By Rachel Walker
The last time I took a women-specific ski clinic, I morphed into a gorilla swaying on the edge of a snowy cliff with a bottle of wine in each hand, a toothpick poking from my belly button to my ski pants, and thong underwear that’s absolutely essential to slaying the steep slope below me.
It was two years ago, a stunningly bright day following a massive storm at Silverton Mountain, and I was following the lead of Alison Gannett, former pro-skier and brainchild behind Rippin’ Chix Camps.
The slope peeled away at a steady 40-degree pitch, and I was determined to ski it aggressively and gracefully without stopping. Never mind that I had young children at home (three and one-year-old sons) or that I was still getting my ski legs under me even though it was mid-February. Forget the fact that I’d been treading water at my ability level—able to get down anything but not really able to enjoy getting down anything—in years. This was my winter, and damned if I wasn’t going to progress.
Allison’s advice—plant the pole and pour the wine—got me to reach my hands down the hill and not pull them back. I assumed my athletic position gorilla stance, imagined that toothpick poking my belly if I slouched or pooched my stomach, “pinched the thong” to engage my pelvic floor and pushed off.
And then I crushed it. I skied that chute with the confidence of a seasoned expert, not the trepidation of an aspiring one. At the end of the slope, I gazed up to the gaggle of women cheering me on and realized they had pushed me harder and further than any man. What a revelation.
For years I avoided anything segregated by sex, telling myself I preferred to hang with the boys, who skied and biked harder and whom I wanted to emulate. I was loath to join the “You go girl!” tribe of chicks. But, then again, I eventually grew tired of bro-ing down.
Thank goodness for that.
Surprisingly, it was in the all-women’s environment where I felt supremely challenged. Better yet, I had the quirkiest tools at my disposal to rise to that challenge and a group of really fun, really interesting women to cheer me on. Likewise, when it was their turn, I whooped and hollered and celebrated their accomplishments as though they were my own.
So ladies, if you’re thinking of a women-specific clinic this year or next, I urge you not to hesitate. It might just be the thing that unlocks your potential.
Here are a few to consider:
Designed for women by women, this mid-winter workshop (there are generally two; the next will be in 2017) offers instruction for all levels as well as a unique mix of off-snow events.
Emphasizing camaraderie and improving individual skills, this camp ensures small groups (max. five students per group), world-class female instructors, motivational speaking, and First Tracks on select camp days.
This multi-week lesson program offers a range of options—from telemark to snowboard instruction—for women only. There is also a Nordic option.
Rachel Walker loves her girlfriends. She writes and lives in Boulder, Colorado, when she’s not skiing in the mountains. Follow her on Twitter: @racheljowalker.