Girlfriend Getaway: Women’s Ski Camps

Hone your skills on the slopes, bond with fellow females and learn lifetime lessons at a women-only weekend ski workshop.


For some women, a ski vacation simply means sitting by the fire after the bunny slopes brought on an avalanche of tears and frustration, while their significant other is off dominating double black diamonds. Whether a natural athlete or not, many women simply need the right environment and motivation to improve their on-snow skills, especially when learning to ski or ride at an older age.

Results can be exceptionally disastrous when an athletic boyfriend or well-intentioned husband attempts to teach female counterparts how to ski, without really knowing how to teach a woman how to ski.

Avoid this scenario and improve your skiing or snowboarding skills by signing up for a women-only ski camp.

Benefits of Learning With Other Women

While I’m lucky to have a patient and helpful husband, we agree that it’s better for our marriage that I head off to ski with my girlfriends often and attend a women’s ski camp once a season to keep working on various snow skills. The ladies I typically ski with are hard-chargers, so my skills are constantly being tested. But we’re also out there for fun, and there’s no pressure involved.

“Women’s ski camps provide a nurturing environment and give each woman a chance to find a new personal best,” says Miriam Green, ski instructor at Keystone in Colorado.

“The best way to improve ski skills is to provide a safe haven for learning,” agrees Jessica Baker, a professional mountain guide, member of Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and founder of Ski Divas Women’s Ski Camps. “Giving women time to learn the details needed (to understand the techniques), encouragement and the respect they deserve is important. An all-women camp provides the patience, understanding and a ‘no question is a dumb question’ mentality. It’s all about women supporting women.”

Whether you go with your girlfriends or fly solo, plan to form a new level of friendship, as you’ll be building confidence through mutual support and a sense of camaraderie in both on-snow and après-ski activities, like wine tasting, yoga and spa time. Group discussions and mind-and-body workshops that extend into your daily life are some of the added perks to many women’s ski and snowboard camps.

Not for Beginners Only

I started skiing as a teenager, then jumping into ski racing. Lacking the fundamentals, it was more about the social scene for me. After spending years of playing follow the leader, struggling to keep up and somehow managing not to get seriously injured, I attended a few day clinics for women. The number of bad habits that had formed from lacking proper instruction was astounding.

“A women’s specific ski camp also helps a woman work on details and technical aspects of skiing that men may not want to bother with,” says Baker. “In general, I have found that women need more attention, and more detail to help them learn.”

The biggest hurdle in my skiing has been unlearning those bad habits and telling myself I can do this better. It’s finally starting to pay off—now that I know that skiing with good technique makes it easier, it’s far more natural to focus on the right way.

I also learned I’m more successful when backed by a supportive, patient group, which helped to build confidence on terrain I thought I couldn’t ski. After tackling a field of menacing moguls (which I’d avoided until this clinic) and tight trees one time at Smugglers’ Notch, our group of girls joined in a round of high-fives and smiles, and that experience sticks with me.

Gender Matters

Understanding the physical differences between the way men and women ski is also important. The “Thoren Theory” is a great primer by women’s skiing pioneer, Jeannie Thoren. Adapting to some of these physiological differences, many camps offer women’s equipment demos and boot-fitting workshops as a part of the weekend getaways.

I once skied with Jeannie in Telluride, Colorado and had a private, mini-clinic with a girlfriend of mine, who had made the jump from ski racing to snowboarding because of boot-fitting issues and overall frustration of racing. Her pear-body shape was affecting the way she skied, and after Jeannie made a few suggestions and equipment adjustments, you could immediately tell the improvement.

Pre-Camp Workouts

One of my biggest regrets is that I was not in better shape for a seven-day trip to Europe, where we hiked off-piste for turns with our female guide in Davos, Switzerland. If you’re planning to invest in your skill by attending a women’s camp, the best thing you can do to prepare yourself physically is to get the most out of the experience. Hitting the gym for weeks, or months, beforehand will pay off in large sums when you hit the snow.

Great cardio fitness may also help you adjust more quickly to higher altitudes, and strengthening your leg and core muscles will help you push through tougher terrain, and possibly avoid injury. [Read more about adjusting to high altitudes and ski injury prevention.]

Post-Camp Practice

Spending a few extra days post-camp working on your skills will solidify what you’ve learned and help make future ski days more enjoyable. If you’re lucky enough to have a ski resort near you, check to see if they offer special women’s clinics daily—Women’s Wednesdays have grown in popularity at many ski areas and many mountains host special events for women throughout the season.

