| Jennie Hughes
A phrase many women in the snow sports community know all too well is “you’re pretty good for a girl” or “I can’t even do that”. These phrases are not the compliments some might think they are. Phrases like these imply low expectations simply based on gender, even without meaning to. The ski and snowboard industry has long been seen as a masculine space. There’s nothing wrong with going out to ski with the boys but sometimes it’s tough being the token girl in the group. Often when women are put in the position of the token female, it feels like you need to ski twice as hard just to prove you belong. It makes it hard to laugh at yourself when you’re constantly trying to prove yourself. This isn’t just an issue for advanced skiers but also beginners. There’s nothing worse than biffing it under the chair lift and hearing a gaggle of boys cackling from above. What makes that better? Having your girl gang there to laugh along with you. Whether you’ve been skiing or boarding all your life or just starting out; finding an awesome group of women to have fun and improve with makes all the difference.
According to the Women's Sports Foundation, after the age of fourteen, the dropout rate of sports for girls is twice that of boys. Circumstances such as a decreased quality of experience, social stigma, and cost all contribute to that. The financial barrier to start skiing or snowboarding is, unfortunately, a reality of the industry; the energy of our environment should not be an added barrier. There is so much we can do about social stigma and quality of experience. It starts with creating a space for girls to feel like they belong in our community- because they do! You don’t have to be a pro to be able to exist in outdoor spaces. Your excitement and passion for skiing and snowboarding are all that should matter.
We can all do our part in creating a positive and supportive environment for not just girls but people of all backgrounds and walks of life to enjoy. Getting out to ski with a supportive group encourages you to push yourself and more importantly have fun! At Sundance, we’re so lucky to be able to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for skiers and snowboarders of all backgrounds. So keep that energy when you leave the shop and spread it on the mountain!
Its 2021 and inclusivity in the snowsports community has come so far. It's better than it's ever been but we can’t stop now. Let’s all do our part to keep our community an inclusive and welcoming space. More importantly, get out with your girlfriends and ski!
Don’t have a girl gang to ski and board with? Check out Snow Valley’s Ladies Nights and take a group lesson. Facebook groups are another great place to find women of all levels to learn and have fun with! Go see Womb Tang Clan’s Facebook group for the Bow Valley area to find your local female shredders (don’t forget your mask and keep it COVID safe of course!).