Learning to ski or snowboard at an early age is the perfect way to help young children instill a love for winter. Exploring the slopes helps kids build self-confidence, meet new friends and develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.
Ski mamas know that it can be hard to focus on form when they are skiing with their families. Between making sure everyone is warm and fed, encouraging your kids to try something challenging or just hoping you can keep up, there’s not a lot of time to think about technique.
Enter the Women’s Alpine Adventure clinics at Okemo Mountain Resort. These multi-day group experiences are designed to give women a chance to improve their skiing or boarding with coaching from skilled female instructors. The clinics are all about learning at your own ability level, picking up new skills and then enjoying the confidence on the mountain that comes with doing so.
Oh, and there may be a bit of wine and cheese and some dancing involved too. Because your kids aren’t watching.
Mamas Gina and Mara checked out a two-day Women’s Alpine Adventure at the beginning of February – here’s Mara’s report.
Fast Groomers and a Few Bumps and Trees
When I met Terry Carey, my instructor for the two-day Women’s Alpine Adventure clinic, the first thing I noticed was her baseball cap with the words “Cross Fit” emblazoned across the top. For the briefest of moments I felt a bit nervous. Would she be tough on our group? Would we have to do burpees in our ski boots? Or planks when we got off the lift?
I need not have worried. A few minutes in to our first run on a gorgeous snowy morning with a couple of inches of fresh snow dusting the hill Terry stopped and assembled the seven women in our group around her before asking in what was clearly her best teacher voice, “OK, I have a question for you all. What do you do when there’s fresh powder?”
She grinned as we all stood there and racked our brains for powder techniques – “lighten up on your stance” and “flatten our your skis” were a few of the suggestions tossed out.
Terry laughed at us. “You go first!” she cried, “Now who’s going to?”
As I took her up on her challenge and we all whooped down the hill, I realized that this clinic was going to be all about having fun and lots and lots of great skiing.
I had indicated on my application that I felt comfortable skiing just about any trail but that I wanted to improve my speed and coordination on moguls and gladed trails, which are the places that my 14- and 11-year-old sons want to ski and where I therefore end up spending most of my time.
I felt like I was well matched with the other skiers in my group, all of whom skied fast and pretty much continuously – in fact, lunch was about the only time we stopped.
Here are some of the fantastic and funny skiing insights I gained from Terry:
- You should be flexing your ankles while you turn, feeling them open and close.
- There are no jazz hands in skiing! Keep your hands close to your body.
- Suck your belly button in and then lead with it when you turn.
- When you’re on flat terrain, try skiing on one ski with the tip of the lifted foot down to get the feeling of pushing forward.
- You are the captain and the skis are your ship – remember that you are in charge of what your legs do.
Terry also gave each woman in our group individually tailored advice. For me it was all about completing my turns, making them nice and rounded. She also had me practice switching the lines I took on the bump trails mid-run to give me more flexibility when I get onto that challenging terrain.
What I loved about working with Terry was that she offered pretty much all her advice as we went – we didn’t spend a lot of time standing around listening or doing drills but really skied. And that includes the run where she made us abandon our poles at the top so we could focus on our legs and body position over our skis. I enjoyed her creative and challenging way of teaching.
If I had been in charge, I would have spent a bit more time skiing in the trees and on the bumps. My favorite trail was Double Diamond, which had both, and we only skied it one time each day. But I made the most of the fact that the other women in my group preferred groomed trails and dedicated myself to improving my form, something I never get to do when I ski with my boys who always want to ski the most challenging terrain.
I loved the atmosphere of the two-day clinic, which was all about fun and encouragement and getting down to the tunes that played whenever we were inside. The clinic instructors proved that they knew how to move not only on their skis but on the impromptu dance floor next to one of the dining tables.
And there was a lot of recognition of accomplishment too. At lunch on the second day, the teachers shared special achievements by some of the skiers in their groups and badges were handed out to women who had done the program multiple times including one in my group who was on her eighth clinic.
On our second day Terry told us all repeatedly to “ski into the future.” While she was referring to leaning down the mountain and into our turns, I felt that she was offering me great advice that I would take with me whenever I skied from that day forward.
More information about Women’s Alpine Adventure Clinics
- Okemo Mountain Resort offers 5-, 3- and 2-day clinics for women skiers and boarders of all ability levels. There are two programs remaining in March of 2017.
- The prices for the clinics are very reasonable, especially given that they include not only all the great coaching but lift tickets (there’s a discounted price for season pass holders), a full breakfast and lunch each day of skiing and fun extras like cocktail parties with snacks. If you’re staying offsite, you’ll also get a free overnight ski storage, preferred parking and a discount at the pool and fitness center.
- The most convenient thing to do is to stay right at the resort. Lodging options at Okemo Mountain Resort include not just slopeside hotel rooms in the Jackson Gore Village area, which is where the clinics are based, but large suites that are really more like condos. These have kitchens if you’re inclined to make your own dinners and gas fireplaces to cozy up next to after a full day on the slopes. Amenities also include covered parking, access to all of the fun stuff to do in the village like indoor and outdoor hot tubs, access to the Fitness Center and valet and concierge service.
- There are several onsite restaurants at Okemo Mountain Resort including the Coleman Brook Tavern, which serves locally sourced dishes like handmade butternut ravioli topped with mushrooms, onions and braised kale or pork loin schnitzel that’s piled with birch syrup baked apples. Food is served not only in the dining room but in the lovely lobby bar, which has a large fireplace.
Think you might want to visit Okemo Mountain Resort with your family? Check out Mara’s full review of her stay with hers. And for another perspective on the WAA Clinics, be sure to read Gina’s post about her Okemo experience.