OurSundays: Finding the Joy in Skiing

OurSundays: Finding the Joy in Skiing

Tom Kelly

By Tom Kelly \ February 25 2024

A big part of the history of skiing is the fellowship of ski clubs. And before you write it off as a thing of the past, meet the OurSundays Ski & Board Club. This started out to be a podcast on diversity, exploring OurSundays’ affiliation with the National Brotherhood of Snowsports. But it quickly became a celebration of why we all love to ski and ride – a culture shared by all. 

Domeda Duncan and Mark Giles are two transplants to Utah. Domeda skied as a child in Detroit. The closest Mark came to the sport was on a jet ski in Florida. But as new Utahns, they both wanted to explore winter in the mountains on skis. After all, wasn’t that what Utah was about?


Ski Utah’s Discover Winter program provided that opportunity.


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Born out of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Discover Winter is now in its third season. Ski Utah made a unique decision to focus its diversity program on adults. Domeda and Mark are prime examples of how it has worked. 

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It's selfie time for Mark Giles and Domeda Duncan at Brian Head.

If you’re a longtime skier or rider, chances are that as much as you love the sport, there are aspects that you take for granted. Hang out with the OurSundays gang, and they’ll remind you that, at its core, skiing and snowboarding are about social engagement. It’s the sizzle of the bacon alongside the buttermilk pancakes in the Brighton parking lot as the first rays of sun glint off Milly. Or it’s karaoke after a joyous day on the slopes. As Domeda says, "It brings out the best in all of us." 


The new OurSundays club is now a part of the National Brotherhood of Snowsports, a nationwide organization of Black ski clubs that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Formed by Hall of Famers Ben Finley and Art Clay, it blossomed over the years with its Black Summit, widely known as the most fun week in skiing. Domeda’s own roots in the sport trace back to the Jim Dandy Ski Club, one of the founding programs of NBS.

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Mark Giles and Domeda Duncan of OurSundays Ski & Board Club are all smiles during a blizzard at Snowbasin.

Industry leaders, like Ski Utah, have long grappled with how to make the sport more inviting for people of color. We could all learn a few things from OurSundays. Listen in to this Last Chair conversation with Mark Giles and Domeda Duncan. It’s an enlightening look at why we all love the culture of skiing and snowboarding. 


And if you run into Domeda on the slopes, ask her for that buttermilk pancake recipe. Now settle in for this episode of Last Chair.


Domenda Duncan

“There is nothing like knowing the night before that you're going to go skiing the next day. You're driving up the canyon, and you get there, and everybody has that same level of excitement that you do. Everyone's in a great mood. There's something about skiing that brings out the best in people.”


Mark Giles

“The instructor was like, ‘Mark, you have to be able to look up.’ It was just a beauty that I'd never seen before – just seeing how the snow was draping the other peaks and the other mountains off in the distance. It brought a sense of tranquility for me and just calmness.”



OurSundays


OurSundays describes itself as a social impact organization that helps people thrive in Utah by creating opportunities for them to connect, have fun through unique experiences, and learn new things. Just last fall, in September 2023, the OurSundays Ski and Board Club was founded, focusing on a mission to build community and a passion for snow sports. From free lessons to morning tailgates, karaoke to cookouts, even in its infancy, OurSundays is already impacting access to snow sports for black enthusiasts living in or visiting Utah. As an affiliate of the National Brotherhood of Snowsports, the footprint of the Utah-based social club is ever greater.

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Discover Winter

In 2021 when Ski Utah set out to develop a program to help foster a more inclusive environment on the slopes, it made the decision to focus on adults. The objective of what was to become Discover Winter was to foster a lifelong love of skiing and snowboarding across Utah’s ethnically diverse community. Three years later, the program is thriving, with over 500 persons of color introduced to the sport. The thriving sport and social experiences offered by clubs like OurSundays are an example of the quick impact Discover Winter has had on the sport in Utah. Program participants receive four lessons during January and February at noted Utah resorts, including Alta Ski Area, Brighton Ski Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Snowbird, Snowbasin, Solitude Mountain Resort, Sundance Mountain Resort, and Woodward Park City. Ski Utah provides gear and transportation. At the end, participants get a Ski Utah Yeti Pass, providing one day at each of Utah’s 15 resorts.

 
Transcript

Tom Kelly: |00:00:00| Welcome back to Last Chair. We have some great guests here today, Mark Giles and Domeda Duncan. I'd like to welcome you to Last Chair. Thanks for joining us here.


Domeda Duncan: |00:00:08| Thank you for having us. Appreciate you.


Tom Kelly: |00:00:09| We're going to talk about diversity and skiing and a whole bunch of other things. We're going to talk about Ski Utah's Discover Winter program, which is an amazing program. Before we dive into that, though, how's your ski season going so far? It's going.


Domeda Duncan: |00:00:21| Great. Uh, clocked in I think about 15 days. So I think for a beginner I'm feeling pretty good about that.


Tom Kelly: |00:00:29| That's pretty awesome, actually. Yeah. Mark, how are you doing?


Mark Giles: |00:00:33| I'm doing good as well. I'm shy of Domeda’s 15, but I'm maybe around 10 or 11. And what's beautiful about this ski season, to add on to it, is that I've been able to go out of state outside of Utah and ski at Copper Mountain. I just want to put that out there.


Tom Kelly: |00:00:48| That's great. Awesome.


Tom Kelly: |00:00:50| I actually just got back from a trip to Europe, so put that on your list. I had a great experience. I do this every January right now. I worked with the U.S. Ski Team for 30 some years and went to a lot of places for races, and now my objective is to go back to all the places I missed and just have fun skiing. And I'm really kind of meandering here a little bit. But one of the things that, and I'm sure you guys have experienced this, that why I like to go and travel and ski is that to me, skiing is not just going down the runs and having that exhilarating experience. It's the whole cultural adventure, right?


