TheSkiDiva Wins the Harold S. Hirsch Award for Best Ski Blog!

I’m humbled. Really. But excited enough that I hope you don’t mind my bragging a bit:

The North American Snowsports Journalists Association — NASJA — has named TheSkiDiva Blog the Best Ski Blog of 2016!

hirsch-logo-2016-copyYep, I’ve been given the Harold S. Hirsch Award. Hirsch, a ski clothing pioneer and the founder of White Stag, created the award to promote professionalism in winter sports coverage.

Truly, this is a real honor. After all, I’ve been doing this for ten years, and I won’t lie: it’s nice to get a little recognition.

Back in 2006, I started this blog because I had no one to talk to about skiing. None of my friends skied, and my other friends just about rolled their eyes when I started in about my favorite sport. So to save my social life — and my sanity — I thought I’d create a place on the web where I could go on…and on…and on (619 blog posts so far) about anything and everything ski related. Over the years, I’ve tried to cover topics that I thought would be of interest to women who share my passion.  I’ve done gear and resort reviews, interviewed all sorts of ski luminaries — from Suzy Chaffee  to Donna Weinbrecht and Lynsey Dyer to Elyse Saugsted and Crystal Wright, and written how-to’s on everything from surviving the White Ribbon of Death to buying used skis to taking care of your skiwear.  I’ve even kept things going during the off season with pieces on fitness, travel, outdoor activities, nutrition, weather, and more. Want to know what to do when you encounter wildlife on the trail? How to work out in the heat? It’s in the blog. And yeah, there’s been a measure of feminism thrown in too, because I think women skiers should be given the same opportunities and respect as men, and not treated as beginners, ignoramuses, or pretty little ladies who are there simply to decorate the lodge.

Here are some of the nice comments from the judging panel:

Ski Diva isn’t just a blog, it’s a movement and a community platform. The writing is thoughtful and infused with passion, but technically strong. Smooth, easy to read style of writing. Writes with a vigorous personal voice layered with humor, pragmatism and personal connection. Well written travelogue, expressive writing style that enables the reader to feel like they are there with the author.

Truly, I’m flattered. But as in all things, there’s always room for improvement. I mean, even though the blog’s been named best of the year, no one’s perfect. And after so many entries, it’s not always easy to come up with a topic to write about each week.

So I thought I’d open this up to you: Is there something in particular you’d like to see covered? Do you have any suggestions about what I could do to take this blog to a higher plane? And is there anything you really like or dislike about the blog? I’d love to know.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on. So thanks, NASJA, for the award. And thanks to you, too, for joining me here each week. Stay tuned. There’s lots more to come.


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What’s new in Utah for ’15-’16

utahIf you’re planning to ski Utah this winter, then I’m sure you’ll find this of interest. The coming season brings a number of new improvements to Utah’s resorts. Here are a few of the things you can expect:

Snowbird: After spending $35 million on capital improvements last season, Snowbird has rebuilt its Creekside Lodge. The lodge, in Gad Valley at Snowbird Entry 1, is currently undergoing massive reconstruction to triple the building’s square footage. The larger facility will be the base of operations for all Snowbird Mountain Ski and Snowboard School lessons, eliminating shuttling students from the Tram Plaza and allowing for a lot more time skiing and snowboarding on the mountain. A new 500-foot conveyor lift will help skiers and riders get from the new Creekside Lodge to Snowbird’s Baby Thunder lift at the far western edge of the resort.

Snowbird is also replacing its 40-year old tram cables, and installing a fiber optic line into the cable, as well. The line will boost the resort’s online webcams to high definition and speed up the free Wi-Fi in the resort’s new Summit Lodge atop the tram. Finally, Snowbird is completing the remodel of the Cliff Lodge, its flagship slopeside lodging property, for the 2016-17 season.

Powder Mountain Resort:  Powder Mountain is adding two new lifts accessing Mary’s Bowl and Lefty’s Canyon, both previously accessible only by snowcat. These lifts will expand Powder Mountain’s skiable terrain to 1,000 acres.

Sundance Resort: Sundance is installing a new Arrowhead Lift to replace an aging triple chair on the mountain. The new lift will be a quad with new safety bars and improved loading and unloading areas. It willincrease uphill capacity by over 500 people per hour and assist in decreasing lift lines.

Cherry Peak: In its second year of operation, Cherry Peak is continuing to expand by adding a third lift. The new Summit Lift nearly doubles the mountain’s skiable terrain to over 400 acres. Cherry Peak is also installing lights in this area so it can continue to offer night skiing throughout the resort.

Brian Head: The resort has built a new state-of-the-art 2,000 square foot restaurant kitchen and BBQ pit. The improvement will triple the size of the previous facilities and double Brian Head’s current capacity for serving up brisket, ribs, chicken or pork every Friday and Saturday evening.

Solitude Mountain Resort: Now in its second year owned and operated by Deer Valley, Solitude is rebuilding the Roundhouse restaurant that was destroyed by a fire after the mountain closed last spring. The building’s architecture will closely mimic that of the former structure.

Other news out of Ogden Valley is the official opening of Whisper Ridge Cat Skiing, which starts on December 26. Whisper Ridge operates on over 30,000 acres of private ski and ride terrain east of the Cache Valley hamlet of Paradise, plus on over 12,000 acres of land south of Snowbasin, and uses eight custom PistenBully snowcats for access. Whisper Ridge is offering single to multi-day cat-skiing tours and optional first descent helicopter drops.

