Ladies, this is your season to tear it up on the slopes. (Or at après...or at the spa. It's up to you.)
You've probably heard of the women's ski camp, but if not, let us fill you in. To meet the demands of women interested in developing their skills on the slopes, resorts across North America began crafting single- and multi-day camps taught by women, for women. The purposes of these camps and clinics are varied: some provide women a safe, non-intimidating environment in which to gain confidence; others provde women the opportunity to develop highly specialized skills in big mountain skiing; and still more offer a way for women to connect on and off the slopes through social après hours and trips to the spa. Over the years, these camps have been fine-tuned to meet the most specific needs of women shredders: wellness camps include guest talks by nutritionists and afternoon yoga, while camps that tackle the technicalities of steeps include video analysis and personalized instruction by big-name pros.
If some preconceived notion of a women's camp lacking substance has kept you from booking one, we suggest you read this list. Here are 7 reasons to book a ladies ski camp (and some of the top camps in the country to boot):
1. Gain confidence. While the dynamics of the sport have seriously shifted over the past five years, skiing can still feel like it's dominated by men – and this can be a challenging energy to work with when skiing in a co-ed clinic. Learning and pushing your personal limits in a safe way (and around other ladies doing the same thing) will seriously boost your confidence – on and off the slopes. This may mean carving smooth turns down a particularly steep double blue, or landing smoothly off a 10 foot drop in the backcountry: the intensity itself doesn't matter so much as the ability to push through personal doubts on the slopes and recognize that you are so much more capable than you thought.
Top Pick: Join the Women of Winter Camp at Squaw Valley for three days of skill development, equipment pointers, guidance on terrain selection, and inspirational guest lecturers.
2. Wine and dine. Some camps are for pushing the limits, and others are for kicking back and enjoying all aspects of skiing – including the après hour. Resorts cater to what women want out of their clinic experiences, and for some ladies, that means skiing together and celebrating together. If a social scene and all-inclusive libations are your motivation for a ski vacation, you're in luck: there are women's clinics that cater to this.
Top Pick: Check out the Women and Wine Wednesdays at Breckenridge: a half day clinic followed by glass of wine at après hour.
3. Learn new skills. In addition to specialty camps just for women, there are camps and clinics targeted toward improving specific skills – also just for women. If you're comfortable on groomed steeps but can't seem to get the nerve to tackle the bumps, sign up for a mogul skiing clinic. If you find yourself comfortable on most terrain but can't seem to keep up with your kids, register for an all-mountain camp that will get some mileage under your boots: it's the fastest way to improve. It's never too late to learn a new skill on skis, regardless of how basic or complex it may seem. (If throwing tricks at the top of the half-pipe wall is your dream, let your instructor know – there may be other ladies secretly wishing they could do the same!)
Top Pick: Okemo has hosted the Women's Alpine Adventures camp for 20 years; this multi-day program is an opportunity for skiers of any level to enhance skills across all terrain; the digs at the Jackson Gore Inn aren't bad, either.
4. Ski with the stars. A rising number of professional female skiers have taken personal interest in developing their own camps for women. Join Lindsey Vonn's Ski Girls Rock camp at Breckenridge to work on slaying the steeps, or Keely Kelleher's Keely's Camp to polish big mountain skills – options abound across North America. It's truly inspiring to see these athletes and their teams of professional female skiers doing their thing. Take the opportunity to ski with the best of the best – you'll leave with new skills, good friends, and renewed sense of confidence on the slopes.
Top Pick: The Elevate Camp at Jackson Hole offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of local pros Jess McMillan, Kim Havell, and Crystal Wright with on-snow instruction, video analysis, fitness routines, pilates, and more.
5. Make connections. You'll likely make a few new friends in a women's ski clinic, and perhaps business connections, workout buddies, or next year's ski vacation pals. One of the biggest obstacles for women who want to ski more is feeling like they don't have anyone to ski with: this rings true with local ski bums and tourist vacationers alike. If you're setting out on a week-long ski vacation with your hubby, consider booking it around a ladies ski clinic. You'll learn some skills and learn the mountain, plus have some ski buddy connections for later in the week. This is a major perk if your partner is not a skier, or skis at a different ability level.
Top Pick: Aspen Snowmass runs the Women's Edge four day camps for intermediate through advanced skiers; professional coaches emphasize learning, laughing, and long-lasting relationships.
6. Dive into wellness. The ski vacation doesn't have to be about indulgent food and mojitos in the hot tub. Don't get us wrong: kicking back and relaxing is a great way to go, but there are holistic and healthy ways to do it when you book certain women's ski clinics. Craving built-in spa time and yoga classes? Interested in learning from nutrition and health coaching guest speakers? Stoked to get a personalized fitness routine to maximize performance on the slopes? Wellness ski camps have you covered.
Top Pick: The Women's Ski and Wellness Week at Telluride combines ski instruction with yoga, meditation, wellness speakers and nutrition counseling to offer a holistic and luxurious 5 days of ultimate self care.
7. Ski the steeps. A huge perk of skiing with an instructor? She'll know after about ten turns what terrain you can ski, what terrain you can't ski, and what terrain you should ski in order to improve at your edge. If steeps have you shakin' in your boots, a women's clinic specializing in high aspect slopes is a great option for getting feedback on how to shift your technique to slay the steeps. Doing so with other women and with a professional instructor offers two perks here: you'll learn from watching the other students, and rest easy knowing that a qualified teacher will take you to your edge, but not beyond. (Translation: you won't end up side-stepping down a black diamond trail that you guessed you could handle).
Top Pick: The Keen Rippin' Chix Ski Camps, located at various resorts across the West, offer no-frills instruction on big mountain skiing: learn to hop pillow lines, straight-line chutes, and carve down the steepest of the steeps.