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Help Needed: What Kinds of Women's Programs Would You Like To See?

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
Fair to say that a woman who is an intermediate who would like to start skiing off the groomers will have a different viewpoint and expectation of a Women's Clinic than a woman who is advanced enough want to learn about back country technique and terrain. In the Mid-Atlantic, there aren't any back country clinics because there is so little back country terrain.
I'm not sure I understand what the different viewpoint would be here; that better skiers are less concerned about the gender of their instructors?

As an intermediate looking to get off groomers, I have an interest in learning about backcountry terrain and techniques because skiing ungroomed terrain is the obvious first step toward backcountry-skiing competence, which is what I'm aiming for. A low skill level is not synonymous with a lack of serious commitment to improving. But if we look at women-specific programming or those who seek it as somehow less serious or rigorous, that's.....I guess "problematic" is the word academics often use. It's problematic in so many ways.
 
I'm not sure I understand what the different viewpoint would be here; that better skiers are less concerned about the gender of their instructors?

As an intermediate looking to get off groomers, I have an interest in learning about backcountry terrain and techniques because skiing ungroomed terrain is the obvious first step toward backcountry-skiing competence, which is what I'm aiming for. A low skill level is not synonymous with a lack of serious commitment to improving. But if we look at women-specific programming or those who seek it as somehow less serious or rigorous, that's.....I guess "problematic" is the word academics often use. It's problematic in so many ways.
Some of the women I'm thinking about are cautious intermediates who have not had group lessons before. I'm guessing about their motivation to look for a women's clinic. I never had fear issues, even after rehabbing a knee injury (not a skiing accident). I work with male instructors more often than female and personally do not feel a difference.

It's great that you are interested in moving into the back country. Personally, I have no interest in park skills or uphill travel in the back country. Have not paid attention to discussions about clinics for that, whether co-ed or women only. Have not talked to people in person who are interested in those aspects of skiing. My comments are based on paying attention to online discussions by women asking about group lessons for women only or who wanted a recommendation for a private lesson. Or in some cases, a question on other ski forums by a husband/BF looking for a lesson program for his SO. I have read posts about the woman preferring a female instructor in those situations. Generally, but not always, on TSD the Diva asking was an intermediate or a low advanced skier with fear issues.

Take a look at the list of clinics for women that are in the blog entry by @ski diva . I would guess that many advertise that the instructors will be women.

https://www.theskidiva.com/womens-ski-clinics-18-19/

To me, that implies there is a market for a multi-day clinic for women only that is guaranteed to be taught by a woman. However, there are also clinics that do not mention the gender of the instructor. Among the examples I posted earlier in this thread, Gore makes a point to mention that the instructors are women ("Our accomplished women instructors"), Liberty makes the point that the women's only program is led by a women ("Evie Eastman"), but Bridger Bowl does not mention the gender of the instructors. The Taos Ladies Ski Week has all female instructors for all levels, from beginner thru expert.

Clearly some ski areas and destination resorts think there is a market for women's clinics that are taught by women. Is it a requirement when planning a new program? No. But I do think that a multi-day clinic advertised as "women only" looking to attract all levels of women, including cautious intermediates, should make it clear that the instructor might be a man if that's the case. I can imagine that would be fine for some women, but my sense is that many would hesitate or look elsewhere. Just my opinion.
 
Like @Jilly, I've taken part in the CSIA Women's Edge camp - well, just once, last winter out at Sun Peaks. I thought the program was excellent and extremely well run. Despite us all being instructors, there were some differences in people's ability and desire to do more extreme stuff. So there was an option not to do that double-black diamond, snow- and bump-filled run! We had a couple of video sessions - I truly think, for myself anyway, that video is the key to improvement. (I've noticed the same with trying to improve my golf swing.) We viewed the video individually on the course conductor's camera at lunchtime (with her making comments) and were able to video the video with our phones, so I have copy of mine.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
I’ve taken a few women’s only clinics, and also plenty of lessons with men (I specifically did not take the women’s only ski week last year at Taos), but having strong women instructors for the women’s clinics I’ve taken has 100% been part of the appeal. There is something very inspiring about seeing a strong woman skier really rip in that environment.

I guess the subtext there is a little bit of a bummer, because to me it implies that we don’t see strong woman skiers rip enough because there are just way less of them, but I guess it is what it is.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
I have read posts about the woman preferring a female instructor in those situations. Generally, but not always, on TSD the Diva asking was an intermediate or a low advanced skier with fear issues.
I guess the subtext there is a little bit of a bummer, because to me it implies that we don’t see strong woman skiers rip enough because there are just way less of them, but I guess it is what it is.
You're right, of course, Rachel, that we don't see women ripping it up anywhere near as much as men. And some of those who do rip are made to suffer for it, like Caroline Gleich. That's part of the reason I'd expect to have a female instructor in a women's clinic. All else being equal, I'd like an instructor who understands being a woman in the world of adventure sports, and who can be a role model, especially for younger women. I also like that women can be extremely high-achieving athletes and yet not have pathological levels of ego-driven competitiveness, which is so common in men (I'm generalizing, obviously. But then, signing up for a clinic is a crap shoot; statistically my co-participants in co-ed groups will be more likely to include some overconfident bro-dude than if the clinic were all women).