Mark Giles: |00:01:27| Yes, I agree, I definitely agree. I mean, for me learning and jumping in the skiing, uh, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. Right. Got into it, I learned. And then when I got my grips and the instructor was like Mark, you have to be able to look up. Don't keep looking at your feet. Just don't. It was just a beauty that I've never seen before, in all honesty. And just seeing how the snow was draping the other peaks and the other mountains off in the distance, um, it brought a sense of tranquility for me. A lot of tranquility and just calmness.


Domeda Duncan: |00:02:03| I feel like there is nothing like knowing the night before that you're going to go skiing the next day and you get everything prepared, or some things you already have prepared in like a backpack or something. But you get your clothes on the next morning and you're driving up the canyon and you get there, and everybody has that same level of excitement that you do. Like they're excited to be out there and everyone's in a great mood. And, so there's something about skiing that I think brings out or being outside in nature as well, brings out the best in people. That helpful attitude that, um. I don't know the shared enjoyment of being together in a space outdoors. And so that's what I really love about skiing. It's. I don't know. It's the full experience. And then when you get on the mountain and then you're going down and everybody feels happy and at peace, and you find that peace of tranquility that Mark is talking about, and it feels incredibly freeing, too.


Tom Kelly: |00:03:05| I really love this because you're although I know we're going to talk about your history in the sport, Domeda, I know you go back to when you were a young girl in Detroit, but you're relatively new to the sport out here, out here in Utah. So you have these really fresh thoughts. And I think for those of us I've skied for 50 years, so I have my own kind of perceptions and things. But I think the biggest thing that I worry about sometimes myself is taking it for granted. So I love Mark, what you said about your instructor telling you, don't look down at your feet, you know, just look ahead, which is a good technique thing to do. But I instantly was thinking about getting off the Peak Five lift at Canyons and going down Upper Crowning Glory where I could look kind of a narrowish run. I could look at my feet, I could look at the snow ahead of me. But if I put my head up, I'm looking out at the Uintas and I can see the snow-capped peaks that are 30 or 40 miles away. And it just gives me that great feeling of being outdoors.


Mark Giles: |00:03:58| Yeah, I mean, I really, I really love it. And, um, I'm two years, maybe about two years. I learned in 22 – 2022 about March. Um, so I'm not that I'm very, very new to the sport. I just want to make that clear. I'm new to the sport, but what I've felt while skiing, I've never felt elsewhere. What I've seen skiing, I've never seen that elsewhere. Um, and I can't get enough of it. And I wanted to add to what Domeda was saying about waking up and getting out there early and everyone's mood getting lifted. I think for me, the other piece of beauty in the sport is that no matter the level, we can all do it together, no matter the level, whether you're intermediate, beginner, advanced, or expert, as you would see on snowbirds, um, the way they categorize it. Um, yeah. We can. It's something we can all share. I can do a longer run and meet you at where you may start, or where you got off off of the lift. And, you know, maybe you could try the longer run with me and we'll just, we'll make our way down there.


Domeda Duncan: |00:05:05| That's true.


Tom Kelly: |00:05:07| That’s a really good way to look at it. And you know again as a veteran skier I just think we take these things for granted. So listeners if you've been skiing there for a lot of years, you know, think about what Mark and Domeda are saying because this is really what the sport's about. It's what got us all into it. Let's get into your backgrounds a little bit. And, Domeda you're from Detroit, by the way, and this is a Packer fan saying this,but, Go, Lions. I was rooting for the Lions. Uh, unfortunately, they didn't get into the Super Bowl, but that day is going to come. But that was really fun to see that. But give us a little sense of your background. You actually were part of a really historic ski club there.


Domeda Duncan: |00:05:40| That's right. So I was born in Georgia. My family, my mother, um, my younger brother, and I moved to Detroit when I was about five years old. That's where all of my family is. Um, and I was raised there up through college, went to Michigan State University. But when I was in when I was a child, my grandfather, he had a huge impact on, I think, my perspective on being out in nature. And so when I was young, he and my mother said, hey, maybe we should sign up. Domeda in this ski clinic for children through the Jim Dandy Ski Club. And I was no more than maybe six, seven, eight. I don't remember, um, but I remember being bundled up and having on these uncomfortable ski boots at the time and, you know, just sliding on the snow. I remember it vividly. And so after that point, it just kind of went away because in Detroit I don't live you don't live very close to ski resorts. And there apparently are very many in Michigan. And so when I was in college, there was another opportunity through a club that I was a part of, and we went and it was a great time. And then I kind of put it in my back pocket because it wasn't a part of my immediate surroundings. And so when I had the opportunity to move out here to excuse me, to Utah, um, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I love being outside. I actually started in hiking and camping and all that kind of stuff, but I was like, hey, we're in Utah. This is what Utahns do. Uh, and I tried it out. And what was wonderful is, um, I found out about the Discover Winter program, and I know we'll talk about that a little bit more later, but that's kind of like my path to skiing. And it's been joyous, the full process. And I'm just happy. I'm so grateful that, uh, I've been afforded this opportunity to live in a place and also take advantage of the recreation of being a skier right in the mountains here.


Tom Kelly: |00:07:47| How about you, Mark?


Mark Giles: |00:07:48| So I'm Trinidadian. That's that's my bloodline. I'm West Indian. That's in the West Indies. So, um, tropical. That is all I know. But I grew up in Bradenton, Florida, and, um, the closest thing to skiing that I had was jet skiing.


Tom Kelly: |00:08:04| So not very similar at all.


