We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 W2W Hilaree Nelson Scholarship Program. In its’ 3rd year, we are seeing more and more women aspiring to leadership roles with the goal to create space and bring other women along into the sport of skiing. We are excited to help them in their pursuits and for them to carry Hilaree’s torch for future generations of women.
France offered a 5-day backcountry camp led by Anena (Association Nationale pour l’Étude de la Neige et des Avalanches), Lead the Climb and Aurelia Lanoe to six deserving women. The goal was to educate them on skiing in the backcountry, make safe decisions, and gain the confidence to be a leader for women and possibly pursue a profession in the ski and mountaineering world.
Skiing has always been a part of my life: my dad and my brother are both ski instructors, my mother is a very good skier and my sister rebelled by deciding to snowboard. Skiing is an integral part of who I am. I think I knew how to ski before I could walk. Above all, it is a sport that has taught me humility and perseverance in the face of the elements, which are the only true masters of the mountain.
Like in climbing, I would like to be autonomous and confident enough to be able to take friends with me while leading the way out. I am often limited in my outings with girl friends or relatives because no one can accompany us. So, we settle for the edges of the slopes if we are alone and it is frustrating. With this course, I would like to be able to aim further and acquire good confidence in myself and to open the way for the women around me.
Ski touring, and more generally high mountain activities, is for me a necessary reconnection to nature. In 2020, when the ski lifts were closed, I discovered a new practice in complete autonomy (without lifts) in the Queyras with friends and family and a night at the unguarded refuge Matteo Corrandini (2900m). After some mountaineering in summer, it was an opening towards new perspectives to be autonomous in virgin and immaculate places.
My desire is to train myself to the autonomy in high mountain to be able to lead the organization of outings and mapping of itineraries in ski touring, on several days, with good conditions of security and being able to assure the good reactions in case of difficulties (avalanches, falls, injuries). In the medium term, I am considering training as a mountain rescuer because I want to be in the mountains more permanently, while having a role in mountain rescue.
My mother took me skiing for the first time at La Croix Fry when I was 3 years old. She wanted to give me the chance to learn to ski even though she and my father did not ski. It was the best time of the year for me. There weren't many people in this little resort in April but I remember the kids coming to ski on Wednesdays. They were so lucky to live in the mountains and not in a London suburb... 26 years later, the world was hit by Covid. The time was right. Without too much thought, and thanks to telecommuting, I left London for Chamonix. For the past 2 years, I have been building a new life here, closer to nature, where I keep learning new things!
Making quick decisions is one of the most difficult things in the mountains. Through this course I hope to improve my knowledge on several levels to be able to make better decisions before and during trips and help my friends to do the same.
Besides the fact that skiing allowed my parents to meet, skiing is a necessary moment of escape. It's where I find my family and is something we share. It as a constant in the face of changes and evolutions. Skiing and being in the mountains have made me evolve personally by bringing me a very different relationship with nature: learning humility through renunciation, feeling the sensation of freedom offered by these great spaces, being amazed by the observation of what surrounds us. This is irreplaceable. This is why I fight to avoid the destruction of these environments through my activism, my studies, my hobbies... If I am so sensitive to the environment, it is precisely because I am a skier. Because the feeling of sliding, of making tracks, of slaloming between fir trees, to link the bumps is indescribable and irreplaceable. Skiing and being in the mountains are necessary for my balance.
The mountain and skiing can be a way of appeasement and growth. This training course would allow me to discover a different way of skiing to my close relations and to share this passion with others, by going further towards this passion of the off-piste and the ski differently (La Grave). I also think that being a woman who can lead a group has a positive impact on a small scale, by showing everyone that there are many ways to be happy, and to open up the field of possibilities by decreasing the limiting injunctions of gender.
I have been skiing since I could walk. It is a time to share experiences first with my family, then with my friends. In recent years, I am more and more aware of the impact of ski resorts on the mountain. I have done a lot of ski touring, and I have discovered another aspect of the mountain. The silence, the landscapes, and the importance of preserving this environment.
