Move over, Ravinos: Scores of ski clubs in Vail for National Brotherhood of Skiers’ 50th anniversary summit
The high-flying Ravinos aren’t the only ski club in Vail this week. Look around the slopes and you’re likely to see dozens of different insignias embroidered on the backs of jackets, bearing the names of ski clubs from across the country.
It’s all part of the National Brotherhood of Skiers’ 50th-anniversary summit, which is in Vail to celebrate half a century of solidarity on the slopes. While the National Brotherhood of Skiers itself is a large group of thousands of Black skiers and snowboarders, it is comprised of more than 50 smaller clubs from around the country, each with its own unique story.
Some of those clubs, like the Jim Dandy Ski Club of Detroit Michigan, pre-date the National Brotherhood of Skiers itself. The Jim Dandy Ski Club started in 1958, using the 1956 LaVern Baker song to create a memorable moniker. Later, the Jim Dandy Ski Club would become one of the brotherhood’s 13 founding clubs, and a Jim Dandy club member, in 1974, had the idea to title the brotherhood’s annual gathering the “Black Summit.”
Today the Jim Dandy Ski Club has been recognized as the oldest Black ski club in the nation, but contains white members, as well, as part of the club’s goal to be inclusive. In Vail for the Black Summit, Jim Dandy Ski Club member Charles Bantom said the group is having a great time in Vail, where club members are finding better snow conditions than they have this season back in Michigan.
“We do head up to Upper Michigan for some good snow, but it’s nothing like this,” he said.
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Many of the other ski clubs in Vail this week, however, do not have the luxury of snow where they’re from. Anthony Sullivan of the Sunshine Slopers Ski Club said his group is visiting from Miami.
“I hadn’t seen snow all year until I got here,” he said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by members of the Ski Jammers of Houston, Texas. Ski Jammer Bruce Stewart said he has been attending the Black Summit for years, with the memorabilia to prove it. Stewart’s Ski Jammer jacket bears a patch from the 35th-annual event, which took place in Breckenridge.
Gary Garrett, president of the All Seasons Ski Club in the Oakland-San Fransisco area, was riding a SnowShark “Spyder” monoski on Tuesday, a commemorative edition monoski made in honor of All Seasons member Thomas “Spyder” Johnson, who died in a ski accident in 2009.
But it’s not just men in the brotherhood — many of the clubs have strong female representation, as well. Show-Me Skiers president Deanna Carroll said she is excited to be in Vail skiing with her friend Jan Walker, also a member of the Show-Me Skiers. Walker said they felt lucky to have caught a sunny day on the slopes on Tuesday.
“We’re having a fabulous day here in Vail,” Walker said on Tuesday.
The Show-Me Skiers are like most clubs in their regional draw, using the state of Missouri’s “Show-Me” slogan in creating the name for their St. Louis-based club. But in some of the newer clubs, it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. The Sugar & Spice Snow and Social Club is an all-female club that doesn’t claim a specific area of origin.
“We’re virtual,” said Melanie Washington of Sugar & Spice. “We started about 10 years ago.”
Washington, who was visiting from Chantilly, Virginia, said she was honored to have one of the club’s top shredders, Erin Jackson, in Vail this week. Jackson said she loves getting together with all their club members at the National Brotherhood of Skiers summit each year.
“We even have members from the U.K. that are here with us this week,” she said.
The National Brotherhood of Skiers’ 50th-anniversary summit continues through Saturday.