Mark Giles: |00:08:07| You know, I'm on the water, I'm holding on to the jet ski, and I'm, I'm not doing tricks, but I'm still having fun. So nature was for me was plenty of beaches, um, even walking through like, trails and forts because I lived in North Florida for a while where they're more forested areas there. So, I mean, from North Florida, Tallahassee. I ended up moving, accepting a job here in Salt Lake City, and I moved here. Um, that would have been summer of 2021. So summer 21 got through the summer because I'm used to hot weather, tropical weather. We enter the winter. I met some cool people through and throughout the, uh, the time, well, my early time here and they mentioned to me about the Discover Winter program. Right. I thought it sounded cool. I said, that's great, but that is not me. That is, I'm not interested in putting in my mindset. How I describe it sticks on my feet and sliding down the mountain. Um, so I learned about it and it was great. But within that time, the media was one of the first people that I met when I moved out here in Salt Lake City to Utah. And so she, with her phenomenal research ability, found the program on her own. And she went through the program. She told me about it, and I believe she signed me up for it.


Tom Kelly: |00:09:27| Is that right?


Domeda Duncan: |00:09:28| I did sign him up for it, and I told him about it after the fact.


Mark Giles: |00:09:31| And I'm the type of person like, I like adventure. So that was that was easy. Um, but I'm also about commitment. So I saw it was four weeks on a Monday to learn about this place called Brighton that I never heard of. Um, and I was fully intrigued and I was interested. And somewhere I have pictures and videos of me just starting off, but that's how I came to the sport. And, um, like I said earlier, when I started learning the first five minutes, um, it just felt like something different. And even within that, I know I needed something to get me through the winter, because I've never lived in a place that snowed for, what, five months? Six months sometimes.


Tom Kelly: |00:10:11| Well, last year it was forever. That's right.


Mark Giles: |00:10:13| Sometimes forever. You know? So I needed something that would that can get me up and get me going. So at least this is something I can if I did it once a week, it's going to get me through the week. Um, and so that's my beginning of actually hitting the snow and putting on skis and ski boots. Um, and, you know, utilizing the poles that come with it.


Tom Kelly: |00:10:35| I want to just, uh, diverge from that a minute. You are a visual storyteller. Yes. Uh, tell us a little bit about your work as a filmmaker.


Mark Giles: |00:10:43| So, I mean, it's that's a I've always I've always done it. That's the thing. I've always done it. First grade, I was doing TV announcements, telling the whole elementary school about what's on the lunch menu. Um, so it's always been a part of my life. Middle school, I did, um, they had some kind of club. I'm not sure how I got into it, but I got into it, and we would make videos that aired throughout the entire school. And even from that time, thinking about thinking about it now, I think I've ever been asked this question like I got recognized for doing something when I wasn't looking for the recognition, I was doing something that I enjoyed. But it came so easy to me that when I hit high school, um, I was like, maybe I should try something else because this is too easy. But somehow I found my way back to it. I always had a camera in my hand. So to the point now, um, you know, I've just done a lot of work for different brands, different companies. I freelance, uh, I filmed a documentary in Kenya that I've won an award for. So, you know, I'll be considered an award-winning filmmaker. Um, but it's it's it's a lot and but it's something that I love. So having the skills that I have and tying that into skiing, even though I'm, I'm still learning and I'm getting better myself. I incorporate that in skiing. So I try to take pictures when I go up on the mountain with the people that I'm up there with, I try to get videos of them while they're doing their thing. Um, and I try to do selfie videos as well. So that is what I love. I love stories, I love storytelling, but I try to incorporate that any chance I get into anything else that I am doing.


Tom Kelly: |00:12:32| Love that.


Tom Kelly: |00:12:33| Domeda. I want to go back and talk a little bit more about the Jim Dandy Ski Club and just as a bit of history, it's quite an historic club. It was, I believe it was the first black ski club in America going back to the 50s.


Domeda Duncan: |00:12:43| Yes, absolutely. So there's something really interesting about, um, the being black and, uh, taking advantage of nature in Michigan. Naturally, we have the Great Lakes. So people are always out doing something out there. And so when I found out about the Jim Dandy Ski Club, um, when I got a little bit older, it was like, oh my goodness, this exists. You know, in a way that is palpable in a way that expands who has access to these type of opportunities. They make it so that it is, um, you can get discounted lift tickets or you can get discounted, um, lessons and things of the sort. And so when I moved out to Utah, I already had that foundation of knowing that ski club existed or something of the sort being in operation. And so it was almost like, well, how do we kind of fill the gap here in Utah? And so, ironically, when I was in the Discover Winter program, Henry was on the bus. He was riding up on the bus with us.


Tom Kelly: |00:13:44| And this is Henri Rivers, president of the National Brotherhood.


Domeda Duncan: |00:13:47| Right. That is you're absolutely correct. And so he was giving his spiel about the National Brotherhood of Now snow sports. And he says, we need we don't have any representation out here in Utah. And I said, I turned him. I said, well, when is it going to happen? He was like, well, we need people like yourself to like make it happen. And I was like, I don't know if that's going to be me. That was my exact thought. And so anyway, fast forward some a year or so, a couple years later maybe. Um, and I was like, well, maybe we could figure out what that looks like. By that point, we had organized trips to Brighton. This was just on our own accord. Like, not even for fun. Just because. Yeah, because of what we do as OurSundays. That's right. Um, we took it there and we was like, well, let's do a tailgate. That's right. At Brighton, which turned into two tailgates.