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Focus on a Woman Entrepreneur: Sara Segall of Orsden

Companies in the ski industry that were founded by women are few and far between. Sure, there’s Title Nine and WinterWomen, retailers who specialize in women’s activewear and ski apparel.  There’s Outdoor Divas, which sells both women’s ski apparel and women-specific ski gear. And there’s Coalition Snow, the only ski company that designs and builds skis for women, by women.

The dearth of women entrepreneurs isn’t just limited to the ski industry. It’s prevalent throughout American business. According to the Kauffman Foundation, a foundation that focuses on education and entrepreurship, women tend to start businesses at roughly half the rate of men, particularly during the prime business formation years between the ages of 35 and 44 (I suspect there may be an even greater disparity in the male-dominated ski industry). There are many reasons for this. Kauffman researchers say that women entrepreneurs tend to face more significant obstacles when it comes to starting their own businesses than their male counterparts, even though they bring unique abilities to entrepreneurship, such as a more sophisticated approach to taking risks, not being overconfident, and not putting their employees at risk. 

So what,’ I hear you say. ‘Does the gender of the entrepreneur really make a difference, as long as they provide a decent product?’ Maybe not. But it doesn’t make sense, either economically or socially, to ignore the abilities, talents, and potential of a large segment of our society. What’s more — and maybe this is sexist of me — I think women have a better perspective on what other women want and need. A female-led company offers better control over meeting those needs. And as a woman, I think that’s a meaningful benefit.


Sara Segall

Recently, I received an email from Sara Segall, founder of a small new ski apparel company called Orsden. Since I don’t hear too often about women-initiated start-ups, I thought I’d give her a call to see what it’s like to get a new company off the ground.

SD: So tell me about yourself. How’d you get started?
SS: I began working in politics in DC and discovered it wasn’t my passion, so I ended up going to business school at Columbia. While I was there, I worked at a luxury retail firm and in brand management for Revlon. I knew I wanted to go into retail and start my own venture, but I didn’t know exactly what my product would be. About a year after graduating, I was shopping for a new ski jacket at Stratton, and I couldn’t get over the high prices. It seemed like every jacket I liked — that I thought was flattering and stylish and also high performance — was at least $600, maybe $1,000-plus.  So I thought there was a real opportunity here.

SD: What makes your company different from other ski apparel companies?
SS: I’d seen the direct consumer model work in other places, so I thought I’d try it with Orsden. This is a unique model for the ski industry. We can offer an amazing high performance product at amazing prices by skipping out on the wholesale model and selling directly to the consumer.

I also think our products are a great marriage of style and performance. This isn’t easy to achieve. I had a pretty clear sense of what I wanted our jacket to look like. I didn’t want a women’s version of a men’s jacket — I wanted something that was  sleek, feminine, and tailored to look a little unique while offering the performance skiers want. It was a challenge to develop, but I’m pleased with the result.

SD: So tell me, why do you think there aren’t more women doing the same sort of thing you are in the ski industry? Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs?
SS: I wonder about this myself. So much of the messaging in the outdoor industry is geared toward men; women are often overlooked. This is a shame, because there’s a huge opportunity here on both parts of the spectrum: women as customers and as entrepreneurs. Women have unique needs and perspectives. A huge reason I went ahead with Orsden is because I couldn’t find a ski jacket I liked, so I hope that a lot of other women take that risk if they have a great idea and try to make something better and design by women for women. I try to show women on the home page of my company’s web site. And our big email announcement of our launch shows a woman, as well. I’m trying to to show that there are women doing awesome, extreme things, just as there are men, and I’m hoping to make that more of a centerpoint of the brand. My husband’s aunt is Gretchen Besser, who’s in the National Ski Patrol Hall of Fame. She’s 87 years old and she still skis. We’re inspired by her example.




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A Peek at the Women in Snowsports Exhibit at the US Ski Hall of Fame

Plan to be passing through Ishpeming, Michigan, soon?

US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame

US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame

In case you didn’t know, that’s the location of the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Yeah, I agree; the Upper Peninsula of Michigan seems an unlikely spot to me, too. You’d imagine the Hall of Fame would be someplace like Aspen or Vail. Or even Stowe, Vermont. But once you learn the reason, you can understand why it’s there: Over a century ago, a group of local businessmen and ski enthusiasts founded the National Skiing Association, thus earning the city the distinction of being the birthplace of organized skiing in the US.

The Hall of Fame Museum has been around since 1956, showcasing not only the members of the US Ski Hall of Fame, but memorabilia of particular interest to skiers.

Now it’s home to something else, too: the first-ever exhibit featuring Women in Snowsports.

I wrote about the dearth of women Hall of Famer’s a few months ago (you can read the entire post here). In a nutshell, there aren’t nearly enough. Out of 410 inductees, there are only 60 women. Yes, you read that right. Sixty. That’s 15%.

There are a lot of reasons why, which you can read about in the post. But instead of getting sidetracked, let’s focus on the positive: The exhibit.

One of the primary movers behind it is Jeannie Thoren — yes, she of the famed Thoren Theory, which introduced a revolutionary concept to skiing: Women are not small men, and may actually have different requirements for ski gear. So she’s pretty inspiring. And yes, she’s a  2014 Hall of Fame inductee.

I recently asked Jeannie about the Women in Snowsports exhibit at the museum.

SD: How did this exhibit come about? What was the impetus behind it? 
JT: Women have always been virtually invisible in skiing.  The exhibit is a way to recognize and put a spotlight on women who have achieved at the highest level. Hopefully, it’ll be inspirational to all visitors, but especially to young girls and their mothers.  I want them to start dreaming big.