During these outings I was faced with a shocking observation: 90% of my fellow skiers are men. Few of my female friends take up ski touring. And I, I follow the group without asking myself too many questions. I want the situation to change and to be able to have knowledge and competence to be autonomous in ski touring, to be able to motivate my friends to come with us and share all that I have learned.
I discovered skiing 'late', having grown up in Burgundy, far from the mountains with non-sporting parents. When I was in high school it was a Christmas present to ski in Contamines Montjoie! It was a revelation. My uncle made me read several mountain masterpieces at that time. It was decided. When I grow up, I will live in the mountains, whatever it takes. 10 years later, I am a pure Genoese cliché, and blossoming especially in my sporting life...
I started ski touring in 2017 and I hardly go skiing in resorts anymore. Except for when avalanche conditions are too risky. But I feel I'm stagnating; I lead but not enough to my taste. I would like to move to a new stage. I would like to be able to say 'yes, when you want' to the question 'when are you going to take me ski touring?' to my male/female beginners. I would like to feel legitimate to share my knowledge in snow conditions, choice of itineraries, etc., and to be more confident when I accept to take on the role of leader.
I was born in the Alps, skiing and snowboarding have always been part of my life since I was a little girl, as something quite normal. It was only when I moved to the ocean and away from the Alps that I realized what a privilege it was to grow up in such an environment and to feel naturally at ease with it. Today I am passionate about surfing and getting to know the ocean, and this learning reminds me of how lucky I was to grow up in another in another element just as magical.
I have many women skiers around me who would like to start ski touring but don't dare to take the step. I would like to be able to organize an outing with them in complete safety, to make them discover and appreciate this practice.
Austria and Germany offered spots at the Blizzard Tecnica sponsored Sporting Women Winter Camp in Montafon, AUT, where women can learn freeride and backcountry skills to further enhance their knowledge and confidence.
Sporting Women Winter Camp
Skiing gives me strength and energy for my life and that is the main reason why skiing is my passion. Skiing gives me everything, I am free, I feel good and slowly I am ready to go further to train and to set new goals!
Women on skis. We are many but we can be even more. Many women think they cannot or do not have the self-confidence to get out and ski. I want to change that! I want to motivate women to do what they want to do!
Sporting Women Winter Camp
Skiing is one of my passions, along with yoga. I have enjoyed skiing since the age of three, but since the winter season 2017/2018 I have been infected by the ski virus. I'm a ski instructor in the winter and do sports and yoga all year round so I can have even more fun in the mountains in the winter. In this respect, my love for skiing shapes my whole personality and life.
I am not only a passionate skier/ski instructor, but also a passionate yogi/yoga teacher. One of my goals is to strengthen the ski community through yoga, not only physically but also in mindset. During my skiing career, I have observed that, despite many commendable progressive movements and mindsets, women are seen as weaker. Despite this, a strong mindset helped me to continue working on my goals. Hilaree is a woman who clearly demonstrated that passion knows no gender and she gave hope to other women. Everyone (and therefore also every woman) can achieve everything he/she wants, if you believe in yourself and then go step by step towards your goal. This is what I would like to pass on.
Sporting Women Winter Camp
Skiing/freeriding/ski touring means pure passion and pleasure for me. Winter is my absolute favorite season, and I am happy when the first snow falls. Nature comes to rest, everything becomes quieter, and the mountains look even more impressive. Drawing the first lines, either on the slopes or in the first powder, gives me absolute satisfaction and joy to have that flow feeling again. In the spring, I look forward to the first high-altitude ski tours, whether on the 3000’ers or a long-distance trip.
Since I am a mental coach, it is close to my heart to motivate other people to be courageous. Women have less confidence in themselves than they should. It is also important to me to educate others more about avalanches and how dangerous it can be (even in the ski area) to be skiing without safety equipment. This winter I was in Val Thorens and there were so many people off-piste without avalanche safety equipment and that shocked me a lot.