Domeda Duncan: |00:14:38| Exactly. And so we were just doing that stuff kind of on our own. And it was such a great time. And we were like, well, maybe we should consider a ski club out here and got connected with the Rocky Mountain region of the National Brotherhood of Snowsports, and they welcomed us with big old, wide arms, and we got all the paperwork and everything sorted out for that. And that's how we got to this point here. And, it's just kind of taken off from that point. And it's been wonderful to say the least. What we've been able to what we've been exposed to being a part of NBS and having a chapter here now, but also what that allows us to do to share the sport with more people that live here in Utah.


Tom Kelly: |00:15:24| Yeah, it's it's it's an amazing story. And we're going to talk more about the National Brotherhood before we talk about NBS and about our Sundays, your club, I want to talk a little bit about diversity. And you know, it's always a little bit awkward for us. I mean, I'm a white person who's been skiing for 50 years, and I take a lot of things for granted in the sport that I love. But a lot of us had a wake up call in 2020 with the George Floyd situation. And, you know, I know Henri Rivers, who we just spoke about was president of the National Brotherhood at that time. So he took a lot of calls from the ski industry like, what should we in the industry be doing? And if you look at the statistics and they do vary from organization to organization, but the National Skiers Association had the black skiing population as low as 1.5% of the total in the US. And even if you look at people of color, it's it's really not much more than 10 or 20%. And I just, you know, from those of us who've been skiing for so many years, we're asking the questions, you know, what should we do? How can we be more welcoming? How can we embrace this sport a little bit? And then one other point I want to throw out, and then I'll turn it over to you guys to talk about. So we had the, uh, the great snowboarding artist, uh, Lamont Joseph Wife on the podcast a few years ago. And one of the things that he brought out on this topic was he talked about culture and he talked about what different groups bring, you know, be that people of color, white people from different places, whatever. Everyone brings a bit of culture. And so as we look at the diversity question in skiing, how do you guys look at that? And how how do you feel assimilating with this sport that has historically been white but hopefully is being more embracing.


Domeda Duncan: |00:17:07| Oh that's loaded. So I'll start with how do you kind of make this more inclusive. And as it relates to diversity, one thing that I think is particularly special about the Discover Winter program, and I keep circling back because I, I do think it makes a huge impact in this, in this question. Other sports, it is not as costly to even try it. I mean, you want to do tennis, all you need is a ball, a court, which in most places you could just go to a city court or some or something of the sort and get a racket.


Tom Kelly: |00:17:44| Which is why soccer has been so successful worldwide.


Domeda Duncan: |00:17:47| Because it literally is so easy to just try. But with skiing, that's not the case. And I think for, um, for. For black people, or I can only really speak for myself. But I'll say this is that the cost or barrier to entry? To try something and to try skiing is so high that I think that that is a very easy way to get people to not be interested in even just discovering if it works for them or not. And so I think that programs like the Discover Winter hit the mark because it says, you know what, we solve the issue around transportation. We solve the issue around you need the right clothing. We solve the issue around lessons. I mean, I had family come here in November of last year and they are quite affluent. They live out in LA. And even when he came, my brother and sister-in-law and their two children, they were like, this is this is a heavy price tag. And they just wanted to come and just do it as a part of the experience of being out in Utah. And, you know, so I say all of that to say that when we think about how we make a place more inclusive, how we think about diversity and being intentional on the mountain, it's how can we break some of the cost prohibitive barriers that can be a part of what that experience looks like.


Domeda Duncan: |00:19:09| Once you kind of solve that issue, then you have people like myself, right, who said, you know, I tried this out through a program of sorts. Now I'm willing to make the investment the very next season, I got an icon pass, right? And then I rented my skis, and I purchased, um, boots because I hear in the world of skiing, the first thing you do is purchase your boots. So I did that. Um, and so those are some things that I just kind of encourage resorts and or ski associations across the country to think about. It's not just the lessons or the rentals and things like that. It's really thinking about what is the full, what are the full wrap-around that can help make this more accessible for, communities? Um, and certainly I want to say this, that there are going to be pockets of black communities where that's not necessary. They can put out the money. Right. But I'm talking about folks who are curious but don't find the initial investment worth it. Right. And so that is where I think we can we can do a little bit of a, a better job.


Tom Kelly: |00:20:16| So Mark, thoughts to add to that?


Mark Giles: |00:20:18| Yeah. So I mean, you know, if even if when we just think about Utah, some of the statistics that you just threw out reflect the whole state. Right. You just you spoke about the sport. But if we focus on the state for a while, I was um, I was at Snowbird on a lift speaking with, uh, a mountain host, and he gave me some statistics, and he said that it's only 6% of Utahns utilized the mountains in skiing in the winter time. So that means the other, what, 94? That's from all over the world. All over the place. Right. So then when you break that down and you bring it a little bit closer, when we think about percentages, clearly the percent would be more white when we're talking about skiing than black. Um, so then it goes back to what Domeda is talking about. You have to have the initiative. Investment should be worth it. The interest needs to be there. So if you can take out the investment and create a way where this person, um, who has the interest, they want to do it, discover winter is a great place in space to start. It's a great model. Yeah, a very great model. So, um, yeah, I mean, it's just you do have to think about. And then we, we all, uh, I guess I was easily say that the West has a certain demographic compared to the East. Um, and I'm just kind of just tapped or tiptoeing on, on the statistics. So the likelihood of someone from the East who's maybe of African or African American descent or black and fall into that category, having the opportunity where the majority is of a certain race and, um, the mountains are out here, it's limited. It's going to automatically be limited. That's true.


Domeda Duncan: |00:22:10| And so your second question about culture. So Mark and I, we would just go skiing together because it was like a built-in ski partner. You know, you're like, all right, well you learned I learned. Let's just go up. And so there have been times at different resorts where there would be like one other black person, and you kind of do the, the acknowledgment of like, you know, like I see you, you know, and so there is something to be said about the energy that black people bring to the mountain. Mark touched on earlier about tailgating one time when we, uh, just kind of tell them a little bit of story. When we were at Brighton, we had a full setup time, like we had six cars and six cars.


