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Ski Sun Peaks Ski Sisters: Making Great Women Skiers

A skier streaks down the powder slopes at Sun Peaks Ski area Photo by Adam Stein/Sun Peaks

Experience an empowering Women’s Ski Clinic at Sun Peaks Ski Resort in breathtaking British Columbia.

Yes, women ski differently. Yes, they learn differently.

Sure, there’s always the she-jock who runs with the boys. The rest of us … not so much.

I’ll never forget my first women’s ski clinic. It came not long after a ski class where I was one of two women among half a dozen men. We hit a ridge and everyone froze.

“Are you wimps? Are you weenies?” the male instructor shouted. “I’m gonna get this great snow and you won’t get anything if you don’t hurry.”

Whereupon the guys dived into it. And us two women? We were still immobile with fear.

Fast forward a few weeks later to Whistler and a women’s clinic. It was icy and we had to come around a high ridge. We all stopped dead in our tracks.

Skiing through the powder covered trees at Sun Peaks resort. Photo by Adam Stein/Sun Peaks

Skiing through the powder covered trees at Sun Peaks resort. Photo by Adam Stein/Sun Peaks

“Yvette,” I’ve watched you ski all day,” the female instructor said to me. “I know you have the skill to do this. Just follow and do what I do.”

And I did. Along with all the other shaking women behind me.

A Sisterhood of Confidence

So it comes as no surprise that the focus of Laurie White’s Ski Sisters program at Sun Peaks Resort is building confidence.

“I would see these women, mostly around age 50, and they weren’t smiling. Their husbands had run out of patience and headed for the black (expert) runs. Their kids left them in the dust. And they were stuck on the green (beginner) runs.”

Laurie personally remembers this kind of situation all too well. She didn’t even start skiing seriously until her early ‘40s, so she knows what it’s like to be a novice adult skier.

Women have fun skiiing at Sun Peaks.

The Ski Sisters program at Sun Peaks empower women with both confidence and skills. Photo by Adam Stein, Sun Peaks.

“I understand mature women … how their bodies work and what they need,” she explained.

And so, we set off to remake the skiing of this mature woman–me.

“It’s important to find your balance on the slope,” she said while demonstrating. “Once you’re balanced over the mountain, you can adjust to the pitch and I can take you into anything.”

I shook my head, not quite sure how to achieve this.

 “Everyone has a milking stool behind them. You need to make like you’re going to sit on that stool.”

That meant I was supposed to bend my knees. I’d heard that so many times before, but the visualization of the stool helped.

We worked our way through what other instructors have called early weight transfer … shifting weight to the downhill ski even before the turn starts. But more important, being patient and riding the turn through while keeping that bent-knee stance.

I’m usually queen of the zigzag survival turn. But suddenly, I had more control.

Ski Sisters participants easily ski steep slopes at Sun Peaks

Instructor Laurie White skis with one of her clients in the Ski Sisters program at Sun Peaks Resort, BC, Canada. Photo by Louise Christie for Ski Sisters.

“I start on the green runs and work this slowly,” Laurie said. “Women say, ‘I always ski greens. I can’t even ski a blue’. But I take them on more steep runs and, at the end of the morning, I point to a sign and tell them, ‘You just skied a black’.”

“Ski Sisters is also all about having fun,” Laurie continued. “It’s not about going out and just doing regular lessons. I take the women out and we go at their pace and we teach them how to use all parts of the terrain on the mountain, maybe step out of their comfort zone. And they end up having such a good time.”

And, frankly, they finally have a ski story of their own.

“Women never have a ski story,” Laurie said. “Their husbands talk about conquering some double black run, the kids talk about skiing bumps, but the women…? This puts adventure and fun into their skiing and, if the conditions are right, I get them into powder or trees quickly.”

We took off down a tame blue run and Laurie skied beside me.

“Breathe!” She shouted.

Not quick shallow breaths, but deep ones with an exhale that goes to your feet. This gets your weight down to your toes and balances you on the hill. And honestly, it really helps.

The balancing, it turns out, is the crux of it all.

So we graduated from blue runs to Sun Peaks’ milder blacks. And then, she announced, “You are ready.”

A skier screamd down a mountain at Sun Peaks.

After the Ski Sisters clinic, women skiers can tackle some of the toughest slopes at Sun Peaks. Photo by Adam Stein, Sun Peaks.

We headed up Crystal Chair, turned right and up to the start of Headwall, a double black run that looks and feels like, yes, a wall.

And we took off. I bent my knees, I held the turns, I balanced. I even remembered to breathe.

And I did short swing turns down that sucker. No stopping. No zig zagging, just respectable turns down a run that usually scares me silly.

I went back several more times in the next two days, just to make sure it was all real. – Yvette Cardozo, RFT Ski & Dive Editor

If You Go

* Sun Peaks Resort’s ski season runs November to April. There’s 3,678 skiable acres with 124 trails, 11 lifts and a vertical drop of 2,894 feet spanning three mountains. This makes Sun Peaks the second largest ski area in British Columbia after Whistler and third largest in all Canada.

* Non ski activities include dogsled tours, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, rides in the snowcat groomers after the lifts close, tubing and ice skating.

* Check out these special night activities:

A once-a-month full moon nordic ski, three miles to a cabin for live music, chili and fondue.

Sun Peaks’ signature weekly torchlight fondue where people take the lift up to the on-slope lodge, then after dinner ski down by headlamp.

A weekly, easy, half mile snowshoe campfire tour through forest trails for S’mores or for hot dogs and S’mores.

Guests can dog sled at Sun Peaks.

Don’t ski? Visitors can dog sled at Sun Peaks too. Photo by Adam Stein, Sun Peaks.

Sun Peaks Resort: www.sunpeaksresort.com

Ski Sisters: contact Sun Peaks Snow School at www.skisunpeaksresort.com

Check out how Yvette kept her energy up for all that skiing with “Poutine and Caesar.”

Here are more a few more cool stories by Yvette Cardozo:

“Saucy Bison Burger Recipe”

“Ski Fernie: Spectacular Snow in the Canadian Rockies”

“Cambodia for Foodies”

“Canadian ‘Country Food’”

“Diving Riviera Maya Mexico’s Scuba Caverns”

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Yvette Cardozo, RFT Ski & Dive Editor

Yvette Cardozo from the Seattle, Washington area, likes to visit interesting places and learn about interesting cultures and, if a tasty local dish is involved, so much the better. She’s eaten everything from gourmet food at the world’s finest restaurants to native food in Asia, the arctic, and all kinds of places in between.Yvette recalls being in Antarctica and going out on the land with Inuit elders in arctic Canada , then bagging a caribou. They dragged it back to camp and ate it on the spot raw. She quips, “Hey, if you like steak tartare….”Yvette, who is a veteran skier and diver, is RFT’s Ski & Dive Editor.