I was inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame last September. The organization was in the midst of hiring Justin Koski, an Ishpeming native, to take over the position of Executive Director. During the course of the weekend, I told him of my longtime idea to get all the women members gathered in one section of the museum. There are a smaller number of women members, and I wanted to unite them so they’d be a real presence. He was enthusiastic in his support.

My grandparents were born outside of Ishpeming. The first place I ever skied was in Ishpeming. I have been going to the museum, starting with the older location, since I was kid. Later, in the present building, I never miss a chance to stop in and look around. I’m sure my idea was well received because I am a “local” and have known management for as long as I can remember.

Being inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame was my lifetime goal. I started out in Ishpeming, and after traveling all over the world for skiing, I was finally back home. Assembling this Women in Snowsports exhibit is my way of giving back to the skiing community where it all began for me.

SD: So what does the exhibit include?
JT: To get the ball rolling, the items were decided between the outgoing Executive Director, Tom West, the new Executive Director, Justin Koski, and myself. There is also a Display Committee and a Board of Directors, who have final say on what goes in and what isn’t appropriate. I guess in a way I’m the curator from a distance, but all the credit goes to Ann Schroeder, the Ski Hall’s Secretary. She has the task of making sure everything is labeled and documented.

The cornerstone of the exhibit is a mock-up of Jeannie Thoren’s Women Ski Center. This was the first exclusively women’s ski equipment shop anywhere in the world. It lives on today as Outdoor Divas in Lionshead, Vail.


On top is the copper sign I had over my Women’s Ski Center in Lionshead at Vail. The black shadow box contains a signed pair of the Dynastar Exclusive Carves. They were named SKI Magazine’s Ski of the Year in 2007, when I was Dynastar’s Women’s Category Manager. Below that is the framed SKI Magazine article outlining the features which made this truly a winning women’s specific ski. And below that is a fun explanation of the Thoren Theory, outlining some of my on-snow experiences doing clinics from Lake Placid to Mt. Bachelor. All this is flanked by my two latest, state-of-the-art skis which are currently on the market [ed. note: these are custom made by SkiLogik]. The Edelweiss, the stiffer of the two, is on the left, and the friendlier Snowflake is on the right.

Next to it is a ski rack with a pair of my Blizzard Women’s Test L skis, and the end result, the first women’s specific ski, Blizzard’s Fame, with documentation on the project.


Yes, that’s Jeannie Thoren.

It’s a shared space with existing exhibits that have been there for years and can’t be moved.  There’s a gondola, three lift chairs, a T-bar, and so on.  There’s also a large platform with mannequins dressed for skiing in styles representing the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  And there’s also a  large life-sized photo booth of a skier jumping off a cliff; this is Genia Fuller, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee.  You just put your head in the hole provided to be the skier.


SD: Is this now a permanent part of the museum? How often will it be updated?
JT: Yes, it’s permanent and will be updated on an ongoing basis. It will never be done. Right now it’s a diamond in the rough, but we’re making progress. My ongoing job is to contact women in the Hall of Fame to see if they have memorabilia they can send us. I have a couple of women I’m working with at present.


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The Jackson Hole Babe Force: Strong. Sexy. Soulful.

Chances are you’ve heard of the Jackson Hole Air Force, a group of avid powder skiers formed in the early ’80’s famous for hard skiing, hard partying, and poaching gnarly out-of-bounds terrain. It was a group that Crystal Wright, two-time Freestyle world champion and Jackson native, had looked up to her whole life. Problem was, it was an all boy’s club. So Crystal did what any self-respecting Ski Diva would do: in 2012, she took matters into her own hands and started the Jackson Hole Babe Force.

Espousing the motto Strong, Sexy, Soulful, the Babe Force has a mission I can totally get behind:

“To encourage female skiers and snowboarders to push your limits, gain confidence, and support each other, all while building relationships with other like-minded women who are down to get buck wild in the mountains.”

I spoke to Crystal from her home in Jackson a few days ago, where she was helping her mom recover from ankle surgery.

Crystal Wright

Crystal Wright

SD: So how’d the Babe Force get started?
CW: I grew up in Jackson admiring the Air Force, but there were never any girls in it. There were some token females — my mom, for example, and Emily Coombs, Doug Coombs’ wife — but they were never really included, and they were all super-inspiring to my generation. As I got older, I realized that there are a lot of women in Jackson who are pushing themselves and excelling, and I thought, well, the guys have their club, we should a club for girls, too!

When my friend, Sarah Felton, and I first came up with the Babe Force, we thought it was pretty funny.  But the more we thought about it, the better it sounded. We worked at a restaurant in Jackson, and during slow times, we’d work on coming up with our mission and what we wanted to do.

SD: So what’s the idea behind the Babe Force?
CW: Basically, we wanted a group where women could learn from one another, build confidence, make friends, and find new ski partners. It’s a way to get out on the mountain, hear stories from one another, and make new friends. I have a gym here in Jackson, and I see so many young girls or women who’re training and who only ski with their boyfriends or brothers. Skiing with other women is motivating and empowering. I remember I was nervous all the time when I skied with just guys. When I ski with the girls, it’s a different feeling.

My big thing is getting women to push themselves out of their comfort zone, but in a safe manner. It comes down to the if she can do it, maybe I can do it mentality. Women tend to push themselves more with other women than they do with a bunch of guys. When we have ski days, or when I teach at a camp, there are women who say, ‘I would never do this with my husband!’ It’s fun to get that dynamic going.

The Babe Force is open to women of all different abilities and demographics – from young girls all the way through 80-year old women. We mentor the young girls, and we challenge the older women. We want to get everyone involved.