Tom Kelly: |00:22:51| We have grills, you know, we had grills and coolers. We had the.


Domeda Duncan: |00:22:55| Coolers. What are the, um. The camp, the camping stoves. We had camping stoves, we had all of that. And I mean, we.


Mark Giles: |00:23:03| Had pans, bacon, chicken sausage, pork sausage, and eggs.


Tom Kelly: |00:23:09| Wait wait wait wait wait.


Tom Kelly: |00:23:10| When's your next one?


Mark Giles: |00:23:11| So you're definitely invited. Naturally. Um, because I know that's where you're getting that. But I want to just put out on the topic of food to me to make the best pancakes. Maybe she would like to.


Tom Kelly: |00:23:22| Breakfast and lunch.


Mark Giles: |00:23:23| It was breakfast was a full breakfast before first chair.


Tom Kelly: |00:23:26| So anyone ski?


Mark Giles: |00:23:27| Yeah, we had enough. Um, we let it digest and everything, but Domeda makes the best pancakes. Maybe she could tell you what the secret is.


Domeda Duncan: |00:23:35| Um, stick of butter.


Mark Giles: |00:23:36| There you go. But, yeah, culture is, uh, culture is definitely a big part. It's a huge. Yes, which is part of it. Why it works. This partnership and what we've been able to do with Ski Utah, work with them. Um, we've definitely created a culture because like the folks, they've been so excited and they keep telling us about it. And to be honest, they don't want it to stop. Um, and I know that feeling. And I still have that feeling. And I just want to be clear, Tom, I don't take this for granted at all, you know, because it's such a great feeling.


Domeda Duncan: |00:24:09| And another thing I'll say to from the group that we, the groups that we've had an opportunity to work with through our Sundays in partnership with Utah, through the Discover Winter program. A lot of them come from other urban areas, maybe even like suburban areas, but they are so dynamic, and it is incredible to me that, you know, this opportunity has led lawyers, scientists, people that have PhDs, engineers. I mean, that bus is like it's loaded, it's loaded, and it's.


Mark Giles: |00:24:42| Educators with all ages of adults. Yes. There's no limitation on the interest and the ability to give it a shot to try it.


Domeda Duncan: |00:24:52| That's right. And so what it goes to show is you have black professionals that live out here in this state that came here because they are excellent, you know, but this is a part of their life that they haven't had exposure to. And so. This opportunity of taking advantage of the wonderful things that being on the being a participant of snow sports has brought to their lives and to our lives. It's just a tremendous gift. And I think one that we just want to keep sharing with everybody forever. Yes.


Tom Kelly: |00:25:27| You know, it's what skiing is all about. And, you know, the point that you made about you got doctors, lawyers, you have everybody. That's one of the things I've always noticed in skiing. It just brings everybody together. And it just knocks down all of those kind of maybe social norms. It's just we're all here to do one thing. Have fun out in the snow, right?


Mark Giles: |00:25:44| Bingo. Absolutely. And what I've noticed the nature people for me out here, just different. They're always joyous, always happy, always smiling. How your day going? Somebody asked me how my day going. I want to say good. But the way they ask it, I want to really tell them what I have for breakfast, what I'm going to have for lunch, and what I might cook for dinner. Mhm. Um, so that spirit, we just want to continue to add to that. And I know we, you know, I just, I like to look I like to look beyond race. I like to look at interest and ability and exposure, you know, because if we, we always everything boils down to race. We're going to always find a way to, to divide one another. So the, the, the snow sports, there's a culture each resort there's a culture. And, you know, we just want to bring our.


Domeda Duncan: |00:26:33| Our flavor.


Mark Giles: |00:26:34| To that. Yes.


Tom Kelly: |00:26:35| Well put I love it.


Tom Kelly: |00:26:37| We're going to take a short show break and we will be right back on last chair. Now we're back on last year with Marc Giles and Dimitri Duncan. Um, as I was just telling you, the break, this is one of the most fun conversations I've had in the podcast. So, so. And you know, what I really like about it is we're really getting to the roots of why all of us love to be up there in the mountain. I want to talk a little bit about the National Brotherhood. We talked a little bit about that tomato. Uh, and then talk about our Sundays, which is a club that you formed, and then talk a little bit more about the discover Winter program. But, you know, with NBS, I'm going to go back to me to, to the Jim Dandy Ski Club. That was really the origins of NBS. Uh, I think that club was formed in the late 50s and a few years later joined up with some clubs in, I think, Colorado, which ultimately led to the the start of the National Brotherhood, now the National Brotherhood of Snow Sports. Uh, you did start that chapter. And what what has that meant? Now, you're a couple of years into it right now, but what has that meant to the black community here to, to to have this connection and the activities that come with it and the camaraderie? Yeah.


Domeda Duncan: |00:27:49| So just for, um, a little bit of clarity. So OurSundays started in December of 2021. So we were doing that work for a couple of years. And then last September, I believe Mark, please correct me. Um, we became officially in our Sunday Ski and board club as part of the National Brotherhood of Snow Sports. And so during that time, they were going around. Oh, what's what are the club updates. Right. And all these different type of things on our Rocky Mountain region meeting.


