An Essential Guide To Skiing With Mount Noire's Simisola Oke
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of skiing? Too difficult, too scary, not your thing? You’re not alone. We at Complex UK conducted resea
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of skiing? Too difficult? Too scary? Not your thing? Well, funnily enough, you’re not alone.
We at Complex UK, in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays, the UK’s number one ski holiday provider, conducted research into social perceptions of skiing and ski holidays amongst our audience, and the results told a fairly clear story: 70% of people couldn’t ski, and just under 60% said they’re not the type of person to hit the slopes. However, so much of what we think a ski holiday entails is based on misconception and far from the truth. Skiing is more than just a middle-class pastime—it has evolved into an inclusive winter activity far more exciting and memorable than your average holiday.
To explore this further, Complex and Crystal took Simisola Oke—founder of Mount Noire, a travel community dedicated to increasing diversity in winter sports, also a key aim for Crystal—and DJs Henrie Kuwashe and Mercedes Benson, on a ski trip to Borovets, a Crystal resort in Bulgaria.
You can read the story and watch the film we made of their trip, here.
“The trip was literally one of my favourite ski trips,” says Simi. “We did skiing and skidooing, which is very similar to being on a jet ski. It was so good! We also had some great nights out and used the spa. The whole experience was everything.” The trip showed how fun and how varied a ski holiday can be, breaking the myth that only certain people can enjoy them.
If you’re looking to ease yourself into a winter trip, then Crystal are an ideal choice to book with. They have over 100 resorts to choose from throughout Europe and North America, including a great choice of resorts for beginners. During the day, you can enjoy everything from sleigh rides and walking trails to spas and bowling—at night, it’s all about apres-ski: anything from a cocktail in a quiet lounge to a full-on disco. Not forgetting those picturesque backdrops fit for IG. There’s no need to stress about flights, transfers or accommodation either, because they are all included.
From the research we did with Crystal, we learned that a majority of people who don’t have someone in their immediate network who skis are likely to have some apprehensions about booking a ski holiday. This is where the rise and increasing visibility of networks/communities such as Mount Noire play an important role in spreading the word and bringing aspiring skiers together.
Simi first took to the slopes as a medical student on her university’s annual ski trip. “I was living with this girl who used to ski regularly, and she invited me to go,” she explains. “I was like, ‘Nope! It’s really not for me.’ But my flatmate insisted. So, me being me, I spent all of my student loan going on this trip and, to be honest, I had the best time. It was a life-changing experience. I never thought I’d be standing on two planks of wood skiing down a mountain, but I fell in love with it.”
Her newfound love of skiing had her going back for more snowy fun. However, Simi noticed a lack of diversity, which led to some uncomfortable experiences.
“I was having a great time on these ski trips, but I was very aware that I was often the only Black person on the trip,” she says. “People were normally well-intentioned, but sometimes they’d make comments like: ‘I can’t believe you’re here.’ There was another ski trip I went on, with one of my friends, and we had our Afros out. These girls came up to us and said, ‘Oh, we just love your hair’ while touching it. After that, I knew I wanted to change this.”
Simi rounded up a group of her friends to ski at Chamonix, France, and, of course, they all had a fantastic time leading to Mount Noire’s formation. “It’s not just a ski trip for us; I’m trying to bring a good vibe and energy,” she explains. “We’re trying to indoctrinate some of our cultures into the trip to have a fun time.” Her mission to bring colour to the mountains is essential as research suggests people see the sport as predominantly ‘white’, which turns them off trying it for themselves. It’s also a key priority for Crystal, which is why they have involved themselves in projects like this.
If you are thinking about booking a ski holiday for the first time then there’s a good chance you might have a few questions. Crystal have a Beginner’s page on their website which has some helpful tips and is a good place to start. Plus, we asked Simi to run through a few things we were keen to know, below.