There’s hardly a better feeling than your skis or snowboard swiftly cutting
through the snow as you make your way down a scenic mountaintop. Winter
sports are something that people cherish worldwide, but these types of sports
lack cultural diversity. We believe that highlighting how winter sports lacks
cultural diversity will create a more profound understanding that encourages
conversations about diversity and inclusion within this sector of sports.
While most of us view winter sports as an exciting way to stay active in the
colder months, indigenous people in Central Asia developed the snowshoe
nearly 6,000 years ago to survive freezing temperatures. The invention spread
across the Bering Strait as the indigenous people migrated to the Americas.
Sledding was invented by the Anishinabe, Cree, and Inuit peoples.
Even though minorities created the essence of winter sports, European
colonizers took these inventions and developed them into various ‘winter
sports’ that are enjoyed through recreational use today. Snowshoeing became
a popular sport in Canada first, before becoming a mainstream sport in the U.S.
in the 1970s.
So, why is there an apparent lack of cultural diversity within winter sports? Well,
geographical location and monetary means play significant roles. Winter
sports require cold weather and snow to participate in the various activities, so
the Northern Hemisphere naturally will see more people engaging in winter
sports because they’re readily available.
It’s important to note that there are ski areas in some parts of Africa. Iran has
twenty ski areas, India has eleven, Pakistan has nine, Lebanon has six,
Kazakhstan has four, and Kyrgyzstan has three. So while access to a
geographical location where one could participate in winter sports is more
minimal in other parts of the world (that aren’t Europe or North America),
several countries have accessible winter sports.
The BBC spoke to Nick Young, a black man passionate about winter sports. His
input is incredibly valuable as he contributed to the conversation with a first-
person perspective on cultural diversity within winter sports.
He said, “[The lack of cultural diversity] is compounded by outdoor brands
who up until recently have felt compelled to frame any reference to people of
color through a lens backdropped by high-rise housing blocks or walls
emblazoned with graffiti rather than out in the wilderness. Skiing and
snowboarding isn’t cheap, and many of us don’t live close to the mountains,
but the black and brown community has a growing middle class looking for
new experiences on which to spend their money. Brands, organizations, and
resorts need to find new ways to reach out and speak to new audiences in
language and imagery that engages people outside of the traditional
The harsh reality is that someone can’t strap on a pair of skis and eloquently
make their way down the slopes. Winter sports require training, classes, and
equipment. And if a person doesn’t live within close proximity to the
mountains, they must pay for a full-fledged trip to enjoy most winter sports.
Winter sports are arguably the most expensive type of sports, so the lack of
cultural diversity is apparent because there is a systematic race issue within
society that is paired with disproportionate wealth.
My Wicked Dude strives to be a brand that promotes cultural diversity in
winter sports. We understand the importance of discussing this issue, so there
can be a more significant movement demanding inclusivity within all sports.
We hope that cultural diversity will begin to grow as other brands contribute to
the conversation. We envision a future where winter sports can be more
accessible to all.