of living and recreating in a major ski town prompted me to want this conversation.

Lamont Joseph White
Creating a space for representation in artwork. (Photo: Lamont Joseph White)

Why is representation important in ski culture?

Broadly speaking, representation is important in the culture of any activity or experience. And snow sports, in my mind, are not exempt from this truth. The power of representation is the power of belief. Belief occurs when we see and experience something. Then our minds know it to be true or possible. And involvement follows. When we are involved, we share, learn, grow, and excel. As in many aspects of life, this process opens up even more opportunities on our journeys. Likewise, I believe in the importance of cultural exchanges in our shared spaces. I’ve discovered along the way that unless we remain persistent in pursuing representation, it won’t occur.

Where can people find your work?

Some of my paintings hang at resorts such as Park City Mountain, Deer Valley, Town of Vail, Copper Mountain, and Solitude Mountain. My clients include Vail Resorts, Alterra Mountain Company, Seirus, National Brotherhood of Snowsports, Smith Optics, Teton Gravity Research, Krimson Klover, Icelantic Skis, and, gratefully, many others. Also, giclée and canvas prints are available on my website.

Setting a New Standard

How is Seirus working to establish diversity in ski culture?

Mike Carey, president and CEO at Seirus: Seirus fosters a work environment where unique minds come together to create exceptional outdoor gear. Our team continues to represent diversity throughout leadership and every department, with 38 percent of management positions held by women and 47 percent of team members from underrepresented ethnicities.

The outdoors offer transformative experiences that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. Seirus actively supports this mission through various means, including our active involvement in outdoor-focused community impact programs and our internal development initiatives, such as our artist collaborations.Currently, we’re partnering with two remarkable artists. Alberto Lemus, who has an exciting collaboration with Nordica and In Solidarity Project, and Lamont Joseph White.

Sean Carey skiing
Setting a new standard for representation and access in skiing. (Photo: Seirus)

As an industry, we’ve made strides toward inclusivity, but we’re not done yet. Seirus is contributing to continued improvement in the same way it approaches innovation: identify a problem and find a solution. Seirus’s history and ethos exemplify this commitment to positive change, and we remain dedicated to pushing the boundaries of inclusivity and access in the outdoors.

What gear is Seirus best known for, and how does the lineup help skiers break boundaries?

Seirus is renowned for its commitment to innovation—in our products and beyond. Yes, we make winter feel less cold and more exhilarating. But for us, innovation is also about empowering individuals to break boundaries and enjoy the outdoors. 

Cat Tracks are the origin of Seirus, embodying its deep-seated passion for devising solutions that elevate comfort, safety, and durability. This innovative product offers a portable and convenient solution—a ski boot protector that not only safeguards against excessive wear and tear but also provides traction on pavement and gravel.

In 1996, the Original All Weather Glove was the industry’s first glove featuring a bonded four-way stretch fabric, windproof and waterproof breathable membrane, and moisture-wicking inner lining, all in a fitted profile. These gloves are lightweight, warm, and versatile, making them ideal for on or off the mountain.

When it comes to high-tech development, Seirus HeatTouch Gloves and Mitts set a high standard. The rechargeable heated gloves feature a flexible heat panel that wraps around the back of your hands, fingertips, and thumb. With the push of a button, your hands will be warm all day long, so you can focus on your swivel hips.

What are some other standout organizations working to diversify ski culture?

There’s a large community dedicating their time and resources to a stronger collective culture shift, recognizing that we can accomplish more together than any one of us alone. Together, we believe that we can achieve far more as a united group than any of us can accomplish alone. We’re proud to highlight some of the impactful partners we collaborate with, who include 686, Scarpa, Fera Style, Nomad Snack Mix, White Paw Run Mitts, Tecnica, The North FaceKokatat, HydraPak, REI, Yeti, Thule, California Outdoor Recreation Partnership, Snowsports Industry of America, Outdoor Foundation, and The Big Gear Show. Our attempts are not without faults, but we continue to learn ways to progress together.

Entrepreneurs have also introduced purpose-driven retailers and brands, like Slim Pickins Outfitters, Intrinsic Provisions, Wheelzup Adventures, Outlandish NYC, Tough Cutie, Bewilder, Alpine Parrot, Itacate, Fridie Outdoors, Outdoor Journal Tour, Allmansright, Conscious Gear, Outdoor Element, and the list continues to grow. These leaders contribute to ski culture by creating gear, spaces, and experiences that make access and resources attainable.

From industry veterans like  Selema Masekela and Philip Henderson to the recent accomplishments of the Full Circle Everest team, there are so many incredible individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting outdoor experiences and inspiring a love for nature. Although there are many other remarkable individuals and organizations beyond those we have highlighted here, Seirus is deeply grateful for the awareness all have brought to breaking down the barriers imposed by systemic constraints and society. It is our sincere hope that anyone inspired by this list will find ways to join or support these groups, thereby contributing to the lasting transformation of our nation’s relationship with nature and its profound impact on our collective well-being.

For four decades, Seirus has redefined warmth and comfort, crafting gear through hands-on research and development. Our commitment to inclusivity and enjoyment in outdoor recreation extends to our entire community—from co-creators to customers. Whether worn on mountain peaks or city streets, every piece of Seirus gear embodies innovation and collaboration.

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