(Featured image credit: Jason Hummel, 2019)
Everyone can enjoy the outdoors, no matter a person’s background. The Ikon Pass and SheJumps have partnered together to spread that message. They want to introduce more women to the mountains through the Snowpack Scholarship program. For the 20/21 winter season, there were 10 BIPOC women selected as the Ikon Pass Scholarship winners. They received a complimentary Ikon Base Pass to help them get out on the mountain and get a transformational experience.
We’d like to introduce you to these incredible individuals as they share their stories and why they’re excited to use their passes this winter.
Alenka | Dioné | Elizabeth | Elvina | Janelle | Ranah | Stephanie | Vania | Miki | Diana
From: Illinois | Instagram: @alenkacoral_
Bio: Alenka is a Chicago native, who loves being outdoors almost as much as she loves her Wheaten Terrier, Burton. She enjoys road trips to the mountains, quality coffee and a good book. When she’s not baking, she can be found planning her next adventure.
What the scholarship means: “I am ecstatic for this scholarship because it gives me the opportunity to ski new places and help continue advancing my skills. I hope to inspire my friends and family to try this amazing sport that gives back in so many ways.”
From: Utah | Instagram: @dioneecr
Bio: Dioné was born and raised in Toluca, Mexico. She is currently a student at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT, where she will be graduating with a BFA in Graphic Design. She and her sister grew up spending their weekends and summers at their grandma’s house in a small village 40 minutes outside of Toluca. There they did everything from mushroom picking, climbing trees or just running and playing outside in the fields. From that young age, Dioné’s mom gave her that love for the outdoors. When she moved to Utah 10 years ago, she was fascinated by the mountains and the great biodiversity Utah offers. That same year was the very first time she had seen snow. As the years passed, her love for the outdoors grew more and more, whether it be hiking, biking, camping, or climbing. Whenever she has an opportunity to learn new things, she takes the chance. The hardest thing for her has been skiing. She was able to try it a while back and loved it. Unfortunately, the price for gear and passes has prevented her from learning more and improving. She knows many other POC are in the same situation creating a great divide in the outdoor industry.
What the scholarship means: “I am extremely excited and grateful to have received the IKON SnowPack scholarship. I will be able to improve my skiing and grow more confident in the sport, but also I’ll be one of the many POC women that will be changing the diversity in winter sports. I hope to be able to show people that we should be given every opportunity despite the different color of our skin, background, or financial situation. The outdoors are for everyone. I also hope to show other POC that we belong outside just like everyone else and to not be scared to pursue things you enjoy. I hope to give confidence to other women that may also feel intimidated in an industry where a grand majority is male. I hope that along with the other women that received this scholarship we can bring attention to the imbalance and make the outdoors more accessible regardless your race, gender, or your identity.”
From: Indiana | Instagram: @eliz_sahagun
Bio: Liz (she/her) is a Mexican American woman, neuroscience graduate student, and an aspiring alpinist. Her parents settled down in Northern California after immigrating from Mexico, and that’s where she was born and raised. She now lives in the Midwest for graduate school and is traveling to mountain states this winter for ice climbing and skiing. She hopes to move closer to mountains once she completes her PhD.
What the scholarship means: “I am excited to get this scholarship because it offers me the opportunity to finally learn to ski. Growing up near Tahoe, I grew up thinking skiing was only for wealthy white people and always had a fear that I’d never belong. I’m excited to push past that fear, join the community, and work on making the sport more accessible to more people like me. I plan to use the pass to connect with more underrepresented people so we can build a stronger community. I hope to eventually become a backcountry skier so I can be a more well-rounded mountaineer.”
From: New York | Instagram: @elvinascott
Bio: Identifying as a BIPOC woman, Elvina is a loving mother to two BIPOC* daughters, Colby Rose, a 15-year-old, and 13-year-old Coral Lily. Their family life has been deeply impacted by Colby’s neurodiversity.
Colby has multiple and severe disabilities. She has intractable epilepsy and has had life-threatening seizures since she was 6 months old. These are ongoing despite brain surgery and medication. Because of this, Colby requires full support for all aspects of daily living, including bathing and dressing, using the restroom, and eating. Nonverbal yet highly communicative, Colby shares almost no linear or literal communication. Elvina and her husband care for her full time.
To “cope” with these added life pressures, Elvina developed an unsustainable reliance on alcohol to manage her stress levels and chronic sleep deprivation. This led to a disability leave from work during a Major Depressive Episode about 5 years ago. In response, Elvina started running and skiing. Getting back into nature and using her body in high-exertion activities effectively saved her life.
Today, Elvina frequently runs ultras and seeks to emphasize outdoor time with her entire family. Colby has a gigantic buggy and can be wrapped in a comforter when taken onto the snow. In the summer, Colby loves to paddleboard. Her family has devised an entire setup where she can be taken out for laps and paddles.
What the scholarship means: “The opportunity of this Ikon Pass is something I do not have the means to provide for myself, or Coral. I come into this opportunity as a woman, and as a mother and advocate. We are a BIPOC family. We live well below the poverty line within the system of how the US treats and ‘supports’ people with disabilities. We have a child with disabilities and are relentless advocates of anti-Ableism.”
