Having just celebrated International Women’s Day and with the re-launch of the #ThisGirlCan campaign encouraging more women to take up sport, we got to thinking about women and snow sports. What ski training and courses are out there aimed specifically at women, and what makes them different? Here’s a look at five ‘women only’ ski courses we’ve heard good things about…
FREEFLO WOMEN’S SKI COURSES – TIGNES
FreeFlo offer courses aimed specifically at women and is run by Jocelyn Cockle (Floss) who now lives and works in Tignes. After 17 years of teaching skiing all over the world she really knows her stuff. Her courses are designed to offer female skiers the skills and the confidence to find their flow in the mountains, and to move from the pistes to off piste skiing. As well as in Tignes and Val d’Isere, FreeFlo also offer courses in the resorts of La Grave and St Foy.
Floss says, “Throughout my ski training I was rarely coached by women, and when I was I found myself more inspired and mentally on the same wavelength. From that moment I have always wanted to run women’s ski courses to pass on my experience, my passion for the backcountry, and to coach more women on how to enjoy the freedom of the mountains. “
Inspired to Ski offer a whole range of ski courses, including those aimed at women only. Held over three days in Morzine, France, the courses are run at specific ski levels, so women are always with skiers of similar ability. Groups are usually made up of six-seven skiers and an instructor and those attending receive two and a half days of instruction.
There is a selection of accommodation available so guests are able to book in to a hotel, or a chalet if they prefer to be in with a group. Courses run in Morzine each winter season in January and March. Even though they have been out for a few years, we really like Inspired to Ski’s ‘Pocket Instructor’ books, small enough to carry in your daypack and bring out for reading ski tips on the move!
The Ladies Ski Camp with British ski cross professional Emily Sarsfield is brilliant for intermediate skiers who want to be inspired by one of the best female skiers the UK has on the pro circuit.
Exploring the huge 3 Valleys area and with some yoga included in the course, after a week of skiing you will leave feeling strong and confident. This course is aimed specifically at intermediate ability skiers who are looking to progress.
Accommodation is in Chalet les Matines in Meribel. Course price £1295 (includes 20 hrs of tuition, daily yoga, chalet board, 3V lift pass and transfers).
There’s some last minute availability for this year’s April 2 departure.
Emily Sarsfield in action. Image courtesy of Dan Deckelbaum
SKI GODDESS SHORT COURSES – CHATEL
Based in Chatel, France, the ‘Ski Goddess’ 4-6 day courses, run throughout the season and are aimed specifically at women. The aim is to gain confidence and control and to work on technique through a combination of video analysis and instruction.
Katie from Ski Goddess is also qualified in Sophrology (the science of the mind in balance with the body) and this practice informs her teaching style. Katie also has an interest in psychology (especially women’s psychology), and biomechanics.
Ski Goddess also run courses combining yoga with ski, and we love the look of the free e-ski course – a series of exercises which Katie will send to you to practice before your ski holiday – sign us up!
If you can’t make it to the mountains or would like to train before a trip you can join a ladies only session every Monday and Wednesday morning at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. This is the perfect place to learn with like-minded women, either with a friend, or on your own. The Ladies Morning offers a friendly environment in which to develop new skills with qualified instructors taking small group lessons.
All Ladies Ski Mornings lessons run from 10.30am-12.30pm and include 2 hours of group instruction. Also covered are skis, snowboards, boots, helmets and poles, and a drink in The Lodge Bar & Kitchen. For more information, visit The Snow Centre website.
A week before the Easter holidays we decided to book a last minute spring skiing break. A combination of points saved on Avios and cheap flights on off-peak days and times made it all possible. Then an apartment with a flexible booking period sealed the deal, allowing us to secure five days and nights on the slopes.Having a godfather who lives in a ski resort gave us the perfect excuse to visit. We knew the snow was still excellent in the Alps and there was a clear five-day window.
So we arrived in Wengen by train from Basel airport, laden with Easter chocolates and all the kit needed for a short (ish) ski holiday. The ‘godfather’ conveniently has a ski rental shop (Ski Set Wengen) in the resort centre, so kitted up early doors on our first morning we were swiftly heading up the Mannlichen cable car for our first runs of the day.
The snow cover was still perfect and all but two chair lifts in the immediate area were open. Skiing down to Brandegg, on the way towards Grindelwald, the runs were soft and we were excited to see the blue run down to Grund train station was also open. This became our secret ski run – each of the three days we skied the Wengen/Grindelwald area, we managed to ski right down to the resort, despite the valley looking beautiful and green.
We’d hoped to connect over to ‘First’ above Grindelwald and try out the ‘First Flyer‘, a lift that carries you from ‘First’ to Schreckfeld, 50m above the ground and at speeds of up to 84 kmph, but unfortunately that ski area had closed – one for our next visit.
On our hottest and last day, the highest pistes below the Eigernordwand chair were corrugated and bone shattering at 9am. Down our secret run, otherwise known as no 22, the pistes were just softening by 10am and super quiet, we loved it!
This hot spell over the Easter holidays was brought by southerly winds, which dropped Saharan dust across much of the Alps; we didn’t have the dust but we did have some very strong winds.
Our fourth day found us rushing to catch the 8.24am train to take part in the Junior AICC races (Amateur Interclub Team Championships). We had discovered these were taking place during our stay, and along with another family we combined our children to make two teams.
The event this spring was supposed to be hosted by the Kandahar Ski Club in Murren, but some confusion over dates meant that the Wengen based English Ski Club, the DHO(Downhill Only Club) stepped in.
Having arrived by train to Kleine Scheidegg above Wengen, all 36 children signed up were ushered into the restaurant along with accompanying parents. Once there we were told that due to the winds, most of the lifts in the resort were closed and that the proposed route on the top section of the famous Lauberhorn run would have to be moved.
An hour later and 12 teams skied down to the ‘Bumps lift’ (except the Bumps T-bar lift had been packed away over a week previously). Each team skied a short GS course in teams of three, and between runs had to walk back up the course. It was a funny sight, but everyone helped each other with the older skiers carrying the younger ones’ skis back up the mountain.
It was great fun and for a day, which looked like it would be scuppered by bad winds, our children said it was one of the best days of their holiday. They made new friends and were made to feel welcome by the many regular young ski racers taking part.
Each year a different English ski club takes on the organisation, so the events move around Europe with amateur ski racing for both adults and juniors. Next year it’s being hosted in Alpbach… fancy signing up?