SD: How do you go about doing this?
CW: Our goal is to have an event each month. On our first ski day, about 50 people turned out, which was a real shock! To be honest, it was a little overwhelming. So we’re planning on developing activities to make things a bit more manageable, like scavenger hunts on the mountain, where you have to partner with 3 people you don’t know and find things all over the resort. We’re also planning “Queen of the King” at our local hill, “Snow King.” We go night skiing, and you try to make as many runs as you can to become Queen of the King.

One of the things we want to focus on is building our scholarship program. Last year we offered our first Avalanche scholarships to help women take their Level 1 Avalanche Training. We had our first fundraiser in May, and raised $8,000, so we’re going to be able to offer a lot more scholarships this year. We also plan to partner with the Doug Coombs Foundation to donate our time with the kids. And we’re going to partner with Search and Rescue for talks about how to deal with getting caught out in the backcountry.

It’s not always skiing. We do other fun stuff, too. Tomorrow we’re going to do a hike. And last year we had a Halloween party. It’s ways to have fun and build relationships, on and off the mountain.

jhbfpatchSD: The Jackson Hole Air Force has a very famous patch, and I see you have one, too. Can you tell me about it?
CW: Sure. These are only given out for special reasons. They can be earned one of three ways: Facing your fears, Progression Session, and Inspiring Epic Adventure. So they’re for things like skiing off the tram for the first time or doing a super chute or going in the backcountry for the first time. Eventually we want to get a nomination process going, so you’d nominate a friend who’s gone above and beyond or who’s really inspired you. I had a lady write me from Finland about her friend and why she wanted to give her a patch, so I sent a patch to Finland!

SD: Do you have any plans to go beyond Jackson Hole?
CW: We’re not totally committed to local; we’d like to inspire ladies all around. What I’d love to do is have chapters all over the place, like an Alta Babe Force chapter. So no matter where a woman was, there’d be a local chapter where they could find a ski partner. For right now, we’re keeping it local.

Members of the Babe Force having fun!

Members of the Babe Force having fun!




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Ski Swaps, ’16 -’17

We all know that ski gear ain’t cheap. If you have to have the latest and greatest, then sure, there’s no denying that’s true. But there are definitely ways to save, and one of the best is buying second-hand at ski swaps. Swaps are a great way to enjoy new-to-you gear without doing too much damage to your wallet.


You can find ski swaps just about everywhere: ski resorts, ski clubs, high schools, and colleges. Swap season usually starts in the fall, so keep your eyes open; chances are there’s one near you.

To make your search a bit easier, here’s a list of some of the swaps you’ll find in the months ahead:


Sept 30: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Kingston, NY

Sept 30-Oct 2: Pico Ski Swap, Pico Mountain, VT

Oct 6-10: Wachusett Mountain Ski & Snowboard Swap, Wachusett, MA

Oct 8-10: Ski Butternut Ski Swap, Great Barrington, MA

Oct 8-10: BBTS Ski Swap, Waterville Valley, NH

Oct 9-11: Killington Ski Club Ski Swap, Killington, VT

Oct. 18-19: Bousquet Mountain, Bousquet Lodge, Pittsfield, MA

Oct 28-30: Greek Peak Ski Club Ski Swap, Cortland, NY

Nov 4: Sundown Ski Patrol Ski Swap, New Hartford, CT

Nov 5: Gunstock Ski Club Swap, Gilford, NH

Nov 6: Pat’s Peak Ski Team Ski & Snowboard Sale, Henniker, NH

Nov 6: Brunswick Ski Swap, Brunswick, ME

Nov 15-19: Ski Haus Ski Swap, Brewster, NY

Nov 18-19: OMS Ski Swap & Sale, Okemo Mountain, Ludlow, VT

Nov 21-22: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale, Jeffersonville, VT


Oct 1-2 & 8-9: Mt. Pleasant Ski Swap, Cambridge Springs, PA

Oct 7-10: Alpina Ski Swap, White Haven, PA

Oct 10-15: Buckman’s Tent & Ski Swap, All stores, PA

Nov 5: Ski Roundtop Mega Sale, Lewisberry, PA

Nov 25: Wintergreen Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Wintergreen, WV


Sept 23-25: Buck Hills Ski Swap, Burnsville, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Welch Village Fall Ski Swap & Sale, Welch, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Granite Peak Ski Swap, Wausau, WI

Oct 1: Harbor Springs Ski Team Ski Swap, Nub’s Nob, MI

Oct 1: Skitoberfest, Boyne Mtn Resort, MI

Oct. 1-2: Wild Mountain Open House & Swap, Wild Mountain, MN

Oct 2-11: Afton Alps Ski Swap, Hastings, MN

Oct 10-16: Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Peninsula, OH

Oct 14-15: Mt Kato Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Lake Crystal, MN

Oct 21-22: Giants Ridge Ski Swap, Biwabik, MN

Oct 28-30: Team Duluth Ski Swap, Duluth, MN

Oct 29: Ski Swap at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI

Oct. 29: Chestnut Mountain’s Open House and Ski Swap, Galena, IL

Nov 12: Central Wisconsin Ski & Sport Swap, Stevens Point, WI


Sept 30-Oct 2: Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap, Snowbird, UT