An often overlooked or non-existent story that Elvina would like to share with the Ikon Pass community is how her stoke directly affects my kids, particularly Colby. Just as Coral and Elvina can experience physical activities together, they can also share a similar physical stoke. And while Colby has a body that cannot experience a trail run or a morning of corduroy or hike in the backcountry, when Elvina returns home from one of these adventures, there’s an obvious, deep and visceral response shared by Colby.
Elvina is hugely excited about the Ikon Pass. It will motivate and enable her to access slopes throughout New England not previously explored due to financial constraints. Elvina’s end goal is to set a good example for her kids by feeding passions instead of focusing on consumption and status. Supporting this belief, Elvina hopes to be an example for other parents in a similarly overwhelming, physically demanding, and socially isolating experience. Her message is simple: prioritize physical health and stoke, and remember how good it is for your kids when you do.
(Currently, Elvina is in the process of determining how to state/acknowledge that in the white world, her girls are “white-passing.” It is usually only other BIPOCS that recognize their ethnicities, or when either daughter is out with their dad, who is more obviously BIPOC.)
From: Colorado | Instagram: @janelle_takesphotos
Bio: Janelle Paciencia is a child welfare social caseworker, social justice advocate, photographer, NextGen Trail Leader for the American Hiking Society, and Outings Leader for Latino Outdoors. In order to encourage other BIPOC community members to access nature for better mental health and physical wellbeing, Janelle champions the idea that ‘Representation Matters’ through her photography and advocacy work in Washington, DC and in Colorado where she lives.
What the scholarship means: “I am thrilled that SheJumps in collaboration with Ikon Pass have selected me as a recipient of their Snowpack Ikon Pass scholarship because for so long snowsports have been inaccessible to me due to financial barriers. As a Latinx and indigenous woman, I hope to add to the growing community of strong, resilient women of color who are showing up on the slopes to represent what we are capable of and shift the narrative of who belongs in these outdoor spaces.”
From: New Mexico | Instagram: @ranahby
Bio: Ranah is a snowboarder from New Mexico. Growing up in a biracial household and navigating post-9/11 America as a Muslim girl, she learned a great deal about not fitting in. She never felt truly at peace until she started snowboarding in college. Snowboarding has given her many things: confidence, adventure, balance, mental clarity, and so much more. After graduate school on the East coast, she returned home to New Mexico—she couldn’t be away from the majestic West for too long. Now she spends her days teaching high school history and geography, and she loves it! She is a passionate educator, promotor of civic engagement, and lover of all things mountainous.
What the scholarship means: “I am so humbled to have been given this amazing chance to experience the most iconic ski resorts in the world. I can’t wait to see the beautiful landscapes, the jagged peaks, and the incredible views. I look forward to sharing my experiences with my students and encouraging them to travel this amazing planet and experience as much of it as they can. I hope to visit as many Ikon Pass destinations as possible and look forward to sharing my adventures along the way!”
From: Massachusetts | Instagram: @stephanieaigbe
Bio: When she’s not staring deeply into a stranger’s eyes as a resident eye doctor, you can find Stephanie on the slopes, trails, or at her local Taco Bell.
What the scholarship means: “I am both honored and excited to be receiving the SheJumps scholarship this year. Here’s to a season of growth and stepping out of my comfort zone!”
From: Oregon | Instagram: @vania.pix
Bio: Vania is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara and currently resides in Eugene, Oregon. Academically, they’re interested in network science, computer science, public health, and diseases of global health importance. Outside of the dusty confines of their books and computers, Vania enjoys climbing (bouldering, trad, sport climbing), training for climbing, and fermentation.
What the scholarship means: Having no prior experience in traversing snowy and icy terrain, Vania hopes to fully utilize the Ikon Ski Pass to explore the snowy slopes of the North Cascades. They hope to eventually build the skill set to become proficient in moving safely across mixed terrain.
From: Washington | Instagram: @miki.kaneshiro
Bio: Miki works for a black-led grassroots organization, CHOOSE 180, that works to end youth incarceration in King County, Washington. She always wanted more time on the mountain. In high school, she bought her first used snowboard and paid her way a few times a year. Today it’s the same, and she wants even more time on the mountain.
What the scholarship means: “With an Ikon Pass, I’m ready to go as much as possible! My favorite thing is when you stop overthinking, find your flow, and everything becomes easy. Sometimes it takes me a minute, but last year I tried riding in powder for the first time!! SO GREAT!”
From: Utah | Instagram:@dianazuniga132
Bio: Diana participated in the SheJumps Into the Canyon program several years ago and learned how to ski at the age of 17. Now, at the age of 24 and a new mother, she is applying for her United States residency. Becoming a U.S. resident will help her family out tremendously by opening doors of opportunity.
What the scholarship means: “If I could go through this stressful time one turn at a time and then another it will make it just that much easier. With the Ikon Pass, I’m excited to return to skiing this season.“