VAIL, Colo. – The National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) celebrated its 50th anniversary during the first week of February with a summit in Vail.
“I skied off by myself for most of my life, until I ran into the NBS. And now I have a whole lot of brothers and sisters to ski with,” said Clifton Blanchette.
More than 2,000 members from all over the country gathered in Vail to hit the slopes.
“Well, I'm from a place called Jackson's Gap, Alabama, right outside of Auburn, Alabama… been skiing for about 20 years,” said Joe Colvin.
Last year, during the NBS’s 49th summit, organization leaders said they were pleased with the organization's growth from a few hundred to thousands.
“We have about 3,500 members 54 clubs across the United States and the UK,” said Henri Rivers, president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers. “Our founders Art Clay and Ben Finley, they had the vision to put this all together.”
Art Clay still remembers the first NBS summit in Aspen.
“There weren't many of us… We had the first summit in '73. We had about 500 people there,” Clay said.
Some NBS members told Denver7 the 50th anniversary celebration brings up special memories.
“We hosted the first USAA race that allowed children to earn points towards the US Ski Team. And that was a very monumental accomplishment for the NBS, because for years, our children were racing, and they weren't earning points towards making the US Ski Team,” Blanchette said.
Lauren Maddox, who was born in Denver but now lives in New Jersey, attends the summit every year.
“(This) organization has been around for 50 years, and I really admire the minority skiers. And we just dominate the slopes when we come up,” Maddox said. “We get our kids into it. We get our partners into it. And you know, it becomes a brotherhood of skiers.”
The National Brotherhood of Skiers has chapters in Denver, including Slippers-n-Sliders and Ski Noir 5280.