We have awarded scholarship dollars and a Blizzard ski and a Tecnica ski boot to women looking to advance their education in the ski industry from ski instructor certification to enhancing boot fitting skills. These women have shown a passion for skiing and for bringing other women along.
AAI Professional Avalanche Search and Rescue
I was born in Iowa but grew up skiing in Colorado. Keeping up with my brother provided me with a sense of accomplishment and instilled a sort of "grit" I still employ today. In adulthood, I took skiing to a new level and made it my career. Ski patrolling for 13 years and avalanche forecasting for the highways in Colorado has allowed me to be a professional in the avalanche community. Now, as a Snow Safety Tech at Aspen Highlands, I am one of six women on patrol and the only one in the snow safety department. I provide much-needed mentorship to the less experienced women on our patrol and others interested in avalanche and snow science.
At Aspen Highlands, most of our operations are in avalanche terrain. While a large-scale rescue scenario is a distinct possibility within the ski area, we are also seeing an increase in the number of public accessing side-country and out-of-bounds terrain where rescue needs are increasing. As a member of our small, 5-person snow safety team, I would utilize this advanced education in the case of an avalanche rescue both in and out of bounds and help mentor and educate others on our patrol. This continuing education would benefit our patrol and the skiing public in our community.
Adaptive Alpine Level 1 Certification
Growing up in the mountains, the love of the sport was instilled in me by the time I was learning to walk. When I was eleven, I was introduced to my town’s adaptive sports program. After learning the mission of the program, I quickly came to realize that nothing was impossible. From that day forward, I was determined to continue volunteering as a ski instructor for individuals with disabilities. When I am on the mountain with a student, I am surrounded by so much joy, love, and gratitude. I am constantly overwhelmed with the feeling that each day, I can make a difference in someone’s life, even if it’s small.
I have been a volunteer ski instructor for the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program for nine years. Today, I am still instructing and have gained a lot of knowledge from experience and from being able to work alongside incredible and inspiring co-instructors and mentors. I have become more dedicated and eager to further my skill sets and knowledge about therapeutic recreation. By obtaining my Adaptive Alpine Level 1 Certification, I will be able to take the next step in my education by gaining more specific knowledge and resources about adaptive skiing. I want to continue to grow and learn as a person and instructor so I can further my passion of helping create a more inclusive and accessible ski environment.@cassidycraige
National Adaptive Academy
As a Black woman I never really saw myself as a skier. It was not until I got a place near Belleayre Mountain that my then four-year-old daughter got bit by the ski bug and in turn so did I. As she spent days in ski camp, I took lessons. At the age of 47, I never thought I could really learn to ski. But with the supportive direction of a female instructor, who suggested that I start teaching, it changed winter for me. That was five years ago. So, every Friday I pack up my daughter and head out of Manhattan to upstate New York, where I have my other life, my outdoor life. Where I advocate for people of color to be outdoors and for equity and inclusion in winter sports. It has made me see a whole other side of winter.
The outdoors is wonderful and magical and skiing gives you a sense of freedom found in few other places. As a woman of color, I want to help bring the magic and wonder to more people and make it more accessible, and that is why I feel it is so important to have instructors that are knowledgeable in every facet of skiing. Attending the Adaptive Academy will allow me to gain the skills needed to help a community I was not adequately trained to help before.
Level 3 training and certification
Skiing helped me learn to be confident in myself and in my teaching. I first began instructing at Mission Ridge Ski at the age of 14; I loved it. Seeing someone's eyes light up when they learn and gain confidence is extremely rewarding. Teaching skiing ultimately led me to pursue my education degree. As a teacher, I continued ski instructing, and now live and teach in Montana. Currently residing on the Flathead Indian Reservation, I have spent many a winter day teaching kids how to slide on snow for the first time at the local ski hill, Blacktail Mountain. A mom of five, being a ski instructor has also allowed for my own family of seven to regularly ski, learn, and make memories together, which has been an invaluable blessing.