Advanced to expert skiers can still benefit from women’s camps that teach entirely new skills, such as backcountry touring and avalanche education, which can help you break out of a groomed-only run routine. You can even gather your own group of girlfriends to go on a private lesson or camp with a female instructor, and remind each other of technique tips every time you ski together. Most of all, make it fun! After all, that’s what skiing and snowboarding are all about!


Read Eight Great Getaways for Women’s Ski and Snowboard Camps

Eight Great Getaways for Women’s Ski and Snowboard Camps

A women’s ski or snowboard camp makes for a great reason to head to amazing resort destinations in North America and Europe. And in summer, you can even skip the sweltering heat and head to the southern hemisphere for a women-only ski retreat. First, get hooked at a women’s weekend at one of these eight great destinations:

1. Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) is one of the steepest and most challenging ski areas in North America—you’ll be glad you have a female guide to show you the ropes. JHMR is hosting a women’s snowboard camp from Jan. 14 to 17, 2009. The $900 camp fee includes lift tickets, meals, video analysis and more, with lodging packages available. For female skiers, there are two camp dates available, Jan. 14 to 17 and Feb. 26 to March 1, 2009. Fees during this time can increase to $990. Visit for more details.

2. Salt Lake City, Utah. Located in the Wasatch Mountains, Snowbird, just 30 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), is one of Utah’s most prized resorts. Its four-day women’s only camp features small group sizes, guest coaches, gear presentations, yoga classes and access to the Cliff Spa’s rooftop pool. Starting at $640 for the basics, this camp option is one of the most affordable, since there are competitive airfares into SLC from most major cities. Two 2009 camp dates offered; inclusive lodging packages also available. Visit for information.

3. La Grave, France. For one of Jessica Baker’s premier Ski Diva camps for advanced abilities, the scenery of the French Alps, the food and copious amounts of French wine are probably worth the trip alone. This camp will challenge your steep skiing skills and allow you to learn about alpine safety, ski mountaineering and more. The $3,300 fee includes six days of lodging, meals, lift tickets, coaching and video analysis, professional photography, yoga sessions and après ski activities. Visit for more information, and view other locations for weekend and week-long camps.

4. Aspen, Colorado. Two-time World Extreme Skiing Champion Kim Reichelm travels the globe offering both women’s only and coed skiing adventure trips and clinics. Aspen’s legendary terrain, excessive shopping and nightlife in town make this camp an easy choice for intermediate to advanced female skiers. From Feb. 23 to 28, 2009, the $2,300 clinic includes four days of instruction, gourmet slopeside lunches, après ski parties, boot workshops and small group sizes for personal attention. Lodging is not included. Visit for more information and additional camp destinations.

5. Mammoth, California. Mammoth Mountain, Los Angeles’ “local” ski area is offering four dates during the 2008-2009 season for women’s only ski and snowboard camps. These three-day camps include all day lessons, breakfast and lunch, one day of demo skis, video analysis and après ski activities for $495. It’s also open for women in intermediate to expert ski levels. Visit for additional information and specific dates.

6. Whistler/Blackcomb, Canada. Host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, this massive mountain will challenge the most advanced skiers and snowboarders in the world. But you can also use it as your training ground. Whistler offers women’s only two-day learn to ski and ride camps sponsored by Roxy to help you get started. Visit for more details.

7. Crested Butte, Colorado. Head to this high-altitude haven if you’re more serious about pushing the limits of your ski skills than the limits of your credit card. The Rippin Chix Steep Camp is hosted by Freeskiing Champion skier Allison Garnett. This two-day camp is aimed at helping advanced female alpine and telemark skiers learn how to negotiate obstacles like trees, stumps and jump rocks. The camp also benefits the Save Our Snow Foundation. Camp prices start at $350, not including lodging or lift tickets. Visit for additional camp details.

8. White Mountains, New Hampshire. Who said you have to go downhill to have a good time? In Pinkham Notch, N.H., you’ll find nearly 25 miles of cross country ski trails, groomed for skating and classical technique, with majestic Mount Washington as the backdrop. The Women’s Winter Escape weekend (Jan. 17 to 19, 2009) offers Nordic ski clinics with female instructors, yoga, massage, a functional fashion show, snowshoeing, dog sledding, dinner and wine tasting. Cost is $140 per person, including meals, and lodging packages are offered at several charming New England inns. Visit for more information.

Themes: Mountain Vacations, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Skiing, Snowboarding

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