Oct 14-15: Winter Park Ski & Snowboard Swap, Winter Park, CO

Oct 16: Sac State Ski Swap, Sacramento, CA

Oct 21-23: Vail Ski Swap, Vail, CO

Oct 21-23: Sandia Ski Patrol Ski Swap,  Albuquerque, NM

Oct 22: Jackson Hole Ski Club Swap, Jackson, WY

Oct 22-23: Marin Ski & Snowboard Swap, San Rafael, CA

Oct 24: North Tahoe Ski/Sport Swap, North Tahoe, CA

Nov 4-5, Red Lodge Ski Swap, Red Lodge, MT

Nov 5: San Ramon Valley High School Ski & Snowboard Swap, Danville, CA

Nov 5: Truckee Ski and Snowboard Swap, Truckee, CA

Nov 5-6: Bridger Foundation Ski Swap, Bozeman, MT

Nov 7: Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Durango, CO

Nov 10-12: Beaver Mountain Ski Swap, Garden City, UT

Nov 11-12: University of Nevada Ski Swap, Reno, NV

Nov 11-12 & 19-20: Helm of Sun Valley’s Ski Swap, San Mateo, CA

Nov 23: Larson’s Ski Swap, Wheat Ridge, CO

Dec 2-4: Ski Dazzle, Los Angeles, CA


Oct 12: Skyliners Winter Sports Swap, Bend, OR

Oct 22: 49° North Ski Swap, Chewelah, WA

Oct 23: Leavenworth Gear & Ski Swap, Leavenworth, WA

Oct 20-23: Corvallis Ski Swap, Coravallis, OR

Oct 27-30: Eugene Ski Swap, Eugene, OR

Oct 29-30: Mt. Spokane Ski Swap, Spokane Valley, WA

Nov 1–2: Tacoma Ski Swap, Tacoma, WA

Nov 2-6: Ski Fever & Snowboard Show’s Ski Swap, Portland, OR

Nov 4-6: Bogus Basin Ski Swap, Boise, ID

Nov 5: Lookout Pass Ski Patrol Swap, Coeur D’Alene, ID

Nov 11-12: Newport Ski Swap, Bellevue, WA

Nov 12: Schweizer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap, Sandpoint, ID

Nov 21-22: Olympia Ski Club Ski Swap, Olympia, WA


Oct 13-16: Canada’s Largest Ski & Snowboard Swap, Toronto, ON

Oct 21-23: Calgary Ski Swap and Sale, Calgary, AB

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What’s New in Vermont for ’16/’17

The beach at Chincoteague, Virginia

The beach at Chincoteague, Virginia

I’m on a beach vacation this week on Chincoteague Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (yes, the place that’s known for its wild ponies). It’s beautiful, the water’s great, the biking’s FLAT (quite different from Vermont), and I’m having a wonderful time. That said, I still can’t get my mind off the coming ski season. So when I got this information from Ski Vermont about what’s new for ’16/’17, I thought I’d share it here. Start waxing your skis, boys and girls. It’s coming, and here’s some of the new stuff Vermont skiers will find:

skimapKillington Resort
Killington Resort is bringing Alpine World Cup skiing back to the eastern US for the first time in 25 years, when the Audi FIS Ski World Cup takes place November 26-27. Giant Slalom and Slalom races will pit the best female technical alpine skiers against one another on Superstar trail, the infamous New England steep that is regularly the Eastern US’s last remaining open ski trail through late May or June. The general public is invited to view the women’s giant slalom and slalom races in a free general admission area at the base of the trail with a jumbo screen for watching the full race course, plus a weekend loaded with festivities including free live music, multiple movie premiers and additional surprises to be announced.

Magic Mountain
Magic will be under new ownership in 2016-17 as SKI MAGIC LLC purchased the area with an initial 5-year plan to invest capital into lifts and snowmaking. With a robust operating budget and new snow guns, Magic will have more snow in 2016-17, made earlier than ever before to improve the consistency and reliability of skiing on both the easier East Side and more challenging West side trails. For the first time in years, both bottom-to-top summit lifts (1,600’ vertical) will be in full operation. There will also be new daycare facility for young parents and some refurbishing to the lodge and Black Line Tavern.

Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort is opening an $80 million Adventure Center. Located at Spruce Peak and adjacent to Stowe’s new outdoor Ice Skating Rink, Stowe’s Adventure Center is home to all Stowe’s children’s programs. From daycare facilities to ski and ride programs for kids 3 and up, the new Adventure Center has significantly advanced and expanded family amenities and services at the resort. The building also includes new shops, an Indoor Climbing Center (called Stowe Rocks), and family-friendly dining.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort
After investing $5 million in snowmaking enhancements over the last four winters, Smugglers’ Notch Resort is turning its attention to the resort village’s most popular amenity for families, the FunZone. One section, designed to appeal to families with kids ages 2-10, will feature inflatables, games, and areas for imaginative play. A second area, targeted to older children and adults, will include features such as a ninja warrior-type obstacle course, laser tag, a climbing wall, column walk, slot car racing, and arcade and redemption center. A $4 million investment, the new Fun Zone is expected to open mid-winter 2016-17.

Quechee Ski Area
The Quechee Club ushers in a new experience for its members, visitors and area guests this winter season with the completion of a newly constructed Aquatic Complex and fitness club expansion.

Burke Mountain Resort
The Lodge at Burke Mountain opened its doors on September 1st. The 116-room hotel is situated mid-mountain and provides a true ski-in ski-out experience. Suites range from a standard studio to three bedroom with onsite amenities including a pub, restaurant, heated pool & hot tub, fitness center, arcade, retail and repair shop for guests to enjoy. Striking views of the Willoughby Gap and Burke Mountain can be seen from nearly every window in the Hotel.

