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Women's Ski Clinics Boost Skills, Confidence
Susan Klann

Camaraderieā€¦skill-buildingā€¦confidence. Thatapostrophes why women are gravitating toward ski clinics geared just for them.

"Itapostrophes not just about performance on the hill," says Pat Campbell, director of skier services for Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado. "Thatapostrophes been an important component, but along with that is the social experience and relationships building. Some women come with friends and others leave with new friends. Not all women, but a certain segment, feel an all-womenapostrophes clinic is an emotionally safe learning environment where they can develop at their own level."

"With all-women instructors, and women-only clinics, it seems to take away the push to prove oneself before men, and participants seem much more comfortable," says Pat Hammon, Nordic Center supervisor for Beaver Creek.

Under the guidance of a female instructor, women more easily overcome fears that may have resulted from a well-meaning boyfriend or husband taking them down too-difficult terrain in the past. For other women, the clinics offer the opportunity to focus on their own skills and have a selfish skiing experience after years spent supporting their familyapostrophes needs on the slopes. Businesswomen take clinics as a weekend getaway. For local women living near ski resorts or along the Front Range in Colorado, the clinics are a forum for meeting ski partners of similar ability.

Nearly every Colorado ski resort offers a womenapostrophes program during the season (see related article, Womenapostrophes Ski Clinics in the Colorado Rockies). Most started about 10 years ago, although Telluride launched its first woman-only event more than two decades ago.

At Winter Park, On Snow Ski School supervisor and sales coordinator Joy Osanna-Holland says instructors focus on guest-centered teaching-finding out what the individualapostrophes motivation is in taking the clinic and meeting or exceeding that motivation. Women of all ages take the clinics, from 22 years up to 70. "You can make a lot of progress, but you need to do your homework as well," she notes. Still, she stresses that the number one premise of Winter Parkapostrophes program is to have fun. Often, women make plans to meet again for a clinic the next year. "The strength of the womenapostrophes program is in the benefits of camaraderie, having female coaches, and as a comfortable place to be."

"Thereapostrophes a lot of confidence building, and people walk away feeling they were successful," says Breckenridgeapostrophes Campbell. "At the higher ability range more aggressive, skilled women sometimes shy away from clinics because they think itapostrophes too warm and fuzzy. But we take really high-end women and challenge them and satisfy their needs."

Group sizes generally range from 3 to 7 women, assembled according to ability. Some clinics add-on yoga or other special programs, as well as voluntary social events in the evening. "Itapostrophes great for single women," notes Campbell. "You always have the opportunity to be with people if you want."

The camaraderie, improvement in skills and the bonds women make through the ski clinics can be life-long, agrees Johanna Hall of Steamboat Springs Ski Resort. "It sends chills up your spine itapostrophes so dynamic." Itapostrophes all about the instructor, she notes.

"Some women love to be pushed and challenged and they get a top female coach who can demonstrate skills. Itapostrophes all done with pace and timing so that by the time youapostrophere in the chutes or big bumps youapostrophere performing at your peak. Others need a more nurturing type of coach. The correct instructor goes a long way toward womenapostrophes success."

Coaches are sensitive to the dynamics of the group and pay attention to the flow of energy and attention span. "Typically thereapostrophes a wave in the morning-you warm up working on technique, then right before lunch you challenge them when theyapostrophere at their peak. Then you bring it down, have lunch, and after lunch the warm up is generally a little longer and the peak period a little shorter," notes Hall.

Thereapostrophes also been a surge of interest in womenapostrophes telemarking clinics. Beaver Creek Ski Resortapostrophes tele workshops for women, one in January and one in February, "have been wildly popular," says Pat Hammon, Nordic Center supervisor. "Women seem to be really enjoying telemarking because itapostrophes so graceful."

Coupled with advances in womenapostrophes ski equipment, particularly womenapostrophes boots (see related article, The White Stuff: What to look for in womenapostrophes ski equipment, itapostrophes a friendly new world for women on the slopes.