Women-only clinics aren’t new, of course, but if you’ve shied away, thinking gender-specific events focus too much on handholding and overcoming fear, take another look. These days, the aim is to help women achieve their highest level of performance, boosted by the camaraderie that comes when a group of adventurous gals skis together. Inspired to reach new heights this winter? These three local clinics will get you there.
For more than 30 years, Aspen Snowmass has offered these weekly, four-day clinics for intermediate-on-up skiers and snowboarders. Groups of four to five guests meet at Snowmass, then usually travel with their ski pros to Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain on other days. Most attendees aim to push themselves beyond their comfort level into ski terrain they normally wouldn’t try on their own, says instructor Barb Hurwitz, who coordinates the program. The ski school’s highest-certified female pros help skiers accomplish those goals. Bonus: the friendships that develop have led women to coordinate return visits and request the same instructor, too. aspensnowmass.com
Ski with Kim
Pioneering extreme skiing champ and former U.S. Ski Teamer Kim Reichhelm has long led some of the most popular women’s (and coed) clinics around, hosting them at various ski areas and in international destinations. This winter includes one at Aspen (Jan 11–14) for intermediates and experts looking to step up their skills. Reichhelm and two hand-selected ski school pros will lead three small groups, rotating among them to share expertise throughout the week. The immersive program includes skiing at Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Aspen Mountain, plus a lunch at Cloud Nine, a cross-country ski tour to dinner at the Pine Creek Cookhouse, après parties, and ski demos. skiwithkim.com
Leave the Boys Behind
Aspen Alpine Guides started its women’s program in 2014 with a backcountry hut trip led by female guides and has offered similar clinics ever since that focus on off-piste ski tactics and avalanche awareness, for beginners on up. This winter, due to Covid protocols, the outfitter offers its three-day recreational Level 1 women’s avalanche course (Feb 25–27) as daily sessions accessible from Aspen rather than at a backcountry hut. Courses include loaner Ortovox avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels. leavetheboysbehind.com
“Skiing begins with the feet,” says Aspen Snowmass ski pro Didi Lawrence, who teaches Women’s Edge clinics. Think ahead to how you want to place your feet before turning, particularly in moguls and steeps. Begin by feeling the ball of the foot and progressively moving to the arch. If you move too far back to the heels, your skis will move away from you and make it difficult to start that next turn.
Get The Gear
For aggressive skiers who like to charge the steeps, Elan’s Ripstick 102 W outshines many other women’s skis, with rock-solid stability at speed, excellent edge hold, and the ability to blast through variable snow. $650 at Hamilton Sports
The lightweight Cochise Pro W boot from Tecnica features an anatomically shaped, heat-moldable shell and liner and easy-to-use ski/walk mechanism (handy for hiking up Highland Bowl), while the 120 flex provides reliable support for the downhill. $700 at Cripple Creek Backcountry