Ben Finley and Arthur Clay founded The National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) in the mid-1970s when it was a rarity to see African Americans on the ski slopes let alone a black ski club. Based on their contributions to the sport of skiing, they are the first black people to be inducted into the Skiing Hall of Fame, according to Kivi Boise.
In 1970, co-founders, Ben Finley, now 81-years-old, was a ski club member in New York, and Arthur Clay, now 83-years-old, was a ski club member in Chicago, met and bonded and decided to invite newly formed African American ski clubs from around the country to come to Aspen for a weekend ski trip. Once that weekend came to fruition, The National Brotherhood of Skiers had arrived.
The National Brotherhood of Skiers is the largest ski and snowboarding club in the United States. The NBS now has over 50 chapters since it started in 1973. Even now, the two men still venture out to the slopes to enjoy their pastime of skiing. The first-ever Black Summit or “gathering,” as it was called back then, took place back in 1973.
“At the time nobody knew how to ski but, we knew how to have fun,” Clay told Kivi Boise. “There will never be as many black folks on the ski slopes as white folks, but we are coming.”
“It’s like entering the palace of the gods when you can be on the wall with Billy Kidd, Dave McCoy and the Badami family that is a wonderful experience,” Finley says of the upcoming induction.
Initially, the induction ceremony for the very first African American people to be enshrined for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame was to take place this past weekend, on March 28 in Sun Valley, Idaho. The ceremony has been pushed back due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, with the ceremony now scheduled to take place from Dec. 9 through Dec. 13.
According to its website, “Their nearly 50-year vision has created tens of thousands of snow sports enthusiasts, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue across the winter sports industry. The NBS’ annual gathering is one of the largest ski events in America.”