National Brotherhood of Skiers

The National Brotherhood of Skiers, or NBS, is a non-profit organization that is made up of over 45 active Black ski clubs. There are over 77 clubs listed on the NBS website, but narly half of them seem to be inactive. Their mission is: To identify, develop and support athletes of color who will WIN Olympic and international winter sports competitions representing the United States and to increase participation in winter sports. The NBS has been encouraging African Americans to ski an snowboard since 1973.

The biggest trip of the year is also the NBS' biggest fundraiser: The Summit. This trip attracts thousands to the mountain every year. There is nothing more impressive than seeing the mountain filled with Black skiers and snowboarders getting off the chair lifts, filling the apres bars, emptying the shops, and partying the nights away. Once you meet some of these adventure seekers, you learn that these are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, engineers, dentists, and every other profession you can think of. The local residents and other visitors are often speechless, and often hilarious when they try to figure out the best way ask innocent questions.

If you are looking to join the NBS on a ski trip, your best option is to find a ski club near you, or contact any of the clubs that will be attending the trip. You do not need to be a resident of the city you register your trip through. If you are already a member one of the NBS clubs, be sure to help get a our first Black Olympic ski medalist by registering for this year's summit trip or other NBS fundraisers.

History of the National Brotherhood of Skiers
As told by the founders Art Clay and Ben Finley

At a time when African Americans on the ski slopes were a rarity and black ski clubs were an exception, Ben Finley and Art Clay were not deterred from their vision to create a national Black Ski Summit. The two founders met in 1972 after being introduced by a mutual friend while Finley was President of the Four Seasons West Ski Club of Los Angeles and Clay was Trip Director of the Sno-Gophers Ski Club of Chicago. They moved forward with a proposal to bring together 13 black ski clubs for an event, which was called "A Happening", but was later changed to "Black Summit," at the suggestion of a member of the Jim Dandy Ski Club of Detroit. The Black Summit would represent black skiers coming together at the summit of Ajax Mountain. The purpose was "to identify and discuss problems and subjects which were unique to the black skiing population, ski and socialize", according to Finley.

The historic gathering took place in Aspen, Colorado in 1973 and was attended by over 350 skiers. There was an overall sense of camaraderie that pervaded the event and this same feeling is still significantly associated with all Black Summits. The images of this occasion will forever stay in the minds of those who witnessed this event. As the East Coast met the West Coast, there were discussions of Teo Hyde of Chicago who was recognized as an aspiring contender for a position of the U.S. Ski Team. The formation of the national organization was set for Thanksgiving weekend in 1973 in Salt Lake City, Utah. At a meeting of the club leaders, it was proposed that the primary purpose of the organization would be to place a black skier on the U.S. Ski Team. Those in attendance unanimously embraced this mission. Thus, began the commencement of the first national organization of predominantly Black ski clubs.

The National Brotherhood of Skiers was chartered in 1974 and incorporated as a non-profit organization in Illinois in `975. It received its 501©3 designation in `978. The founding clubs were:

  • All Seasons Ski club (Oakland, CA)
  • Black Ski, Inc (Washington, D.C.)
  • Cascaders Ski Club (Chicago, IL)
  • 4 Seasons Northwest (Seattle, WA)
  • 4 Seasons West Ski Club, Inc (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Inner City Ski Bums (Cleveland, OH)
  • Jim Dandy Ski Club (Detroit, MI)
  • Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club (New York, NY)
  • Sno-Gophers Ski Club (Chicago, IL)
  • Sno-Rovers Ski Club (Boston, MA)
  • Ujama Ski Club (Compton, CA)

Black Ski Summit 1975 was hosted by the Sno-Gophers Ski Club and was held in Sun Valley, Idaho. Over 750 skiers attended. The clubs in attendance elected Ray Mott of Black Ski, Inc. as the NBS’ first President. H

istory continued to be made with the NBS as Olympian, Bonnie St. John-Dean was the winner of two Bronze and combined Silver medals at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Jahi Rohrer of Denver and Andre & Suki Horton of Anchorage competed in the U.S. national Championships. The NBS progress continues.

More recently, NBS member and US Disaled Team member, Ralph Green compted in the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Torino, Italy. Errol Kerr has been a member of Team NBS since 2000. Following a successful training and competition season in Ne Zealand, [Errol has decided to represent his father’s country of Jamaica in the 2010 Olympics].

Today, the organization has grown to 77 clubs representing 43 cities and a membership of 8,000. The NBS is recognized by the ski industry as one of the largest ski organizations and its Summit as the largest gathering of skiers and riders, more than any other ski convention in the United States.