Diversity in Ski Racing: The Athlete Perspective
On July 15, 2020, Henri Rivers, CEO, President and Founder of Drumriver Consultants, President of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, hosted a virtual panel “Discussing Racial Diversity in Snowsports.” The panel brought industry leaders and participants together for a frank conversation about the current landscape of racial diversity in the snowsports industry and began to talk through ways we can create a more inclusive community. Panelists included Snowsports Industries America Board Chair, Wendy Carey; NSAA CEO, Kelly Pawlak; Ski Coach and National Competition Director, Forrest King-Shaw; Winter4Kids CEO & President, Schone Malliet; Share Winter Foundation CEO, Constance Beverley; as well as U.S. Ski Team alumna, Lauren Samuels.
Please join us on Monday, Nov. 23, for our second panel in U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s diversity, equity, and inclusion event series: “Diversity in Ski Racing: The Athlete Perspective.” Henri (moderator) and Lauren (panelist) return and will be joined by a talented group of African American ski racers to dive deeper into the topic of diversity in snowsports from the athlete perspective. Panelists include three-time Paralympian and 11-year member of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team Ralph Green, U.S. Ski Team alumni Andre Horton and Suki Miller, as well as Dartmouth College Ski Team alumnus and former U.S. Ski & Snowboard employee Justin Samuels.
“Diversity in Ski Racing: The Athlete Perspective” sets out to shine a spotlight on issues we otherwise may ignore or fail to recognize as a predominantly white industry. This panel will seek to take the audience on an educational journey by creating awareness through shared athlete experiences, highlight common themes of racism that existed throughout these athletes’ ski racing careers, as well as discuss ideas on how we, as a community, can address these particular issues and create a more inclusive space within the snowsports industry. The audience will get to know the athletes, and understand how their athletic achievements have translated into professional success in their current pursuits. The conversation will not be easy, but one that leads to positive discussion.
Please register here and join us for what should be an illuminating event and a unique opportunity for the snowsports community.
Henri Rivers (moderator):
Henri Rivers is a native New Yorker and an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast for over 45 years. He is a professional ski instructor, certified master teacher and children’s specialist as well as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine coach, jury advisor, referee and official. He coaches in the Alpine race program at Windham Mountain in the Catskill region of New York.
Henri attended Marist College and received a B.S. in Biology in 1982. He worked for several companies as a construction engineer and project manager before founding and managing the Drumriver Companies.
Henri became involved with the National Brotherhood of Skiers in 1996 and has held many positions within the organization. He started as a club president and moved on to become the mid-west regional competition director. In 2003 he became a coach for the national team of NBS and in 2008 was appointed the Olympic Scholarship Fund Administrator. During his tenure as OSF administrator, he grew the national team to 15 athletes. In 2016 he was appointed the National Competition Director and in 2018 was voted in as the Executive Vice President of the National Brotherhood of Skiers. He served for two years and was elected National President of the NBS in March of 2020.
Ralph Green is an 11-year member of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team and a three-time U.S. Paralympian (2006, 2010, 2014). While active as a ski racer he partnered with Cox, United Airlines, The Home Depot and Rocket Fuel as a sponsored athlete and brand ambassador. A former board member of Disabled Sports USA, Ralph is a motivational speaker with a strong emphasis on youth violence. He has an MBA with a marketing concentration from Keller Graduate School of Management. Currently, Ralph is a market sales manager at Frito Lay. His clients include King Soopers, Walmart, Safeway, Sam's Club, Target and the Air Force Academy. Ralph also serves on the Adaptive Spirit Board of Directors.
Suki Miller was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska and is a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with degrees in journalism and mathematics. She started skiing at a young age at a very small ski area, Hilltop. Suki and her brother Andre qualified for the U.S. Ski Team with support from the National Brotherhood of Skiers.
After ski racing, Suki worked in the private, government and non-profit sectors creating and communicating policies that promote healthy, culturally empowered communities. She is a passionate advocate for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her time working on statewide initiatives cultivated an authentic appreciation for the vastness of Alaska, geographically, culturally and ideologically.
When not at work, Suki enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family, especially watching her toddler and the cousins “send it” down driveways and sledding hills.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, a quarter-mile from a nordic ski track, and a mile from a nordic ski jump and ski area, Andre Horton learned it all at a young age. He eventually focused on alpine racing and in his first out-of-state competition, finished on the podium. After graduating from high school Andre left for Wyoming to ski for the Jackson Hole Ski Club with his sister, Suki. Andre was named to the U.S. Ski Team and competed on the Nor-Am and Europa Cup circuits. He retired from the U.S. Ski Team in 2004 and joined the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board of Directors as an athlete representative through 2008.
Andre has an MBA in entrepreneurialism from the University of Alaska College of Business & Public Policy - Anchorage. He launched his own software development company with a close friend, focused on Alaska’s prolific oil and gas industry. He launched various other companies before taking a mid-career detour from entrepreneurialism and executive consulting to become Firefighter/EMT in early 2019. Andre sits on the Board of Directors for Credit Union 1 still consults for various Alaska-based firms and ANC’s (Alaska Native Corporations). He is a talented photographer (www.andrehorton.net) and enjoys spending time with his family.
Justin Samuels was born and raised in Minneapolis and learned to ski at a very young age growing up in a ski family. Justin earned his BA in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and his BE in Mechanical Design from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. He skied for Rowmark Ski Academy and competed in J2 Nationals (what is now similar to U16 Nationals). Justin also competed in NCAA Division 1 ski racing as part of the Dartmouth Ski Team.
After earning his BE, Justin developed PointsStalker, an iOS app that makes it easy to access any athlete’s FIS data. His professional history includes working for U.S. Ski & Snowboard as mobile systems manager, Brydge Keyboards as product manager, and BodyGuardz as director of product development. Justin recently took a new position with Fictiv as senior product manager.
Lauren Samuels was born and raised in Minneapolis and learned to ski at age two. She started racing with Team Gilboa out of Hyland Hills, MN, and developed as a ski racer until she was named to the U.S. Ski Team’s development team in 2009 after winning J2 Nationals Overall and Super-G titles. During the 2010 season Lauren was cut from the U.S. Ski Team but dropped everything and moved to Utah to ski and attend school with Rowmark Ski Academy and competed on the World Junior Championship Team. For the next two seasons Lauren competed as an invitee to the U.S. Ski Team’s C Team racing on the NorAm and Europa Cup circuits. From 2013-2017 Lauren skied for the University of Utah’s NCAA Division 1 Ski Team and became a National Champion her senior year, during which she was Team Captain.
She earned a BS in Athletic Training and completed her medical school prerequisites. After finishing undergrad, Lauren coached for two years at Team Gilboa, then Rowmark. Currently Lauren is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Oregon - Lundquist College of Business, studying sports product management with the intentions of pursuing a career in the sports and outdoor industry. She is also a member of both the University of Oregon - Portland and U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees.
For more information on U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion in snowsports, please visit usskiandsnowboard.org.