It's No Secret that U.S. Ski & Snowboard Sports are Historically White
If you are a person of color and have been on the slopes you already know this far too well. You've heard the jokes of it being a white sport and found yourself sometimes looking around for someone that looks like you.
This is due to a number of factors. At face value snow sports are too expensive for many. It is a true privilege to have the time and money to be able to drive out to the mountains with the right equipment for a weekend at a ski resort.
It's not just a socio-economic issue, but also a distance issue. A lot of times what you don't see, you don't do. If you aren't seeing ski resorts on your way to school, you might not even think of it as something you might want to try.
Although things are moving in the right direction, there still aren't enough resources provided to make Black people fully welcome into snow culture
Programs have been created to introduce POC, especially youth, into snow sports, but there is a lack of initiatives to help them maintain their passion for the slopes.
01 | KEY FEATURES
Listen and learn.
Looking back at this work this was truly a passion project, combining two of my loves - design and snowboarding.
During my time working on Steeze, I experienced the true power of taking the time to research, listen, and learn who a design or experience is for.
I hope to be able to implement aspects of Steeze into my work in the future and create a world welcome for all.
Twelve week - Independent Study
Create a more inclusive and accessible platform for POC
Through my research, I identified three main opportunity areas to find solutions in to create a holistic experience
Users have access to countless classes provided by Steeze. The main being a K-12 Initiative that works to get POC youth to get on the slopes. This will work both on a larger scale with school programs and on an individual level with classes for members.
Currently, there are a number of programs for inner-city schools to have trips to ski resorts. While this is a great move in the right direction, most of these trips only happen once a year for these students and they never truly get the chance to improve on their skills.
An easy-to-access page where the user can find POC groups and events in their region.
There are POC ski clubs throughout the country but not a lot of people know they exist or how to find them.
Potential users said that they might feel more welcomed by having access to connecting to people like them, speak their language, and have backgrounds like them
Equipment is expensive and renting every time can rack up quickly. Steeze will provide Gear Share events where members can sell, buy or gift second-hand equipment.
Many view snow sports as a wasted cost. Many current skiers and boarders say they only got into it in the first place because they either found cheaper equipment or were given it by a friend/family.
Steeze Snow Team
Steeze will officially sponsor POC riders to help them continue to compete at a higher level.
Children find their identity by watching and mirroring others around them. Therefore it is important for Black children to have people that look like them competing in events, so they never think that the possibility is for others and not them.
02 | MOBILE EXPERIENCE
Steeze Community Foundation
Forum allowing users to donate directly to the programs that Steeze provides.
Users can shop for equipment design by Black creatives. All profits go towards the Steeze Community Foundation.
With some of the gear implementing a Made-to-Measure tool to make sure that members can ride as comfortably as possible.
The experience of snow gear can be unwelcoming from the very start of getting the right clothing. Winter clothing tends to be made for a certain body type without any consideration of the many different types of body shape.
04 | SOCIAL
05 | FEEDBACK
Does Steeze belong in the snow culture world?
Throughout the process of this project, I seeked out feedback from those that would potentially benefit from Steeze. During the creation, I had the amazing opportunity of speaking to some of the trailblazers of BIPOC in snow sports.
"We absolutely need non-profit programs like this that can take inner-city kids up to the mountains to introduce them to snow sports and support their growth.
These programs not only give kids the chance to experience a new sport, they widen overall horizons and provide tools to break through barriers.
More programs like [STEEZE] would be a great help."
- Bonnie St. John
First African-American to win medals in the Winter Olympics
"You don’t see too many brothers doing 100 ft cliff drops like you see on tv. But when you have that old school skate style, like your magazine, it matters.
People will see this and think ‘Oh I can do that'."
- Russell Winfield
First Black Pro Snowboarder
“F*CK YEA MAN... a lot of schools and kids would kill to have programs like this.
[feeling welcome] It really depends on the place and the culture at the mountain. I’ve been to a lot of different slopes and some places felt welcome some places I didn’t. For some of the youngins, it would be nice to have a website like this where they can find where other Black people are hanging out to feel more at ease."
- Stevie Bell
Pro Freestyle Snowboarder
03 | STEEZE MAG
Tapping into Skate Culture
Skateboarding has made huge strides in breaking itself from its white-washed image. One of the main pushes to do so was bringing in diversity to some of the bigger publications (ie. magazines). Steeze Mag will be a physical and digital publication that showcases that not all riders are the ones you see on TV.