I'm grateful to the Blizzard/Tecnica W2W Scholarship fund, as it will allow me to gain higher certification for myself that I will in turn use for the development of instructor training at Blacktail Mountain. My current role at Blacktail includes coordinating weekly training and certification education for the Blacktail Snowsports School, as well as curating a curriculum for a new junior instructor mentoring program. By training instructors to the best of their abilities, this will allow for more skill and longevity in our staff, which will ultimately help more kids in our community enjoy the freedom and confidence found when sliding on snow!
AIARE L2 Big Mountain Course
Skiing has taught me how to love, how to remain true to myself, and has shaped me into the person I am today. Skiing at its core is a form of self-expression. I grew up as alpine ski racer and it remains the greatest gift of my life. I questioned my passion for standing in a start gate on many occasions, but I never questioned my love for the act of sliding over snow. Racing helped me redefine my limits, develop my work ethic, learn how to get hurt and how to put myself back together. But it wasn’t until leaving the sport that I was able to lean into my queerness and realize that skiing gives me the freedom to be the most honest and brightest version of myself.
I will use this program to continue my education so I can push my own limits and help those around me push theirs. I believe community impact happens one connection at a time and my aim is to develop honest and positive connections to get people who may not think they have a place in the ski community, to feel inspired and to feel themselves in the mountains. I want to be able to set an example for other women and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. I plan to use the knowledge and the skill set I have learned to share the joy of skiing and give others a safe space to expand their comfort zones’ and be entirely themselves in the mountains.
Bootdoc Boot Fitting Education Course
Skiing is the only thing I have ever loved to do by myself, with friends, or in the company of strangers. It is an activity in which community is inherent. When I was 20 years old, I unknowingly gave my life to skiing. I fell into a community that accepted and supported me right out of the gate. I quickly realized that I find great joy in helping people have fun safely outside.
When I started boot fitting two years ago, I began to recognize the unspoken demand for female professionals in the snow sports industry. I think for most women, having another female manage the discomforts and insecurities that can come along with boot fitting is vital. With this scholarship I hope to further my education in boot fitting to better serve the women in my community and get more women on the snow.
Skiing has been my gateway to backcountry travel and decision making in extreme environments. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder, and I research human spaceflight. I began backcountry skiing concurrently with researching how to make sending humans to the most extreme environment of all, outer space, safer. Specifically, I work on pilot perception and answering the question of “what can we give our human crew to help their decision making in extreme environments?” Skiing in the backcountry has forced me to make critical decisions regarding risk management, partner rescue and self-rescue. My lived experience of managing risk and critical decision making has allowed me to better design experiments around decision making in extreme environments. Skiing, specifically in the backcountry, has shaped my PhD and, ultimately, my career direction.
I am involved with formally mentoring high school students and underrepresented college seniors who are interested in STEM. I have enjoyed past STEM outreach activities including giving a TEDx talk and mentoring the many undergraduate researchers that I work with. I plan to continue to gain experience in the backcountry and hope to serve as a mentor for underrepresented people who are interested in backcountry travel much like I have done in my primary career. I am honored to use the Hilaree Nelson scholarship to take the next step towards becoming an avalanche educator myself. I hope that by pursuing part-time work as an avalanche educator I can be a role model for underrepresented groups.
American Avalanche Institute Pro I
Skiing has transformed my life. It is my rock - the steady foundation that has fueled my values. It’s my source of confidence and the vehicle for hyping up others. Through skiing, I find my closest community. It’s where I learned determination, to seek challenge to grow, and that all things are better with a team, even if you can do it perfectly fine on your own - this is likely the most profound impact of a single sport on my fiercely independent soul.
