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SKI: We Can All Learn From the First Ski Shoot Featuring and Shot by BIPOC

By Megan Harrod
September, 15 2021
U.S. Ski Team alumna Lauren Samuels
U.S. Ski Team alumna Lauren Samuels carves a sweet arc at a photo shoot at Powder Mountain, shot by the legendary Stan Evans for SKI.

U.S. Ski Team alumna Lauren Samuels and brother Justin Samuels—Dartmouth College Ski Team alumnus and former U.S. Ski & Snowboard employee—went to Powder Mountain in Utah to participate in a photoshoot with Olympian and X Games standout Errol Kerr, shot by the legendary Stan Evans. As SKI wrote regarding their cover featuring Kerr, "The Cover of Our 2022 Gear Guide is An Important First"...until now, "SKI has never put a Black skier shot by a Black photographer on our cover."

Sierra Shafer, SKI Editor-in-Chief, said in her cover story, 

The cover of the magazine on newsstands and sent to subscribers this week features Olympian and X Games standout Errol Kerr. In many ways, the image looks familiar—SKI has certainly featured its share of skiers gouging formidable trenches into corduroy. But the origin story of this image is unique.

When photographer Stan Evans connected with Kerr and two other skiers for a two-day photo shoot at Utah’s Powder Mountain, it was as standard as any of the hundreds of photoshoots Evans has produced in his 20-plus-year career photographing skiing and snowboarding. It was, however, the first time he’d worked alongside all Black skiers, including Lauren Samuels, the captain of the 2017 NCAA National Championship ski team, and her brother, Justin Samuels.

In fact, it was the first time any of them had been on a ski shoot with another Black skier or photographer—the first time they weren’t, in some way, standing alone. The occasion deserves to be commemorated with this, the cover of our 2022 Gear Guide.

This issue marks a new season in SKI Magazine’s story. With a fresh redesign, new logo, inspired writers, and more, we intend to change what you expect from SKI. We aim to transform what we all think a skier should look like or where a skier should go. By centering and celebrating a broader, more accurate picture of skiing both as we see it now and how we hope to see it in the future, we can be part of protecting the greatest, least important thing in the world: Skiing. (Read More)

In a story entitled "We Can All Learn From the First Ski Shoot Featuring and Shot by BIPOC" that was first published by Outside Business Journal, a partner brand of SKI, Evans poignantly wrote about the project,

This past March, SKI hired me for a stock photo shoot at Utah’s Powder Mountain. In some ways, it was pretty standard—myself and three skiers, knocking off a laundry list of imagery: high speed carving shots, laughing while carrying skis shots, après shots…the usual. On the other hand, it was unlike any photo shoot ever done in the history of skiing.

That’s because all four of us are Black.

I’ve shot skiing and snowboarding for over 20 years, but this was only the second time I’ve done an all-Black shoot. The first was 20 years ago when I organized an all-Black shoot with Keir Dillon, Ahmon Stamps, Damon Morris, and Ben Hinkley for Snowboarder. This time around, as with the first time, what struck me was the conversations we had during our time together. Being on the hill, setting marks and hitting them, creating the imagery—that’s that same as it ever was. But the discussions between shots, the places our conversations went in the evening over a meal—those are not things I’m used to talking about in this context.

Errol Kerr, the former X Games and Olympic skiercross competitor, was one of the skiers with me at Powder Mountain. In his 20 years of skiing, he’d never done a shoot with a single Black person, let alone three of us. We talked about the adversity his family went through to keep him on skis, what we’ve encountered when we’ve pushed for equity in the past, what made us feel bad, what made us feel good. It’s stuff that he’s kept mostly bottled up for his entire career.

The other two skiers were Justin and Lauren Samuels. Lauren, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team development squad, arrived at Powder Mountain in a similar position to a lot of BIPOC outdoor athletes: suddenly in high demand. Prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics, she consulted with and was talent on a Procter & Gamble shoot produced by Wieden + Kennedy. The two of us talked at length about the differences between commercial and editorial production—the pay rates, what’s fair, what’s not; what makes sense from a financial standpoint, and what needs to change from an inclusivity standpoint.

Both Lauren and Justin Samuels participated in a U.S. Ski & Snowboard diversity, equity, and inclusion panel last November entitled "Diversity in Ski Racing: The Athlete Perspective" and are also members of U.S. Ski & Snowboard's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

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