For years, it was believed that Black people held domain over two very specific things: sports and entertainment. Sure, we excel in so many fields but to the world, we were born to either sing, dance, run a pigskin or bear a wicked jumpshot.
Even when we started to splash across the sports spectrum, competing where the contenders were mainly lily white, Black folks scored the biggest trophies and broke the most records (see: Venus and Serena Williams). They thought we were only good for flinging a ball or jumping hurdles, but despite some resistance, we own tennis now. These days, more and more athletes of African descent are training in winter sports, from speed skating to bobsleighing.
It’s taken a while for us to make our mark but only because many of us aren’t born into environmental (or financial) circumstances where hightailing it on a pair of skis is a thing. But what the world should consider is that, when we get ahold of what we can do on ice, we’ll run that too. Black people have been running sports like soccer and track and field for eons, just wait and see what we do with curling and ice hockey. Here are seven Black winter sports medalists who’ve already begun breaking the mold.
Vonetta Flowers (USA), bobsleigh, gold in 2002
Vonetta Flowers tweaked just a couple of things careerwise and found her groove. She started off in track and field while attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham and she was a star on campus, which made her consider going for the Summer Olympics. But life had other plans. She wasn’t quite ready to compete on dry land, so she gave it a shot on ice and found that she took to it right away. Soon after, Flowers signed on to become the brakewoman for the U.S. bobsledding team in the 2004 Winter Olympics. She was the first black woman to win a gold medal in the Winter Games.