Sister Snowboarders!


Snowboarding is not just for the fellas. Outdoor Afro caught up with Tomar Brown (30) and Karen Anderson (36), of Washington D.C. who have found excitement and fun on the slopes.

Tomar and Karen

When asked how they each got involved with snowboarding together they said it started with rugby, which they have played competitively for the past ten years, and is where the two met and became a couple. “Rugby seems to have started a lot of things for us,” said Brown with a laugh. In the off-season she explained that some members of their rugby team take their sporting camaraderie to the slopes, so they had a ready-made community of support to get started. Even though some years ago, Karen took her young son out on the slopes to snowboard for the first time for the both of them, she found she enjoyed the sport more than he did. So she was delighted to meet Tomar years later, who re-ignited her interest in the slopes — something they enjoyed doing together.

When asked if the two ever felt uncomfortable or experienced stares while snowboarding, especially in settings where there are few people of color, the two shrugged it off and said that the slopes can actually feel anonymous as people are hidden behind layers of protective clothing and accessories. And the  journey down the mountain feels quite personal and solitary, where Tomar admits she might bump hip-hop or Kirk Franklin to get her snow groove on!

For the beginning snowboarder, Karen says, “forget the big trips and go instead to small towns.” Her favorites include North Conway, New Hampshire or when with a group, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.” She says that March is a great month to find deals in small towns, and when snowboarding away from the crowds, the experience feels more personal, and lodge bartenders remember your name! Both agreed that the most important thing is simply to learn how to snowboard, and along the way expect the sport to “beat you up, and take you down.” But once you gain control, finding that personal zone of fun and exhilarating release makes it all worthwhile.

What are your experiences skiing and snowboarding? If you have never tried, what holds you back?


12 Thoughts on “Sister Snowboarders!”

  • Beautiful. Good for these two ladies. I have only had the opportunity to get out in the snow one time, and it wasn’t even the slopes =/. I did get my go at sledding on that first trip and it was a lot of fun. I’m hoping to introduce my daughter to, and have my second go at, the snow soon.

  • You ladies are so cool!! I went to Big Bear with a friend to go,”SNOW BOARDING” and spent the day ASS Boarding. OMG,I then spent the following two months at my chiropractor’s office! I was told that the first days are the most difficult and that it gets easier.
    Hm, I didn’t have any butt left for landing to experience the wind in my face while gliding down the slope. It was so humiliating to see ALL those cool looking folks having so much fun, doing tricks, jumping, spinning, whizzing by, while I hung desperately on the safety rope. I admire your agility and sense of adventure and outdoor spirit. I will gracefully allow you to represent me on the slopes and cheer you on the sidelines. My gifts are abundant off the slopes! I concede! I will ride my motorcycle and think of you as the wind caresses my face! Brava!!

  • LUUUUV it! I first went out almost 10 years ago. I was 36 and proudly uninterested in sports of any kind. But my new boyfriend was a lifelong skier, so I decided to go and WATCH him ski one day. I still don’t know what happened, but the next thing I knew, I was obsessed. I still don’t know how to explain why I stuck with it, because it was HARD. But something about it kept drawing me back. It was probably 3 seasons (of “assboarding;” thanks for that, Renee!) before I started feeling like I was actually getting the hang of it! And I’m SO glad I kept trying. I don’t do tricks and stuff, but I enjoy the hell out of it! I’ll offer 2 suggestions for anybody thinking about starting snowboarding: take a lesson and always wear a helmet. Oh yeah, and have fun!

  • Love this story! I tried snowboarding for the first time last month and did a fair amount of assboarding myself (Renee, you’ve coined a new term!). By the end of day two, I’d figured out the balance thing, just need to work on control. I hope to get back on the slopes soon so that I don’t forget what I learned. If you want to learn, don’t give up! And don’t be discouraged.

    • Yeah — “Assboarding” is the new term for beginners thanks to Renee! Thanks Monette for chiming in and keep trying!

    • Thanks Monette! I am sorry I am getting to your comment so late, but the approval was stuck in my SPAM box — glad I check every blue moon eh? Yes, Renee coined a very appropriate phrase for what many of us do in the snow the first few times out!

  • I tried skiing twice – once at a small hill in St Louis (Hidden Valley) and once in Lake Tahoe. I enjoyed it, but it was no joke. It is a work out. There is actually a nice community of young black professionals who participate in regular ski outings and have a club or two here in St. Louis.
    Plus, my best friend is trying to arrange a trip to bring her two children 9&7 up here to learn to ski. We’ll have our own OutdoorAfro Winter Recreation outing.

    • Well when you do Danielle, you know I want to see pictures! Group trips are definitely the way to go for beginners.

  • Love this story so much. I’m a multiracial snowboarder from Upstate NY who grew up going to my local mountain 30 minutes away from me every day I could—I’m talking wearing snow pants/ski socks to school and sprinting out as soon as the last bell rang to try and get as much daylight as possible before night skiing. I breathe this stuff, but have always felt disturbed by the lack of diversity on the mountain reflected also in my rural hometown community. I’ve had the privilege of passing as white my whole life until people see me with my Dad, but I’ve never felt white enough to fit in fully with my peers. I remember in the younger years my white friends telling my Black friends (omitting me because to them I was only white) that Black people don’t ski/snowboard, so we’re “whiter” when we do. I love to see blogs like this which foster the conversation about opening up the barriers to entry for our people in outdoor activities and challenging the stereotype/stigma surrounding them!!! Thanks for sharing Tomar and Kevin 🙂 Maybe one day we can hit the slopes together

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