I am wildly grateful to show up each day to a male-dominated career where women are respected and given every opportunity to succeed. However, there is not a single female on our current patrol who has had the opportunity to earn her Pro I. This certification is a gateway to becoming a route leader and would put a female in a position where only men reside now. We have lost so many incredible females because they don’t see anyone who looks like them making decisions about ski cuts, explosives, opening new terrain, etc. I want to be that person. I dream of mentoring new patrollers, of leading routes with more women on my team, of going out on the weekends with friends and discussing a snow pit profile. This certification will help me boldly pave a path within my community for women to do badass things and thrive within them.@kate_rath
PSIA National Academy
A passion for sliding down mountains opened a world of amazing adventures to me. Choices on where to live, what to study, how to raise my kids, which activities to pursue during the off-season and what to prioritize in life all have roots in this passion. I’m grateful to have been able to leave my job as an environmental consultant to create a career in the snow sports industry as the Head Coach of Solitude’s Freeride and Big Mountain programs. After years of hard work, I have achieved PSIA L3 Alpine, L200 IFSA, AASI L1 Snowboard, AIARE 2 and USSS certifications. I believe an educational foundation is everything for strong skiing, coaching and situational awareness in the mountains. Learning about the snow, weather, terrain, technique, gear, and the possibilities on snow is infinite and an obsession that has determined the trajectory of my life.
The intent is to attend National Academy to ski with and learn from the best in the industry and then bring back expertise to continue strengthening the technical and human balance of our programs. Providing leadership to encourage instructors and coaches to reach their potential no matter their gender or age is the goal. In a sport and industry where women have historically been the minority, I truly believe female skiers have serious strengths that contribute to the sport and am thankful for the chance to help aspiring instructors, coaches and athletes find these strengths within themselves and help elevate the status of women in snow sports.
AMGA Alpine Skills/Ski Guide Track
Learning to backcountry ski and navigate the mountains has taught me how to be a good partner and communicator, both on snow and off. One of the strengths I think women possess, especially in backcountry skiing, is the ability to express doubt and seek out answers when we’re unsure. As a young woman in a male dominated environment, sometimes expressing uncertainty can be viewed as a lack of experience, especially when male counterparts often (but not always!) speak first and with confidence. But willingness to let others be the expert, setting aside our egos and asking for help, is really when we learn the most, and allows us to manage our risk more effectively. Backcountry skiing has helped me take pride in those feelings of uncertainty. To realize that asking for help is a skill, and one that makes me a better partner.
Throughout my path over the last 12 years of backcountry skiing I’ve experienced plenty of feelings of self-doubt—the need to prove myself, intimidation while being surrounded by so many confident male partners—and I often think back to those first formative years of learning from female guides, patrollers, and educators I looked up to. That supportive foundation that nudged me into this space brings me confidence and helps me keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when it’s hard. That experience has helped me understand just how important it is to provide other women with that same foundation, to create a space that not only allows them to learn, but demonstrates that yes, there is a place for them, and they can be leaders too. This scholarship will allow me to start the AMGA process to become a ski guide and educator in the Tetons and continue the cycle of the mentorship that has been gifted to me.
AIARE 1 Avalanche Education Course
Skiing provides me with unlimited opportunities to challenge myself, time to be outside in nature, and allows me to connect with other people while doing something I love. Leading the Women’s Program tours for Inclusive Ski Touring lets me bring like-minded people together to forge new friendships, spread the love of ski touring, and fills me with pride and joy as I see the transformation of women’s confidence in their ability. Through skiing I have discovered my strengths and found passion in serving as a leader engaging and supporting other women in the outdoors.
With the support of this scholarship, I intend to expand Inclusive Ski Touring’s Intro to Backcountry Programs to offer special Women only dates. Our new Intro to Backcountry Program, which is partnered with local professional guides, is meant to serve as an introductory course designed to provide the tools needed to get out in the backcountry safely while encouraging continued education. As a leader for the existing women’s program hosted on-piste at a local ski resort, I would like to advance my backcountry safety education and experience so that I am able to expand the Intro to Backcountry program and serve as a knowledgeable, responsible Inclusive Ski Touring leader for women.
MasterFit Associates Plus scholarship
As a third-generation ski shop owner, I have spent most of my life in the ski industry. I grew up ski racing on the local slopes at Montage Mountain, before controversially switching over to snowboarding in the mid-nineties. My passion for the sport even carried into my wedding where my husband and I got married at a slope side chapel in Stowe, VT. Over the years, my participation in snow sports has increased my overall confidence and appreciation for nature. That is why I am now a mom-on-a-mission to share my passion for the outdoors and to help make these activities accessible for everyone, especially women, children, and those with special needs.
