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New Gay Ski Group Hits the Slopes

When Dana Clark settled in Salt Lake City last year, he expected to find a gay ski group in the state claiming to have the Greatest Snow on Earth. He searched high and low, but by the time the great snow covered the mountains, the former Vermont resident hadn’t found one.

His solution? Start his own group.

Ski Out Utah“When I couldn’t find a group at the Pride Center, I decided to see what I could do about it,” he said.

The following summer, Clark discussed forming a gay ski group with friends from the Lambda Hiking Club who also wanted to hit the slopes after the hiking season’s end. In October, Ski Out Utah, their brainchild, was born.

“I had such a great time with them at the hiking club, that it’s nice to have a ski group for the winter,” said Clark.

Along with the hiking club, the group also shares some members with the Queer Utah Aquatic Club, who hold an annual Ski and Swim event over President’s Day Weekend.

Although Clark and the other Ski Out Utah leaders are still planning their events for the 2007-2008 ski season (typically Dec.-March each year), they already have a tentative weekly schedule, including a skiing and snow boarding on Sundays and Wednesdays, cross country skiing on the second Saturday of each month, and snowshoeing on the fourth Saturday. They also hope to include ice skating and potlucks on their list of events. A meet and greet with a Los Angeles-based gay ski group has also been planned for Jan. 10 at Kristauf’s Martini Bar in Park City (825 South Main Street, under the stairwell).

“But we don’t want to burn ourselves out,” Clark said.

People who have never strapped on skis needn’t worry about burning themselves out on the slopes trying to keep up with more advanced skiers. Although Ski Out Utah boasts a litany of experienced skiers and professional skiing instructors, Clark stressed that skiers of all skill levels are encouraged to join them this winter, particularly beginning skiers. As an added incentive, Clark said the group hopes to devote one weekend each month to a beginner-level class.

“We’re hoping that members of each skill level can get a big enough group to hang out with each other,” he said.

Although the group has a gay-centric name, Clark encouraged people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to become Ski Out Utah members. He added that he would especially like to see more women join up, to balance out the group’s now-mostly male membership.

“I think it’d be fun for this to be the 'in' ski club in the state,” he said.

Eventually, organizers also hope to hold a weekend event in Park City for members of gay ski groups from all over the country.

“But that’s looking towards the future,” said Clark. “The goal for now is to hang out, make new friends, and improve our skiing while having fun. Now, if only the snow would fall!”

For more information and for regular updates visit Ski Out Utah’s Web site at skioututah.com. The group also maintains a Yahoo group at groups.yahoo.com/group/skioututah/.

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