Coronavirus outbreak shakes up Black skiers summit

At least 10% of the National Brotherhood of Skiers’ ski summit attendees are already testing positive for the coronavirus and many more already feeling ill.

Ben Finley and Art Clay, founders of the National Brotherhood of Skiers (#NBS) (Credit: NBS)

Attendees at a weeklong event in Sun Valley are on edge after at least 10% of attendees already testing positive for the coronavirus and many more already feeling ill.

According to NBC News, this year’s National Brotherhood of Skiers’ ski summit took place on Feb. 27-March 7 in Sun Valley, Idaho. But what was meant to be a time of fellowship unexpectedly turned into a cautionary tale on the necessity of social distancing.

“It was at a time when the serious nature of coronavirus was not conveyed by the supposed leadership of the country,” said Brad Corbin who has been a faithful attendee for the last 25 years. “I’m sure it would have been canceled. But it was classified as a ‘hoax.’”

This year, Corbin missed the event for only the sixth time in over two decades which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

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National Brotherhood of Skiers

National Brotherhood of Skiers (Credit: NBS)

“It’s a fantastic event. The only reason I didn’t go is because I don’t particularly like the Sun Valley setup,” he explained. “I likely dodged a bullet. But I feel badly for those who have contracted the virus. And it’s a little unsettling to know I could have been on that list, too.”

The summit was ultimately a success. However, only days after everyone went home, NBS sent an email to over 3,000 members alerting them that attendees from Ft. Washington, Md., (one), Washington, D.C. (one), Detroit (three) and New York (one) had all tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our hearts and prayers are with everyone and every family that has encountered COVID-19, the flu, pneumonia or any other virus that is affecting our population,” read the email from summit leadership Peggie Allen and Henri Rivers.

They assured everyone that Art Cox, the organization’s safety director, was compiling a list of attendees who have tested positive.

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“We wish you a swift and speedy recovery. Please keep each other in your prayers and stay safe.”

Saturday, Allen and Mayors Peter Hendricks and Neil Bradshaw from Sun Valley and Ketchum, all issued a joint statement.

“There is no evidence as to when and how the virus first entered Sun Valley or Ketchum. Sun Valley is a ski destination which hosts national and international tourists. It had numerous visiting guests and organizations before, and during the same time the NBS members were visiting. It is virtually impossible to pinpoint a group or person who were carriers of the virus,” it read in part.

“We all love this valley and our main concern now is that everyone who has been affected in the NBS and other groups, and in all of Blaine County, recovers in better health. Know we are here to support them,” the statement said.