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Bringing ethnic diversity to the slopes

Targeting the non-white population to cultivate a new market of skiers and snowboarders



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Moreno has been pressuring ski areas to get on board and to partner with youth groups, churches or any other organization with high minority participation, to reach out and get them out on the hill. The first step, Moreno says, is outreach. "Currently we have over half of Colorado’s ski resorts in the 10,000 Project. The goal is to get 10,000 minority children from Denver out on Colorado’s ski hills over the next two seasons."

With support from organizations like National Ski Areas Association and Ski Area Management Magazine Alpino has extended its reach to resorts in New Mexico and California. Moreno also plans to extend Alpino’s reach to the eastern ski resorts.

As for plans for Whistler, Moreno was enthusiastic: "I would be on a plane tomorrow if there was an opportunity to work with Whistler-Blackcomb."

Rob McSkimming, vice president of business development for Whistler-Blackcomb, agrees that tapping into multicultural markets makes sound fiscal sense. "We understand there is enormous opportunity among various minority groups."

While Whistler-Blackcomb has no specific programs targeted to minorities, McSkimming, points to the success of Lower Mainland schools on snow programs. "We’ve been successful at exposing these second generation Canadian kids to the sport through their schools. But for new arrivals it’s a tougher nut to crack."

However, McSkimming says there is compelling evidence to support outreach. "It’s on our radar and it’s something we know we need to do more of. They just need to be welcomed, and that’s something we are eager to do."

Simon Tam’s club doesn’t have a fancy website, or even a marketing budget for that matter, and Roberto Moreno knows it’s not going to be easy getting 10,000 kids on the slopes by next April. They are reminiscent of the original pioneers and founders of ski clubs that popped up all over North America at the beginning of the last century. Those clubs created the ski culture we enjoy today – a bunch of people that love skiing and riding and want to share that with others like them. Let’s hope for the sake of our sport resorts everywhere will pick up on their enthusiasm and help them get a few friends out to try the mountains.

The bottom line is simply that, the bottom line. If we don’t maintain our participation rates and make skiing and snowboarding relevant to minorities our sport will become a pastime similar to polo or fox hunting. Tally Ho!

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