I'll just leave this here....It's a compilation of women-only programs for upper-level rippers, and some amazing video.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@SallyCat thanks for linking that Teton Gravity article about upper level women's camps.

On a side-note, the seventh listed camp reads as quoted below. This site's founder is not Jessica Baker. What's that all about? Is there another Ski Diva operation out there? Epic Ski was threatened and eventually taken down by Vail because they wanted to use the title Epic for themselves. I see that Jessica Baker has an organization called Ski Divas. @ski diva, I'm hoping there is no legal conflict here....

#7: EXUM GUIDES WOMENS CAMPS
Partnering with Ski Diva’s founder Jessica Baker, Exum Mountain Guides – the famous mountain guiding operation based out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming – offers a week of backcountry exploration the Tetons. The camp includes six nights of lodging, and skiing OB at Jackson Hole, touring in the Tetons, and a half day at Jackson Hole’s smaller cousin, Snow King. Sessions take place throughout the winter, but women’s week is actually going down right now, February 8-13th (sorry we didn't publish this sooner!).


Exum also runs private programming, so get a crew together and pioneer your own experience!
 
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ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
@SallyCat thanks for linking that Teton Gravity article about upper level women's camps.

On a side-note, the seventh listed camp reads as quoted below. This site's founder is not Jessica Baker. What's that all about? Is there another Ski Diva operation out there? Epic Ski was threatened and eventually taken down by Vail because they wanted to use the title Epic for themselves. I see that Jessica Baker has an organization called Ski Divas. @ski diva, I'm hoping there is no legal conflict here....

#7: EXUM GUIDES WOMENS CAMPS
Partnering with Ski Diva’s founder Jessica Baker, Exum Mountain Guides – the famous mountain guiding operation based out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming – offers a week of backcountry exploration the Tetons. The camp includes six nights of lodging, and skiing OB at Jackson Hole, touring in the Tetons, and a half day at Jackson Hole’s smaller cousin, Snow King. Sessions take place throughout the winter, but women’s week is actually going down right now, February 8-13th (sorry we didn't publish this sooner!).


Exum also runs private programming, so get a crew together and pioneer your own experience!

Yes, there is a Ski Diva clinic out there. But technically, we're not "Ski Diva." Our official name is TheSkiDiva.com. So no conflict.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
You know, part of me agrees that the gender of an instructor doesn't really matter. Maybe in an individual lesson, that's so. But in a women's clinic, I think it makes for a better community to have it all female; sisterhood and all that. Plus it's nice not to have men trying to tell us what to do for a change. I also think women instructors probably have a better understanding of what's going on in our heads. And I think seeing a woman instructor who can do the stuff we're trying to learn can have a very positive impact. It can make us think, "Well, if she can do that, so can I."
 
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Tvan

Angel Diva
You know, part of me agrees that the gender of an instructor doesn't really matter. Maybe in an individual lesson, that's so. But in a women's clinic, I think it makes for a better community to have it all female; sisterhood and all that. Plus it's nice not to have men trying to tell us what to do for a change. I also think women instructors probably have a better understanding of what's going on in our heads. And I think seeing a woman instructor who can do the stuff we're trying to learn can have a very positive impact. It can make us think, "Well, if she can do that, so can I."
I’ve been thinking about this.

I agree that its useful to have women’s workshops with female instructors. Sometimes that feels right... especially if the group is supportive and the chemistry is good.

The educator in me thinks that there is also an opportunity to help male instructors see women in perhaps a new light. Working with a group of strong, committed athletes who happen to be women, might be an interesting educational experience for a male instructor as well as for the class. Nothing shows you how well you know your stuff than having to teach it.

I don’t mean for this to sound altruistic. My original answer to @SallyCat ’s question was that having female instructors is important, but for me, not a deal breaker. I want the best instructor for my skills and experience. I can see value in having mixed gender instructors - again, if the chemistry is right.
 
Been thinking about this too... in a women's only clinic I would like a female instructor, otherwise don't really care... at Taos our level 3 instructor certainly didn't "dumb down" for our group nor would I expect any instructor to do that, but Ididn't realize many smaller resorts offer women's clinics and maybe don't have sufficient female instructors . So in that case a male instructor would be fine... As others pointed out, the best person for the job.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
So not to go totally overboard with the sweeping generalizations, but I do think that a good number of women end up in women's clinics because they're had bad learning experiences in the past, and often those bad learning experiences involve being pushed too hard / not given enough guidance / etc by a well-meaning SO.

