Significant segments of ski culture may be anti-gay, but the sport itself is inherently egalitarian at least in its most fundamental activity of flying down a mountain on a pair of skis. So where does this discrepancy and cognitive dissonance come from? Well, follow the money.
First of all, skiing isn’t cheap. Even with online discounts for lift tickets and ski rentals, there are travel and lodging costs for everyone who doesn’t live in the immediate vicinity of a ski area. Apres-ski culture is pretty darn diverse, but still skews toward the wealthy. And so, as much personal experience and positive stories we rack up, there’s still a palpable sense that skiing is somehow still a “Boy’s Club.” You can kind of see the same thing in golf, racquetball, equestrianism, and similarly wrapped-in-affluence sports.
Secondly, the size of the skiing industry attracts some of the more cynical methods and practices of marketing strategies. All that expensive ski gear and resort passes generates a lot of marketing dollars that go toward creating a culture of cool. Along with cultural barriers to entering and staying with skiing over the long run, no doubt one of the reasons more ski celebrities haven’t come out earlier is the financial disincentive. And so, yes, when a ski celebrity comes out, it still matters.
Finally, there’s the soft, though pervasive, anti-gay attitudes that persist through crude and unfunny jokes, in-the-shadows comments, and the occasional gay slur that’s uttered by someone as they fly by you on a downhill run. Put another way, skiing culture definitely has anti-gay sentiments attached to it, but are these sentiments any stronger than they are throughout the larger culture? We’re not so sure. We also agree with the generic sentiment that things have gotten better over the years, but we’ve still a ways to go.