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Henri Rivers, who serves as president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS), enjoys reading through glossy ski magazines. But when he does, he’s looking for more than training tips and the latest gear; he starts by flipping through to see how many advertisements feature Black people. Earlier this month, he was somewhat pleased to see that one publication had a double-page ad of a Black couple on page four. “It was the only picture [of Black people] in the whole magazine, but it was on page four,” he says. “That was OK, but not good enough.”
Though Rivers is accustomed to the heavily white demographics of the ski and snowboard industry, the 49-year-old nationwide organization he leads is working to change it. NBS’s mission: “Identify, develop, and support athletes of color who will win international and Olympic winter sports competitions representing the United States,” while also increasing Black participation in winter sports more broadly. That objective took center stage in Snowmass Village earlier this month during the organization’s annual summit. The fact that the dates of the summit overlapped with the first few days of the Beijing Olympics was a happy coincidence. “It allowed our athletes to watch some of the events together and dream together,” Rivers says.
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There’s a lot of room to dream. According to data from a recent SnowSports Industries America study, Black participation in skiing hovered at just 9.7 percent (7.6 percent for snowboarding) during the 2019-20 season. The U.S. Ski and Snowboarding teams are entirely white. So were the Olympic podiums for both sports.
The organization’s Olympic Scholarship Fund is part of the plan to improve those ratios. Through donations from the 54 local ski clubs that comprise NBS, along with partnerships from major brands—including Colorado’s own Scarpa, Spyder, and Smartwool—the fund provides scholarships to promising Black snowsports athletes around the country. Kim Miller, CEO of Scarpa North America, says the company’s participation offers an opportunity to “contribute to creating more diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoor recreation community and to find new ways to invite, interact, and introduce all people, especially people from underrepresented communities, to the sports we love.”
This year, 19 athletes—the largest class ever—received scholarships through the NBS fund. Ranging in age from 11 to 21, each member receives between $1,500 and $12,000 to help with training, coaching, race fees, and travel costs. Below are three Colorado athletes on NBS scholarships that you should keep an eye out for during the 2026 Olympics or beyond.
Brian Rice II
Sport: Slopestyle and big air snowboarding
Training base: Copper Mountain
Backstory: Michigan native Brian Rice II took his first turns at four years old on a plastic snowboard in the ditch outside his house. He earned the nickname Flyin’ Brian because he was “always jumping, flipping, and spinning,” according to his mom Kat Brauer-Rice. “It just never stopped,” she says. Rice recently became the first Black snowboarder to be sponsored by a ski resort thanks to an endorsement by Copper Mountain, where he now trains. He’s also already found his way into the top 10 of the U.S. junior rankings. Next on the docket: Become the first Black athlete on the U.S. Snowboarding team and, if all goes according to plan, represent his country in the 2026 Winter Games.
Sport: Giant slalom skiing
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Backstory: Those who watched Warren Miller’s most recent movie, Winter Starts Now, will recognize Jayna Davis. The promising 14-year-old, who formerly trained in Steamboat Springs, appeared in the film along with a few other NBS athletes. These days, Davis attends the Holderness School in New Hampshire, which boasts a school ski program that’s produced 17 Olympians and 38 United States National Team members. Her NBS scholarship helps fund attendance at the private school, but even more importantly, “being a part of [the NBS] community, along with my friends who are also in the program, provides a support system I can’t get anywhere else,” she says.
Sport: Mogul skiing
Training base: Vail Ski Resort
Backstory: Ava Keenan, a sixth grader at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, has been skiing moguls for about three years now. At 11 years old, she’s already outpacing her 16-year-old competitors in the Rocky Mountain Freestyle Competitive Series, something she plans to keep doing until it lands her on the Olympic podium as the first Black mogul skier to win gold. “I want people to know that I’m the best,” she said on the Kathie J Show earlier this year. “I know I can do it. I just need to put in the work.”
How to Get involved With NBS
Join or spread the word about the Colorado ski clubs that are a part of NBS, including Ski Noir 5280 and the Slippers-N-Sliders Ski Club (which both meet in the Denver area), as well as Ski Ambassadors of Colorado Springs. Those interested in offering financial support to an individual ski club or a specific NBS athlete can do so by donating via the organization’s website.