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Hey Black Girl, Skip The Beach And Go Skiing, Be Different!

By Stephanie Ogbogu

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A few weeks ago, I was invited to Sundance Mountain Resort, located just 13 miles northeast of Provo, UT, for a weekend of skiing.

You read that right, this black girl was going skiing.

For full transparency, I had never been skiing before. I had also never been to Utah. In fact, growing up in Texas, I hadn’t ever experienced actual snow, let alone had thoughts of participating in winter sports, and Utah wasn’t somewhere I had ever dreamt of going. However, I told myself that 2020 would be the year that I pushed myself outside of the norm, and I’m glad I did.

I arrived in Utah ready to take on the cold winter climate and hopefully not break my neck on the slopes. As far as ski resorts are concerned, Sundance Mountain Resort is exactly what I imagined it would be. Founded in 1969 by actor Robert Redford, the resort is much like a small community. The cabins are spacious, yet cozy, it seems like everyone knows everyone and the restaurants offer a variety of food options for every taste. Let’s just say, if I could live there, I probably would. But considering the fact that I can only handle being cold for about 48 hours, living in the mountains may not be an option.

On Day 2 of my trip, the day had finally arrived. It was time for us to hit the slopes.

Of the group, I was the only African American girl, and of course, the only person who had never picked up a pair of skis before. Most would be nervous about being the lone novice and potentially breaking your neck, or even worse, slamming into a tree or falling off a cliff. Oddly, I felt a sense of excitement. I’m no daredevil by any means but there was just something exhilarating about taking on a challenge that people who look like me aren’t known to take on.

Fortunately, I was partnered with a great ski instructor named Tracie. She was patient and didn’t make me feel like a child, despite the fact that there were literally 10-year-olds that were out-skiing me at this point. She taught me the fundamentals of skiing: pizza to stop, french fries to go faster. Never lean backward or you’ll lose control. Tracie was great. And guess what, after two hours on the slopes, high altitudes (breathing was a task in itself), tons of snow, and a little frustration here and there (I can’t lie), I managed to have a great time — and I didn’t fall, not ONCE!

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She survived!! ⛷❄️

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That’s right, I didn’t crash and burn a single time and I felt empowered by that. Not that I wouldn’t have felt empowered had I fallen, but it felt great to not dive face first.

What felt even better was knowing that I checked something off of my bucket list. I was one step closer to becoming a Black Adventurer and honestly, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, my goal is to keep skiing until I’m good at it. I don’t have to be a ski professional by any means, but if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s to suck, and right now, I suck! But that’s okay because I’m determined to not suck for long.

As far as my stay at Sundance Mountain Resort, it was a perfect introduction to ski resorts for me. It wasn’t overly packed, it was family-friendly, the snow was soft, and although there was lots of it, it wasn’t freezing cold. Utah overall was accommodating and I can’t wait to break out my ski gear and keep going.

If there’s one piece of advice I have for African American travelers, it’s to break out of the norm and try new things. Too often we get into habits of traveling to places that we are used to because they are in our comfort zone. While laying out on the beach is nice, and the Eiffel Tower makes for a great Instagram photo, there’s just something satisfying about doing the unexpected.

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Stephanie Ogbogu

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