Domeda Duncan: |00:28:22| Yeah. And so we were like, well, we had a great call with Ski Utah. So all of these things were kind of happening around the same time, which is almost maybe serendipitous in a way. But we had just had a conversation with the folks over at Ski Utah,  and we had a great, a successful meeting, and they were like, okay, you're connected with this black community out here. And so originally, the conversation was around 25 slots at Snowbird, and we were like, okay, I, we think we can do this. Yeah. And Tom, when I tell you we had tremendous response to saying to folks, Our Sundays has 25 slots for the Discover Winter program. Sign up. You know, um, and from that point we held an information session. This was before this was Mark and I come from a world of nonprofits and higher education. So I was used to just being out in the community. And so we had an information session. And 30-plus people came, including. You wanted to say who came?


Mark Giles: |00:29:32| Um, Albany.


Domeda Duncan: |00:29:34| Albany, of course, of course.


Mark Giles: |00:29:36| Um, as as well as, uh, Raymond Christie. He was in the building. Who else are you thinking about? Well, that's.


Domeda Duncan: |00:29:43| Exactly who I was talking about. Raymond, uh, was a part of. Yes. Raymond Christie was a part of the. One of the first. Correct.


Mark Giles: |00:29:50| He was the.


Domeda Duncan: |00:29:50| President. That's right. He was the president. The first NBS chapters in the state of Utah 20 years ago. And so having him in that room with us really felt so good because we were like, we're on the right track here. And it was almost like a symbolic passing the baton along in a way. Yeah. And um, anyway, so that went really well. And then when the applications opened, it just it shocked all of us. Yeah. And so that's when we went back to the Ski Utah team or excuse me, they approached us and said, you guys are getting a lot of folks to sign up through our sundaes. And they said, have you what do you think about expanding it to include another resort. And we said, can we do this? And we're like, yeah, let's go for it. And we felt that bus, we felt that bus. Another 25, 20, 25 slots. Yep.


Mark Giles: |00:30:41| 50 out of 50 at Snowbird.


Domeda Duncan: |00:30:43| 25 at Snowbird, 25 at Alta. Yeah. There you go. And then, um, they opened it up for us to expand to folks that lived in other areas or closer to other areas. So we had a few have a few at Snowbasin and a couple at Deer Valley. So that kind of just speaks to what we were open to doing with our sundaes as an organization. Expanding to the snow sports, because the winter time can be a challenge for a lot of people, and this is a way to take advantage of the wonderful things that Utah has to offer in that sense. And so, you know, instead of being at home and, you know, on the couch watching TV shows, which is great, maybe a part of that time you can be on the mountains learning something new and feeling the same euphoria that the rest of us get to try to, to take part in every once in a while.


Tom Kelly: |00:31:38| So, yeah, how.


Tom Kelly: |00:31:40| How are how are new prospective members finding our Sundays? Is it is it a word-of-mouth thing?


Mark Giles: |00:31:47| Yeah, it's a word of mouth. And um, so yeah, like the might have said, we started in 2021 and what we started OurSundays itself, we, we did a holiday party, um, because we wanted to we work on multiple projects together, but we had a holiday party and, um, you know, we just threw it out there into the world and people showed up, um, and we had fun and, and the premise of it was, you know, since we're out here and the premise of, of OurSundays is to kind of make out here feel like home since we're all from a lot of us are from different states, different places. So we still want to bring like a piece of home here. So we had a holiday party, had a good time, have fun. And I thought that was it. I was good, Tom, I was great no more. But folks was like, okay, so when's the next one? What's, what's the next thing, when's the next thing? And um, from there it turned into more. And we've done so much. Um, and the biggest thing is the cookout that we have yearly in July at Fairmont Park, which, you know, that'll be coming up again, but it's a lot of word of mouth. And we literally connect with the people, like everyone I've ever had a conversation with. I can tell you something about them. You know, it might not be robust, but I could tell you something about them. But beyond their name. And it's not just like it's our sundaes. They know who I am. They know who Domeda is. And to me, having that notion, we have the trust of people that if we're going to do something, we're going to execute correctly and they're going to have a great time, whether the media like to put it, whether they're here for a day or for a long terme, um, they're able to connect with us. And the word keeps getting out there between word of mouth and, naturally, social media. Um, yeah. But I would say word of mouth is the biggest.


Domeda Duncan: |00:33:37| You're 100% right, Mark. So, as relates to social media, though, which I find incredibly interesting, people search the hashtag black in Utah and we pop up. And so we've had multiple people send us direct messages on our Instagram account like, hey, basically, what is this about? And when's your next thing? And all the things. And so that was that's been another way, an interesting way that we've kind of been connected with people. Yeah. There was a woman. This is an anecdotal story, but there was a woman who I believe she signed up to participate in the Discover Winter program through our Sundays. Yeah. And she signed up for gear distribution to pick up all of her things, and.


Mark Giles: |00:34:21| I'm sorry. Oh, no, don't be sorry. Please. I just want to add the young lady she's about to tell you. About. Um, she moved here in January. I just want to give a little bit. Moved here in January. But the the discovery winter applications opened and closed in November. Just want to put that out there. You got it. All right. Cool.


Domeda Duncan: |00:34:42| So she comes to your distribution and she's like, oh, I'm so sorry. I was supposed to come yesterday, but my car hadn't made it here yet. And I'm like, what do you mean your car hadn't made it here yet? I just she had only been in Utah for a week. She had moved to Utah from Florida and had been in the state for a week, and her car was getting shipped here. And so she found us out. She found out about our Sundays through social media, was behind the scenes, keeping track of what we had going on, signed up for the Discover Winter program and November. November moved.


Mark Giles: |00:35:22| Here. In January.


Tom Kelly: |00:35:23| January she signed up before she even moved here?


Domeda Duncan: |00:35:25| Yes. Because she. Yes.


Mark Giles: |00:35:27| She had another opportunity? That's right. Another state that she could move. She chose Utah because she saw such a thriving black community out here and went through social media. And when she saw there was like things going on where she can be involved in and, and people she can meet and connect with, it just helped shift her here. That's right.


