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Ladies’ Days, Women’s Clinics Provide Escape To Freedom, Audacity

Women's Workshop OkemoSeniors, military personnel, college students, kids, Telemarkers, and yes, even Moms have their special days on snow.

Skimums at Snowbird encourages mothers to “drop the kids and hit the lifts and do something for themselves.

“Utahns are spoiled, but do we really take advantage of it? Do we give ourselves permission to enjoy this natural wonder, this beautiful terrain and this incredibly fun activity?” That’s what SkiMum founder Paula writes on her blog. Skimums (intermediate to advanced abilities) meet Wednesdays to enjoy skiing together and a break for free hot chocolate.

The idea of a Ladies Day or Women’s Camp to escape from the realities of household chores, parenting, or even the pressures sometimes experienced in skiing with family or friends is not new. Many areas sport specially priced Ladies Days — some with lessons, others with lift tickets, lunches, lessons, and/or childcare.

Here is a sampling from across North America:

Ladies’ Day Tuesdays (non-holiday) at Mt. Sunapee, N.H, means women can ski/ride and enjoy a buffet lunch for $52. At Mont Sutton (Quebec), “Divas on Skis” Thursdays (Jan. 9 to Feb. 20) offer women $25 lift tickets, optional lessons ($32), or a total program ($192) with $5 per Diva lesson donated to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.

Silver Star Ladies Day in B.C. features two-hour clinics in skiing, snowboarding, cross country, or Telemark; fashion shows; and weekly luncheons with guest speakers and door prizes. The 4- or 8-week options (session 1: Jan. 14, 21, 28; Session 2: Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25) are for all ability levels.

Fear To Audacity

Women’s 1-to-5 day specialty clinics or “camps” feature female instructors who are enthusiastic coaches. They foster a social and supportive atmosphere that boosts confidence and thus skill development. In turn, this enables women to get out of their comfort zone and try new things such as bumps, steeps, trees, powder, parks, gates, even extreme terrain.

Instructors like Mermer Blakesee, recipient of a Skiing magazine Instructor of the Year Award, note the advantage of learning to “not freeze” in an all-women’s group.

Blakesee demonstrates this by asking a group to flap arms and poles and never mind looking good as they ski easy but slick, bumpy terrain — flailing is a hard exercise for many.

But it was also a lesson in learning to trust one’s ability and not getting hung up on technique in what is perceived to be a difficult or challenging situation.

“Men flail, women freeze” is a “Mermerism” that resonates. Addressing fears provided the encouragement needed to tackle moguls on tougher terrain. Not all were advanced level skiers, but all got the message that women can face challenges without the fear that makes many freeze in their tracks.

Maria Tomaselli, director of Okemo, Vermont’s Women’s Alpine Adventures (WAA), uses Blakelee’s book In the Yikes! Zone (reprinted as "A Conversation With Fear") and available at Amazon.com as a foundation to her Fear Workshop.

Noting “fear is a four-letter word,” Tomaselli recommends that women focus on strengths, visualize success (based on past successful situations), and use positive self-talk — “I can do this,” or “Relax, smile, keep your feet moving” versus “Don’t fall!”

Her Seven Steps to Success is a powerful reminder that focusing on strengths can help women build skills and adopt an attitude of confidence and audacity.

“The goal is to take skiing and snowboarding women to the next level in any snow conditions and on any terrain. That encompasses overcoming fear and boosting confidence in a supportive and social environment,” Tomaselli states. WAA programs range from 5-days (Jan. 27-31) to 3-days (Feb 7-9) to 2-days (Jan 23-24, Feb 3-4, Feb. 13-14).

Saturdays To Steeps

Gore Mountain, N.Y. clinics (all abilities, Jan. 25-26, March 1-2) feature lift tickets, video analysis, personal feedback from coaches, indoor equipment discussions, breakfasts, lunches, and a wine and cheese party. A one-day Saturday clinic is an option.

At Snowbird (UT), Women's Camps are offered Jan. 17-20 with on-hill guest coach Carol Levine and March 3-6 with Blakeslee. The camps include lodging, lift tickets, breakfast, lunch, spa access, round-trip ground transportation, welcome reception, on-hill coaching, and video analysis. SheRide Women's Snowboard Camp is Feb. 21-24.

Many areas offer several options. Stratton Mountain, Vt. Sunday morning weekly workshops run Jan. 12 – March 23. The Green Mountain Women meet for coffee or tea and ski/ride together every Wednesday (2013-14 excluding holidays) with a new option of weekly lessons for $99.  Extras include yoga workshops, special events and demo days. Multi-day camps (all abilities) run Jan. 10-12, Feb. 11-14, and March 9-11.

Squaw Valley, California’s Women of Winter (ages 13+, intermediates to experts) Wednesday clinics (9:30 to noon) run from Jan. 8 to March 26 (Feb. 19 excepted). WOW Camps (Jan. 26-28, March 2-4) feature 3 days of skiing instruction, lunch, après events. Experts have The Next Level Women's Freeskiing Camp (Jan. 11-12) led by big-mountain skiers Ingrid Backstrom and Jessica Sobolowski-Quinn.

Alison Gannett offers Rippin Chix camps that push the envelope for women who want to do trees, steeps, powder, cliffs, and/or rocks. Gannett’s Silverton, Colo. camp (Feb. 1-2) focuses on steeps and ungroomed for the fit who can hike. Her Feb. 8-9 Intro to the Steeps at Crystal Mt., Wash. is for gals wanting to master the steeps on a slightly less rad level. Steeps and Powder Camp at Whitewater BC Feb 15-16th features Gannett teaching Alpine and backcountry with Telemark instruction by Karen Reader.  

Today, women’s programs abound — good news for any gal who wants to take fun, confidence, and skills up a notch -- moms included!

Photo: Women’s Alpine Adventures with Maria Tomaselli (Karen Lorentz)

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