What sports have barriers we can break down?

SMA, CAFI and partners look to summer after successful Latino ski day

By Erin Spillane Planet Contributor Via Telluride News

Participants from this year’s Latino Downhill Ski Day, which took place on March 26. (Photo by Tim Barber)

Sunday, March 26, was chilly on the mountain with temperatures that began in single digits and barely rose into the teens by afternoon, but that didn’t stop those involved in Latino Downhill Ski Day from having a blast.

“The day was so much fun, and educational for people that had never had the experience of doing this sport,” participant Claudia Tovar said. “The instructors were very nice and patient, as were the (organizers). I feel grateful for the opportunity to learn something new and thanks to this event, it has motivated my kids’ interest in this sport. I had no idea that they were going to like it so much.”

Said regular participant, Briky Rodriguez, “For me, every year is a new experience. I always learn a new technique, the instructor was very nice and the best part for me is that she spoke Spanish.”

She added, “I really like the organizations that planned this event; everyone had everything they needed.”

Those organizations included Sheep Mountain Alliance (SMA), the Wilkinson Public Library, Collaborative Action for Immigrants (CAFI), One to One Mentoring, Telksi, Telluride Conference Center and Telluride Sports.

SMA Program Coordinator Ruthie Boyd said that around 50 people took part, a slightly lower-than-usual figure likely explained by the day’s frigid temps.

Telluride Ski and Snowboard School instructors headed up six groups of skiers and boarders for lessons donated by the ski resort, which also contributed lift tickets.

“We are so grateful to Telski for their support,” Boyd said. “Their donations made a huge difference to us and the success of the event.”

Boyd pointed to the donation of indoor space by the Telluride Conference Center, which, she said, “meant we were able to have coffee and pastries in the morning, and all the instructors could meet up with the skiers and snowboarders indoors. It made the day go so much smoother.”

Boyd also echoed Tovar and Rodriguez — “We heard a lot of good things from people about how happy they were to be there.” — and praised the partnerships that “made the day possible.”

She continued, “It was truly a collaborative effort, and we were so excited to see more community members getting out on the mountain enjoying this thing — skiing — that so much of the community cares about.”

Latino Downhill Ski Day is part of a wider series of events designed to get more locals into outdoor recreation.

Claudia Garcia Curzio is the library’s Latino outreach coordinator and a member of CAFI. She pointed to the importance of both the series and the collaborations that are making it possible.

“CAFI has been working really hard with Sheep Mountain Alliance to bring more equitable activities to our underrepresented community members, and this event really shows our efforts and how we all really try to be inclusive, but most importantly equitable,” she said.

Boyd added, “This is the big reason we do this. Skiing is the economy here for a large part of the year in Telluride, so to see all these people who support that part of the economy, but who don’t always get to participate in skiing, is really great.”

She continued, “The more people get to try a new sport, the more they are likely to try it out on their own. Inspiring members of our community to try the sport, learn the sport and then move through the systems and enjoy that sport on their own and with their community is definitely our goal with these programs.”

“These programs” include not just Latino Downhill Ski Day, but also a Nordic day and a summer programming that this year will include seven or eight outdoor events, including a hiking series and overnight camping, along with climbing and mountain biking days, according to Boyd.

There will be a kickoff event on June 12 at the library at 5 p.m. for community members to come and learn about the summer events.

Said Boyd, “We keep asking ourselves, ‘What sports have barriers we can break down?’”

She described those barriers: “Not only are there barriers of cost and knowledge of the sport and knowledge of the systems of how to get into the sport, but also there is definitely a lack of representation in these sports.”

Marisa Marshalka agreed. The bilingual case manager at One to One Mentoring took part in the ski day and remarked that building a community of outdoor recreationists within the local Latin community makes sense on a number of levels.

First, she pointed to a conversation she had with one of the participants, who “talked a lot about skiing and hiking and climbing with her kids, and how that has really done a lot of her self-esteem and sense of belonging here. I feel the same way when I get to experience these things.”

Marshalka also recalled taking last chair that day with a young participant whose mother catered the event, a connection that in turn spurred this girl’s attendance.

“She was really excited,” Marshalka said. “We were riding the chairlift together and she was talking about how at the beginning of the year she told her mom she really wanted to ski that year. She turned to me and said, ‘And now, look, I’m here and my mom made this happen for me. I love my mom!’”

Marshalka paused and then remarked: “From a hyper-localized lens, there have been a lot of conversations and meetings around town relating to town planning and community vision that have included much discussion around Telluride still being seen as having the heart of a ski town and the soul of a community that spends time in the outdoors.”

She continued, “If that’s part of our identity, then I think it’s important to see the whole community in these outdoor spaces.”

Those interested in supporting SMA’s summer programming, including through donations and gear donations, can contact [email protected].

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Anne-Britt of Mountain Rose Realty understands that not everyone is able to take part in all the wonderful activities Telluride has to offer. That's why she was delighted when Sheep Mountain Alliance (SMA) launched their very first "Latino Downhill Ski Day." This groundbreaking event offered members of the local Latin community a chance to experience skiing without any barriers or costs. With this initiative, SMA showed their commitment to creating a more inclusive, inviting community in Telluride.

If you're looking for a real estate consultant who is dedicated to helping people find the perfect home in Telluride, look no further than Anne-Britt of Mountain Rose Realty! With her passion for getting involved with the local community and years of expertise in the real estate industry, she's your go-to source for all your Telluride real estate needs. Contact her today to learn more about what she can do for you!

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