Domeda Duncan: |00:35:53| Absolutely. And so I think now she's going into her fourth week of lessons with a Discover Winter program at Snowbird. And, um, you know, she's going to be going on a cabin trip with us in March. So, I mean, I think it just speaks to your question is just it goes back to building community, looking at community as a conduit for retention across the state and being, I think, intentional about the partnerships that we have, being thoughtful about the opportunities that we're able to share with the broader community as well, and just really just serving as I think I like to think of us as the friend that you had, but you hadn't talked to in a while, but you know that they're there anytime you pick up the phone and call. Um, so yeah, that's what our Sunday's is about. That's the essence of what we do and what and how and who we are as an organization.


Mark Giles: |00:36:49| And it's cool and it's very cool that although we started here, we're based here. Here's where all the activities happen. We're able to reach people, or people are able to reach us from other states to help make their decision to either come and visit or become a resident. That's powerful.


Tom Kelly: |00:37:09| Yeah, when, I went to your website, which is excellent. Thank you. What was interesting to me was that skiing wasn't front and center. It was about people and about social and and and culture and it just really struck me again, you know, this perspective of what skiing does part a small part of it is going on skis or boards down a mountain. But the bigger part of it is all the people and the camaraderie. Right?


Domeda Duncan: |00:37:39| Yeah, that's exactly it. So it's almost like skiing and snowboarding just fit perfectly right into the work that we were doing. It's like, oh, that makes sense to add that in as a part of the our programming.


Mark Giles: |00:37:51| Yeah. And you know, that's and that's just the winter time. We might have to come back and talk about the summer.


Tom Kelly: |00:37:58| Well I'm looking I'm waiting for the.


Tom Kelly: |00:37:59| Date of the Fairmont Park, uh, party in July.


Tom Kelly: |00:38:02| We got you. Okay. Um.


Tom Kelly: |00:38:04| I want to, uh, as we wind down here, talk a little bit more about Discover Winter. And one of the things that struck me with Ski Utah came out with this program was while everybody else is putting together kids programs, Skuta decided to go the adult route. That was a big difference-maker, wasn't it?


Mark Giles: |00:38:23| Yep, I think so, for sure. Um, I mean, you know, in many spaces, being an adult, your attention span is, is better. Um, you're able to make better decisions. So being this is what for folks 18 and above when they make that decision. And there's a lot of commitment that come with it. You have to travel. You have to spend pretty much all day, whatever day you're part of the program, to be up on the slopes. So it's definitely a big commitment. But I mean, even to see adults try something new. Is is just a great it's a it's great to see. And then being a product of the program and a alum of the program, it was great to feel and to have this opportunity to say that. Yeah, you know, of course kids have many opportunities sometimes maybe those may have limited opportunities. But we notice that there's a what's the good word? There's a space where adults can come together, thrive and, uh, be a part of, you know, the ski industry, the snow sports industry.


Domeda Duncan: |00:39:28| One thing that I that I've heard a lot on the bus coming up and down the mountain, is it it ignited that feeling of being a kid again and just the excitement of trying something new. And, um, it in a way makes you feel a little more, more alive. Yeah. That cold air hitting your face and your little wobbly at first. But, you know, you're kind of like a, um, an ant, like you're learning something new, so you're kind of wobbly, and then you figure out how to just stand on all fours and, you know, you. Right. Exactly. You find your bearings. And so. Yeah, but I've heard that a lot. And across the age spectrum, um, it's that feeling of, oh, and then I can do this. It's that self-discovery again of I can try something new, maybe not be good at it at first, but maybe I can actually get there. And so I had an opportunity to go and do a green run with a group that was separating themselves from the pack a little bit, which was great for them. And just seeing that look on their face and how excited they were and then getting back on the bus and I'm like, what kind of gum are you going to come back next week? I'll be back next week. Yeah. You know, because they had such a great time.


Mark Giles: |00:40:48| And you know something I've not I could say this two ways, but I'll say there's something I've yet to see is a frown. Everyone's had their smiles all over throughout. Um, even when the closest thing I've seen to a frown would be someone just trying to figure it out. Right. Because you're focused and you're trying to maybe click into your boot, or you're trying to, you know, get your carved down right and turn or figure out the pizza French fries when they were at that stage. But it's been smiles throughout, throughout.


Tom Kelly: |00:41:19| Well, that really sums up the sport I want to we're going to get to our fresh tracks here in just a second. But just one more question to you looking into the future. And I was trying to think of how to best phrase this. And I think what I'd like to do is ask each of you, what do you want to do in skiing that you haven't done in the next five years? Mark?


Mark Giles: |00:41:34| Oh, wasted no time. So I want to. I mean, naturally, I want to get better. One of my I definitely I've yet to do a black run so I want to get comfortable in black. So right now I'm doing blues comfortably. I would like to get comfortable on blacks and a goal. I would like to be able to ski backwards. I think that's the coolest thing.


Tom Kelly: |00:41:55| Domeda?


Domeda Duncan: |00:41:58| Uh, you know, I want to do a lot more blues. And a part of me is curious about moguls and, you know, just kind of traversing through those. Um, and I also want to, I think, learn how to teach. Maybe, perhaps, maybe there's something there. I'll be getting my level one certification and Big Sky in a couple weeks.


Tom Kelly: |00:42:20| You're doing a PSIA certification, right?


Tom Kelly: |00:42:22| Awesome. Thank you, thank you.


Domeda Duncan: |00:42:24| So I'm looking forward to learning more about how to teach this sport to beginners. I was once there, so I want to pass that along to other folks. And yeah, that's what I look forward to doing more blues, trying out some moguls, and learning how to maybe be a teacher at this.


