Women & Skiing

In recent years ski courses have sprung up for ‘ladies only’.  I remember teaching in Whistler, Canada BC, over 15 years ago and there were several female ski teachers advertising weekend courses specifically for ladies.  It seemed, to me, a great idea, not specifically something that someone would wish to do long term but an ideal ‘dip in, dip out’ session, gender related, that works.

So, what’s different?

Well, perhaps one of the biggest differences is that often families and friends take to skiing and like all sport, everyone is at a different level, physically and psychologically.

Ski schools may be part of our first encounters to get us up and running and then these are ditched and groups of skiers work their way around the mountain. Already between our colleagues, family friends, there are differences occurring, like all sports but perhaps more relevant quicker. For example; how we tackle a slope, what speed we travel at, whether we are in control, whether this bothers us if we are in control or not ! It is often said that at these earlier stages, men use ‘brut force and strength’ to implement technique, work out what they need to do to stop or negotiate specifics on the mountain, whereas women want to be in control, they want to be able to stop when they need to and they want to understand and learn what they need to do to help them.

It’s not just physical!

Women are often technically better skiers because they do not always rely completely on strength and muscle power when skiing.  I hear this said a lot and if you were to stand on a slope and watch the skiers going past, you would probably recognise this fairly quickly.  However, everyone learns at different speeds, and all so often SPEED is not something that ladies enjoy the thrill of, quite so quickly, as men. Once you know what you can do to stop, once you feel more in control then speed is very important in skiing but it’s speed within our turns and not speed down the hill that is the thrill. Ladies seem to recognise this but all to often may find themselves in a situation where they are trying to keep up with someone and suddenly, momentum and speed down the hill take over. Panic buttons are hit, actions have to be taken and a tumble or too will be endured. This is, of course, part of learning for everyone, you do something wrong, you get up and you learn not to do it again, but in skiing, often you find yourself repeating the same patterns because you are unsure what the options are. Trial and error is a great way of learning but not always on a slippery slope!

So, within a ladies only session, you may find that just being in a group of your own gender helps you to learn quicker.  Gives you more confidence, allows you to travel at the speed you want and gives you the tools and techniques to practice, use and ultimately ski around the mountain enjoying it !

We often do this in so many other sports, we select a class or a sport that suits our ability, our temperament but in skiing we are thrown in to the ‘holiday zone’ and that’s why we are there, to enjoy spending some time with our families and friends. However, the trick is to concentrate on you (if you can),  spending time allowing yourself to improve will definitely pay dividend in the end. Enjoying the mountains is, for me, paramount, skiing in control, looking up and knowing you enjoyed that last run, rather than feeling the pressures of just constantly having to catch up. As ski teachers that is what we all do, whatever gender, we enjoy the ability to ski in control around the whole mountain, the skills in order to do that are far harder than seeing who reaches the restaurant first !

Sally Chapman is one of our leading female British Ski Teachers.  She has taught instructors to teach and has worked in the alps with a team of top British ski teachers for many years running her own ski business called INSPIRED TO SKI. She has produced two user friendly books and a DVD in the format of a ‘Pock’it Ski Instructor’, giving clients tools, techniques and tactics to tackle the mountain.
Email: sally@inspiredtoski.com
Web www.inspiredtoski.com.