Not all women's clinics market themselves as being safer / chiller / more welcoming learning environments, but for those that do, I think having a woman as an instructor is kind of mandatory.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
The educator in me thinks that there is also an opportunity to help male instructors see women in perhaps a new light
Funny, I was thinking that as a high school teacher in a co-ed school, I was effective at teaching boys and generally had a good relationship/rapport with them... a bit of attention to trying to understand their perspective went a long way in terms of earning their trust, which of course made them more effective learners.

So my takeaway on the issue of gender in instruction:

1. I was an effective teacher for my male students as a result of an intentional effort at empathetic understanding. The same could be said for many male ski instructors regarding women.

2. I would not want my male students to have only female or only male teachers. The same goes for female students.

3. It shouldn't matter in terms of the raw content of historical study, but I'd prefer to read women's history written by a female historian.

4. All things being equal in terms of technical competence, what makes an instructor the "best" might have to do with social skills or empathy, so I (too) think a women's clinic should have a female instructor. Even if your male instructor is basically the Alan Alda of ski instruction, I still think that there are plenty of good reasons (mentioned eloquently in this thread) for women to teach women-only clinics.
 
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tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm curious if it makes a difference for people if most of the instructors are female but there is one or two male instructors? Would that still bother people? At the time I didn't think a thing of it at Gore, b/c the lady leading our group was the teacher; the male instructor was just tagging along to assist.

I'll admit, I'm probably not the target audience for a women's clinic. Most of my gymnastics coaches have been men so male instructors don't even really even register for me as a thing; women's clinics for me were more about the class being women only.
 

TeleChica

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I will raise an issue I have experienced that speaks in some ways to why women instructors can be a nice option. I have noticed on more than one occasion that some male instructors tend to gravitate to the younger and more attractive participants, offering more attention and focus. In most cases, I honestly don't think they realize they are doing it, but I have definitely noticed it.

That said, I've also had all women clinics (with women instructors) where the lead instructor paid more attention and focus on the higher level women in the class. Actually, that can be true of both male and female instructors. So I guess it's really an issue of being aware of your blind spots as instructors and working to overcome certain tendencies.

Overall, though, I think I tend to prefer women instructors as a whole. I just feel more comfortable and don't feel the same pressure I do with men. This from a women whose ski buddies are almost all men. But I think women are less likely to pre-judge me as a middle-aged skier, where men definitely tend to (in my experience).

YMMV
 

Pixie Perfect

Diva in Training
Last season all my instructors except one were men. My favorite instructor was a woman, but she wasn’t my favorite because she was a woman. I just really resonated with her teaching style.

I will however say she helped me finally understand my hip positioning which I had been struggling with. I think her understanding of curves as a woman helped me find the natural place for me to ski without being in the backseat or exaggerated forward position. So personally if I were to sign up for a women’s clinic I would hope for a female instructor who could provide their perspective, tips and techniques due to her experiences.
 

Elinor

Certified Ski Diva
I will raise an issue I have experienced that speaks in some ways to why women instructors can be a nice option. I have noticed on more than one occasion that some male instructors tend to gravitate to the younger and more attractive participants, offering more attention and focus. In most cases, I honestly don't think they realize they are doing it, but I have definitely noticed it.

That said, I've also had all women clinics (with women instructors) where the lead instructor paid more attention and focus on the higher level women in the class. Actually, that can be true of both male and female instructors. So I guess it's really an issue of being aware of your blind spots as instructors and working to overcome certain tendencies.

Overall, though, I think I tend to prefer women instructors as a whole. I just feel more comfortable and don't feel the same pressure I do with men. This from a women whose ski buddies are almost all men. But I think women are less likely to pre-judge me as a middle-aged skier, where men definitely tend to (in my experience).

YMMV
The few women instructors I've had have been very good. For me the criterion that I've found distinguishes the better instructors (for me) from the run-of-the-mill is AGE. Invariably, I find the older, more mature ones most empathic, patient and helpful.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you all again for your help. This is what we came up with for this season. We're excited about it and I hope it attracts a good number of participants!

Women’s Full-Day Clinics

Full day clinics designed specifically for beginner & intermediate female skiers and riders.

Dates: 1/13, 1/27, 2/10, 2/24, 3/3

Time: 9am-3pm

Includes: 4 hours of on-snow group instruction, 1 hourlong off-snow workshop, full-day lift ticket, lunch, and one complimentary drink at the bar.

Cost: $99

Meet other women skiers and develop your on-snow skills at Suicide Six’s full-day women’s clinics. Taking place twice per month, each clinic offers a morning of instruction followed by a group lunch in the base lodge. In the afternoon, participants may choose to continue instruction, ski on their own, or participate in afternoon activities and workshops. Workshops include skills tutorials such as tuning and waxing skis, bootfitting, ski demos, discussions of ski-related issues, and exercises designed to keep you safe and healthy on the slopes. End the day with a complimentary drink at Purley's Pourhouse.
 

Elinor

Certified Ski Diva
Hi SallyCat - sounds great, especially with the afternoon options to choose from!
If I were in the northern hemisphere I'd be sorely tempted to join you.
Best wishes with the clinics. :ski:
 

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