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Local program promotes diversity in Utah’s winter sports

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has beautiful mountains, the greatest snow on earth and world-renowned resorts but advocates say the state is lacking in one area: diversity.

That’s an area of improvement that advocates say they’re addressing in part through the program “Discover Winter.”

“We know that only 10% of our skiers and snowboarders are non-white participants,” explained Raylene Davis, Vice President of Marketing at Ski Utah. “So we really wanted to welcome these individuals to our mountains.”

While most ski programs are for kids, this one uniquely focuses on exposing adults to Utah’s winter sports industry.

Participants in the program are taken to one of Utah’s resorts for a day of winter fun but first, they have to be dressed in the appropriate gear.

“We outfit them with the jacket, the pants, the helmet, the goggles, the neck gators, the gloves, everything they need to be able to stay warm,” Davis explained.

All of the gear, which can be a financial burden on some, is free to keep. None of it needs to be returned.

“They get to keep it because we want them to continue to ski and snowboard,” Davis said. “So they need that equipment to be able to ski and snowboard.”

Last year was the first year the program was implemented and Davis said it was hugely successful.

“We had about 140 participants last year, they took four lessons at six resorts,” she said. “They loved it so much, that at the end of their lessons, we gave them a yeti Pass, which is valid for one lift ticket at each of Utah’s 15 ski resorts.”

Ski Utah reports they have two new resorts participating this year, which means there is one resort in each canyon around the Wasatch Front available to these new skiers and snowboarders.

This year, there are 175 participants and Davis hopes the program will have an even further reach.

“What we’re hoping for is that these people who participate will then introduce their friends and family to the sport, and then they will introduce their friends and friends and family,” she said. “So maybe one day this program won’t need to exist, because we will have done our job to be more welcoming and inviting to the ethnically diverse community.”

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