Jay Peak Resort
Jay Peak is increasing the snowmaking capacity to its LZ and Jug Handle parks by 60%, running a new waterline up the Interstate trail, and installing 20 new guns along the Interstate. The expansion will not only allow the Jay Peak parks to open sooner, but will also allow the resort to open learning terrain at its Tramside area earlier, as well.

Okemo Mountain Resort
After several years of major snowmaking improvements totaling more than $1 million, Okemo has once again expanded its snowmaking system. 18,000 feet of new pipe will introduce snowmaking capabilities on Catnap and Suncatcher in the South Face area. A Prinoth Bison X park cat, equipped with a Caterpillar 400 horsepower, tier 4 engine that meets all federal emission standards, is the newest addition to Okemo’s fleet of grooming machines as Okemo enters its third year of partnership with Snowpark Technologies. Rental equipment upgrades include 515 Volkl skis, 153 Burton snowboards and more than 1,000 pairs of boots. Also, Okemo has joined the MAX Pass family of resorts this year. Okemo season passholders can take their pass on the road – up to 30 mountains with an Add-On upgrade.

Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton announces an addition to its slope-side Village dining fleet– Karma: an Asian fusion experience. A menu inspired by the Asian travels of Karma’s chef will debut with traditional ramen bowls and dumplings fresh-made with local ingredients, imaginative entrees and craft cocktails with a twist like vodka filtered through Herkimer diamonds for a side of positive energy.

Stratton’s snowmaking fleet gets a new computerized control system, allowing snowmakers to record real time energy use for increased snowmaking efficiency.

Mount Snow Resort
Mount Snow’s is now offering the Peak Pass, which features a total of six pass options valid at seven different mountain locations across four states in the Northeast. It’s also increasing the uphill capacity in its beginner terrain park by 50 percent, replacing its Ski Baba Lift with a 400’ SunKid conveyer called Grommet (Lift One). The resort has also spent over 1600+ hours pruning, mowing and clearing new lines through tree skiing areas in preparation for powdery runs this winter.

Suicide Six Ski Area
Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six Ski Area replaces chair #1 with a new quad chairlift that will double capacity. Leitner-Poma of America, Inc., will install the lift at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

Bolton Valley
Bolton Valley have given major upgrades to most suites and rooms at its hotel. Improvements include new carpet, drapes, furniture, painting, renovated bathrooms, new mattresses and new artwork to greatly enhance guest comfort.

Sugarbush Resort
Sugarbush has invested $750,000 into capital improvements for the 2016-17 winter season which include lift improvements and improvements to the snowmaking pond. The resort has also completed Gadd Brook Residences, sixteen ski-in/ski-out condominiums at the base of Lincoln Peak available as two-, three-, and four-bedroom units.


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Woo Hoo! TheSkiDiva Is Ten Years Old!


Amazing, huh? We’ve hit double numbers!

It hardly seems possible, but this week marks an entire decade since made its debut on the world wide web.

In internet years, that’s like a bazillion. Seriously, we’re in super-senior citizen mode. After all, the shelf life of web sites is shorter than fresh fish. A few days, just about, and many are abandoned or forgotten. So it’s pretty amazing that we’ve not only stuck around, but that we’ve continued to grow and thrive.

For me, it’s been a great ten years. I can still remember when I came up with the idea for the site. I was on line for the gondola at Steamboat when I looked behind me………. and all I could see was men.  ‘This is ridiculous,’ I thought.  ‘I can’t be the only woman who likes to ski.’ But at the time it seemed that way. I didn’t have any women ski friends. And none of the online ski communities or ski magazines really paid that much attention to women, either. We were marginalized, treated as an interesting side-line. Just an afterthought on the slopes. If you were a female skier, you couldn’t be very serious or very good. You were probably just out looking for a guy. Or maybe you just wanted to wear the latest ski fashions, take two runs, and sit in the lodge.

So I created for a couple of reasons. Selfishly, I just wanted to find some ski friends. But I also wanted to find a place to connect with other women and talk about skiing in a way that I could relate to. And though the site’s been through some changes, I’ve held firm in keeping it for women only. Yeah, I’ve taken some flak for this, but I’ve never regretted my decision. It’s nice to have a little corner of the ski world that’s testoserone-free. When you want to know about women’s gear, someone knowledgeable actually answers. And no one puts you down or makes a snide remark when you proudly proclaim, “Yes, I AM a jacket slut.” (If you think this sounds weird, go here and you’ll find 105 pages worth of Diva jacket love.)

Here are some interesting facts about TheSkiDiva:

As of September 6, 2016

Number of members: 4,747

Number of discussions: 19,294

Number of messages: 323,700 

Site visitors (since July, 2007): 1,353,162

Where they’re from (top 4): 73% from the US; 8% from Canada; 6% from the UK; 3% from Australia/New Zealand

Where we’ve held for Diva gatherings:
Diva West:
Solitude, Steamboat, Summit County (Breck, Copper, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Vail), Tahoe (Northstar, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl), Big Sky, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain
Diva East: Whiteface, Killington, Okemo, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Stowe, Jay Peak

And here are a few comments about the site that forum members made in last year’s anniversary thread:

• I think I’ve been on the forum since 2009 and have got so so much from it: many new friends and ski buddies. I’ve benefited from the knowledge of so many – for things like tours of Big Sky , trip organization, even meet-ups outside of ski season  – the list could go on and on and on. Also, tons of great info on gear and equipment. And, most of all, I thank Ski Diva for keeping this forum such a positive, supportive place. It’s always a pleasure to “visit.”

• What a great site and GREAT skiing ladies! Since becoming a member I, too, have so many new women ski friends and know I”ll be skiing with my Ski Diva friends on here for the rest of my life!