Tom Kelly: |00:42:46| I love that I'm teaching my three-year-old great-granddaughter right now, so I may call on you. Yeah. This is not easy.


Tom Kelly: |00:42:54| It's not easy.


Tom Kelly: |00:42:56| I want to thank you guys for joining us. This has just been a joyous, uh, conversation. We're going to move into our fresh tracks. Now, I've got a few quick questions. Just looking for short, simple answers. If there is one. The first one is, you know, what's your favorite Utah ski run now? Okay. Mark's looking at Domeda. So Domeda is going to go first okay? Your favorite Utah ski run.


Domeda Duncan: |00:43:15| All right at Alta off of Supreme Upper Big Dipper. That and it comes into Rock and Roll, I enjoy it. It's a it's a nice blue and it takes me to the top of the mountain and I just I enjoy it.


Tom Kelly: |00:43:28| Beautiful Mark.


Mark Giles: |00:43:29| For me, I would say Deer Valley, Homeward Bound because it's an easy cruise and its beautiful views.


Tom Kelly: |00:43:35| You know, the view is a big part of a favorite run, isn't it?


Mark Giles: |00:43:38| Yes, it's a must.


Tom Kelly: |00:43:40| I know what you're talking about.


Tom Kelly: |00:43:41| Okay. Favorite apres spot, Mark?


Mark Giles: |00:43:43| Deer Valley again? Um. Best food. Uh, what is it called? Saint Regis. I love the food there.


Tom Kelly: |00:43:50| That's beautiful. Best hot chocolate.


Mark Giles: |00:43:52| Best eggs. Everything. Best toast. Everything.


Domeda Duncan: |00:43:56| I would say, the dodo, to be honest. And I know it's far, but after I finished up at Alta or in Little Cottonwood or Big Cottonwood, I like a really good bowl of soup. And so, um, the dodo has great soup. And I know that's not a typical apres place, but.


Tom Kelly: |00:44:15| No, but it's an awesome thought. You know, it gets you down to Sugar House.


Tom Kelly: |00:44:18| Yeah.


Tom Kelly: |00:44:19| Um, okay. I'm going to throw one in here. Um, I'll go with you first, Mark. Okay. The best tailgate breakfast.


Mark Giles: |00:44:26| Best tailgate. What what what is it compromised of? Definitely eggs. Pancakes for me. Um, I like fruit, so I would throw some avocado and tomatoes in there. I'm simple. I'm really simple. Um, and orange juice on the side.


Tom Kelly: |00:44:44| Domeda. Best tailgate breakfast?


Domeda Duncan: |00:44:46| Breakfast? All right. Some buttermilk pancakes, couple of pieces of bacon, and definitely, uh, an egg fried hard. And I agree, some orange juice.


Mark Giles: |00:45:00| Orange juice or chai tea. I'm happy. Warm or cold, but orange juice or chai tea.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:08| I'm really curious, though, about the recipe on the buttermilk pancakes.


Mark Giles: |00:45:12| Please share with us.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:14| Can we put the recipe for the buttermilk pancakes in the show notes?


Domeda Duncan: |00:45:18| I might be able to hook you up, Tom. I might be able to.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:21| I love making pancakes, but, you.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:23| Know, buttermilk is a key, though.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:24| You have to use buttermilk. Yeah, you have to use buttermilk.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:27| Um, okay. Best tailgate lunch, Mark.


Mark Giles: |00:45:30| Lunch. Um, who? Lunch lunch lunch lunch. Hold on. We might have to go to Domeda. I don't have lunch set up.


Domeda Duncan: |00:45:36| Okay, well, I do at Deer Valley. I like the turkey chili. It is a classic for me. Um, I will do that.


Mark Giles: |00:45:43| Um, yeah, I mean, I will go soup. I'll go slice of pizza. Um, and that's if I'm still skiing, I will go very light if I'm still skiing.


Tom Kelly: |00:45:51| This is really smart. So my recent trip, I normally I live in a ski town, so I go out and ski for an hour and a half. So I don't generally do lunch up in the mountain. But when I was in Europe, I'm doing that light bowl of soup.


Mark Giles: |00:46:04| Yeah, Bowl of soup.


Tom Kelly: |00:46:04| That's a perfect way to do it. Yeah. Okay. We're going to close it out. The accomplishment in the sport of which you are the most proud. Mark?


Mark Giles: |00:46:14| Learning.


Tom Kelly: |00:46:16| Just learning.


Mark Giles: |00:46:17| Yeah, I'm here, I'm able to do it, and I'm enjoying it and all of that because I learned.


Tom Kelly: |00:46:23| Domeda is still thinking.


Domeda Duncan: |00:46:29| I would have to say, I’m most proud about my breath control and my lower body control. Feeling more comfortable doing that when I'm doing a steep blue that's what I'm most proud about at this point. I used to get a super nervous, but now I take a deep breath and I just own it. And that feels good when I make it all the way down.


Tom Kelly: |00:46:51| So Mark and Domeda, I've so enjoyed this conversation. And you, you've helped to kind of bring out what all of us found in skiing and why we got there. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.


Tom Kelly: |00:47:05| Thank you.


Domeda Duncan: |00:47:06| So much.


Mark Giles: |00:47:06| Thank you for having us, Tom, very much.


Tom Kelly: |00:47:08| And we'll put in the show notes the date of that Fairmont Park.


Tom Kelly: |00:47:11| So let's do it. We can get on that.


Tom Kelly: |00:47:13| So Mark Giles, Domeda Duncan, thanks so much for joining us on Last Chair.


Tom Kelly: |00:47:18| All right.

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