In honor of Black History Month, we are sharing key Black figures in skiing and riding who have paved the way for a more inclusive future. This week, meet Russell Winfield – the first Black pro-snowboarder.
Dubbed the “Black American Snowboarding Godfather” or “Uncle Russ,” Winfield was drawn to snowboarding’s unique culture and has inspired countless riders to follow his tracks on the slopes. Beginning in upstate New York in the late 80s, Winfield honed his skills on the hills of a golf course before immersing himself onto the larger East Coast scene.
In the early 90s, Winfield made his mark in freestyle while on a trip to Whistler where he garnered the attention of Mack Dawg Productions – an action sports film legend – who brought his style and athletic skills to the forefront of snowboarding. From there, he defined the sport with his individuality, passion and being the life of the culture that came along with it.
Today, Winfield is sharing his perspective and voice within the industry’s diversity and inclusion discussions. In September 2020, he was on the cover of Snowboarder Magazine. He also has his own podcast, The Plug, which covers not only skiing and riding, but a variety of other topics. Winfield confessed he was “a little more punk rock and about himself,” rather than a role model back in his prime snowboarding days. But now he hopes to be a leading voice for Black community members who are interested in the sport. “'Hey man, I’ve been at the top of the mountain and this is how you get there and this is what you do,’” Winfield told Snowbound in an interview, “Whether or not they listen to me or their parents allow them to listen to me, that’s fine. I’ve said my piece. I’ve done my part.”