• I have had so much fun with the Ski Diva’s. The knowledge and support of this group is beyond comparison. Many of us have been through a few life crisis, and the Diva’s were always there for support. We have many technical experts with how to ski, what to ski on or where to ski. I’ve made to Diva East at Sugarloaf. Been to two Mother’s Day weekends at A-Basin. Shown many Diva’s around Tremblant. Did a Ski Diva Roxy weekend at Whistler! I now have ski buddies at Tremblant as well. And if I were to take off for somewhere, I know there is probably a Diva to show me around!

• I have loved being part of this site and learning and reading about what other woman skiers and feeling often, inspired, exited and intimidated some times at the same time, some times different feelings. But whatever it has been, I love it. Although I have not met many “Divas” in person, and I don’t post as much as others (or even very often anymore), I still love coming here. I love that I can post something and feel safe and that I will get feedback and not ridiculed for posting something that may seem silly.

Some of the Ski Divas at Big Sky

Some of the Ski Divas at Big Sky

Administering TheSkiDiva is an honor and a privilege. The caliber of the people, their tremendous spirit, and the friendly, supportive nature of the community makes it a truly remarkable place to hang out. A forum is only as good as its members, so it’s a tribute to the Divas that it’s so much fun.

Happy Tenth! Here’s to the next decade!




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No Limits: 11 Women Who Shattered the Snow Ceiling.

I’m writing this on August 26, Women’s Equality Day. Sure, I know, I’m posting it four days later. But y’know, Women’s Equality shouldn’t be limited to just one day. It’s something we need to think about all the time. Why? Because it’s 2016, not 1916, and a lot of the issues that hold women back should’ve have been resolved a long time ago.

Nonetheless, Women’s Equality Day got me thinking about all the women in the ski world who’ve broken gender barriers and smashed through the snow ceiling. Certainly, there are a lot of amazing women I could include — too many to name, in fact — but I thought I’d point out a  few who have done their part to show that women shouldn’t be limited just because they have female rather than male anatomy.

Andrea Mead Lawrence

Andrea Mead Lawrence



Andrea Mead Lawrence: Let’s start with a good one. Andrea Mead Lawrence was the first American alpine skier to win two Olympic gold medals. Not first female alpine skier — the first alpine skier. She showed all of us that sure, it could be done. And yeah, it could be done by a woman.




Jeanne Thoren

Jeanne Thoren

Jeanne Thoren: Granted, some of the modifications she proposed for skis and boots are still being debated today. But whether you agree with her or not, you have to give Jeanne Thoren her props. Jeanne was the first person in the ski industry to realize that women were not just miniature men and maybe, just maybe, we needed gear engineered to suit us. A radical concept, in its time (which incidentally, wasn’t all that long ago). In 1986, Jeanne designed what is believed to be the first women’s ski, for the Austrian company Blizzard. She also created awareness of and demand for women-centric ski gear, raising the bar for the entire industry and improving the sport for all women. The Exclusive Carve Ski she designed for Dynastar became Ski magazine’s 2007 Ski of the Year. In 2009, she opened the Jeannie Thoren’s Women’s Ski Center in Vail, Colorado.


Suzy Chaffee

Suzy Chaffee

Suzy Chaffee: I had the privilege of interviewing Suzy a couple years ago, and it was pretty mind-blowing to speak to someone I idolized when I first started skiing. Sure, she’s a three-time world freestyle skiing champion, and yeah, she was the first female member of the US Olympic team board of directors. But I think her most far-ranging achievement is her work as a champion of Title IX legislation. Suzy was instrumental in convincing federal lawmakers to enact the statute that guarantees equal opportunities for men and women in federally funded sports and education programs. You can find my interview, along with her long list of achievements, here.

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn


Lindsey Vonn: I hardly need to write anything here. Lindsey isn’t just arguably the best women’s skier of all time, she’s also considered one of the best skiers of all time.  I won’t go into all her accomplishments (you can find them in Wikipedia), but I’ve included her in this list for one important reason: her extremely high profile serves as an inspiration for girls and women everywhere.  She’s also the founder of the Lindsey Vonn Foundation, which empowers young women through scholarships, programs and unique opportunities.



Lynsey Dyer

Lynsey Dyer

Lynsey Dyer: A phenomenal world-class skier who was named Powder Magazine’s Skier of the Year, Lynsey is also the founder of, an organization dedicated to encouraging  women to  participate in outdoor activities. But that’s not all: Fed up with the fact that only 14% of the athletes in major ski films are female when women make up around 40% of the skiing population, Lynsey took it upon herself to produce Pretty Faces, an all-female ski movie, raising the bulk of the money she needed via a Kickstarter campaign. I interviewed her about all this here.



Lindsey Van

Lindsey Van

Lindsey Van: Yes, another Lindsey/Lynsey (what the heck is with that name, anyway?). But this one is different: she flies. Lindsey is an amazing ski jumper; in 2009, she became the first World Champion in women’s ski jumping after winning the first World Championships to allow women to compete. She also holds the North American women’s record with a jump of 171 meters. Before the Olympic Games in 2010, she held the hill record for both men and women in Vancouver. More importantly, her continued efforts not only helped put women’s ski jumping on the map, but helped put it into the 2014 Olympics. For more information on this, here’s a piece I did about it in 2013.

Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke


Sarah Burke: Taken from us way too soon, Sarah was a force to be reckoned with on the Freestyle Skiing circuit. In fact, it’s thanks to her tireless efforts that women’s ski half-pipe was finally included in the X Games, three years after men were competing in this same event. Sarah went on to become a four-time X Game champion. She also coached girls on glaciers in the summer, paving the way for future female competitors in more than one way.




Pam Murphy

Pam Murphy


Pam Murphy: There still aren’t a lot of women in the upper echelons of ski area management, but the first to break the snow ceiling was Pam Murphy. Starting in the ticket office at Mammoth Mountain in 1973, Pam rose through the ranks to vice president of marketing and sales and in 1998, became Mammoth’s general manager — the first female GM for a major ski resort in the country. Pam retired from the post in 2014.



Kim Beekman

Kim Beekman


Kim Beekman: One of the major publications of the ski industry, Skiing Magazine never had a female editor-in-chief in its 68-year history until Kim Beekman took the helm. Named to the post in 2015, Kim is an award-winning journalist, an accomplished lifelong skier, and director of SKI’s rigorous Women’s Ski Test. As editor-in-chief, she’s focused on welcoming a wider range of skiers into the fold, no matter what their ability, through compelling story telling and informative articles.





Angel Collinson

Angel Collinson

Angel Collinson: Angel is kind of the ‘it’ girl of skiing right now. But not without cause. Angel was the first woman to win the Best Line at the Powder Awards, creating what the Ski Journal called “the burliest—and most entertaining—female film segment of all time.” Her footage ended up earning her the coveted closing segment in Paradise Waits, marking the first time a woman has been selected for a TGR finale. The previous year, she broke barriers with the first female opening segment of a TGR film, in 2014’s Almost Ablaze. In fact, until Collinson showed up on the scene three years ago, the studio hadn’t featured a woman in a film in years.



Jen Gurnecki

Jen Gurnecki

Jen Gurecki: What do we do when we’re unhappy with the women’s skis out there? Here’s what Jen did: she stepped up and created Coalition Snow, the first ever woman-owned ski company — not an easy task in an industry that’s dominated by men. The company’s tag line says it all: We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for. Yep, don’t tell her she can’t; she’ll turn it into a can. I interviewed her here.




There’s no doubt there are a lot of inspiring women in the ski world (some of the others I’ve interviewed include Muffy Davis, Donna Weinbrecht, and Elyse Saugstad). In fact, the Ski Hall of Fame will soon be opening a special exhibit on women hall-of-famers, a well-deserved tribute to a talented, powerful group. Helmets off to them all!


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Choose Your Deity: The Gods & Goddesses of Snow


Ullr, from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript.

Ullr, from an ancient Icelandic manuscript.

It’s the end of August, and the gods and goddesses of snow are starting to stir in their beds. This past weekend snow was in the forecast for the higher elevations of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Yes, boys and girls, it’s coming.

‘Gods and goddesses?’ you say. ‘I thought it was all about Ullr!’

Well, not really. Sure, the Nordic deity is the one who gets all the press. Even the most staunch unbelievers aren’t shy about trying all sorts of things to get him to deliver snow during ski season. But Ullr isn’t the only god of  snow out there. Plenty of other cultures have them, too. So if you want to hedge your bets, here are a few others you might want to direct your attention to:

Chione (Khione): The goddess of snow in Greek mythology. Chione was daughter a daughter of Boreas, god of the wintry north wind. She was also the consort of Poseidon, god of the sea.


Itztlacoliuhqui, Aztec god of snow.

Itztlacoliuhqui: No, I have no idea how this is pronounced, but the Aztecs had a god of snow, who was also the god of frost, ice, cold, winter, sin, punishment and human misery. Illustrations show his face as a piece of finely curved black obsidian. Some say this reflects his blindness to the hardship inflicted on farmers by a bad, crop-destroying frost. According to legend, Itztlacoliuhqui started off life as the god Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (Lord of the Dawn, Venus) who, after a shooting match with the Sun God Tonatiuh, was punished and transformed into Itztlacoliuhqui, the god of stone and coldness — which is why it’s always cold at dawn.

Poli’ahu: Incredibly enough, there’s a snow god in Hawaii, too. Poli’ahu, whose name means “cloaked bosom,” or “temple bosom,” is a legendary daughter of Wakea who dwells at the summit of Mauna Kea. The antithesis of her fiery arch-rival, Pele, Poli’ahu spreads her beautiful white kapa across the summit of Mauna Kea in the winter, and adorns the mountain with her pink and gold cloak in the summer.

Aisoyimstan: Many native American tribes had dieties for snow; Aisoyimstan is the snow god for the Black Feet people of Montana. Aisoyimstan is the  ‘Cold Maker’ who blankets the earth with frost and snow. He is completely white, down to his hair and clothing. And he even rides a white horse.


Cailleach Bheur

Cailleach Bheur: The goddess of winter for ancient Scottish, Irish, and Manx peoples, Cailleach Bheur is often depicted as a blue-faced hag who is reborn every October 31. Cailleach Bheur brings the snow until the Goddess Brigit deposes her. She eventually turns to stone on April 30.

Moran (Marzanna): In Slavic mythology, Morana was the Slavic goddess of winter and death. She usually appeared as an ugly old woman, but to those who showed no fear she appeared as a beautiful young girl. Moron’s arrival was always expected with fear and her departure was celebrated with a lot of noise and happiness.

Kuraokami: is a legendary Japanese dragon and Shinto deity of rain and snow.

Khuno: The Incan snow god. According to  legend, Khuno burned the land of all vegetation during a fit of rage, leaving only the coca plant behind. The hungry people ate it and discovered that coca leaves helped them endure the cold. Hey, could this is the reason cocaine is referred to as snow?

So pick your deity, or pray to them all. It can’t hurt.

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