As the only second-generation, woman-owned ski shop in the country, I am proud to say that Ski Shack employs more than 70 percent women —which is a rarity in this male-dominated industry. I plan to use the W2W scholarship to attend the Masterfit University Boot Fitting Certification program to expand my shop’s boot-fitting capabilities and services. I have been boot-fitting at Ski Shack for over 15 years, but this certification will help further extend my knowledge and establish credibility in this industry. My goal is to educate and empower people to make more informed decisions about their skiing purchases so they can have more confidence on the mountain, because more confidence equals more fun!@SkiShackSports
PSIA National Academy
Skiing has significantly impacted my life, allowing me to witness the majestic beauty of many ski destinations. I am a founding board member of Thrillseekers, Inc., where I organized ski trips to Killington Resort in Vermont, taught and promoted skiing. I taught my son how to ski when he was 1, and he had his first formal lesson at Snowbird at 2 1/2. I was proud to observe my 3-year-old African American son, fearlessly ski down a blue run at Copper Mountain, Colorado, and later become an Alpine Ski Racer. I groomed him and his friend to become certified PSIA ski instructors at 16 years old and the "Pied Pipers" of skiing for many children. My family teaches at the Youth Enrichment Services (Y.E.S.) ski camp in New Hampshire. Some children had never seen snow, but they grew to love skiing in one weekend. I also taught children through a Black Ski Inc. camp at Liberty Mountain Resort.
I am on a mission to continue to develop and fine-tune my skiing and teaching abilities so that I can successfully earn my PSIA Alpine Level 2 certification. Reaching this milestone will propel my confidence as a relevant female, African American ski educator in a male-dominated sport. Additional training from elite skiers on PSIA's National Team, who set the standards for the ski industry, will equip me with the skills and knowledge to inspire other women to push themselves beyond their limits as I aspire to do. This program will facilitate my ability to accomplish this goal.
AMGA 5 Day Alpine Skills Course
I am a Sociology PhD Candidate at UNC Chapel Hill, health disparities researcher and ski mountaineer. I grew up in Claremont, CA with brief stints in Islamabad, Pakistan. Straddling two vastly different social, cultural, environmental, and geopolitical contexts influences how I move through this world, especially as a skier and mountain sports enthusiast.
After nearly a decade of backcountry skiing, hiking, running, mountain biking, and climbing in the US and Pakistan, I have worked hard to create a relationship with the outdoors and mountain sports that is joyful, supportive, and centers belonging and communities of care. I am passionate about supporting mountain sports in Pakistan so Pakistanis can lead in the exploration and development of their own mountains and evolving the snowsports industry in the US to support and foster athletes who have been structurally marginalized in these spaces. I hope to continue creating and supporting spaces and outdoor communities where everyone can experience the outdoors as spaces of healing and thriving rather than exclusion and isolation.@nafeesa_andrabi
Level 2 certification and CS Level 1
As a kid who grew up in India and Nigeria, I never imagined I would be skiing or teaching skiing as an adult!! I LOVE being out there on the snow, I love that my kids and their friends get inspired to try skiing too, and love teaching other adults to experience snow in a safe and fun way, like I did. Skiing makes me feel inspired and empowered.
Investing in my personal development as a skier and instructor, will allow me to help teach more adults who have never stepped on snow to experience skiing, and provide “see it, be it” moments to inspire a diverse community of youth into the sport. I am so proud that few of the ethnically diverse kids who were my students are now trying out for race teams this season and continuing to train with me. I want to be able to ski and teach at a level that I can help all of them as they progress, and develop snowsports programs that reach a broader demographic and show that it can be done!
We have awarded scholarship dollars and a Blizzard ski and a Tecnica ski boot to women looking to advance their education in the ski industry from ski instructor certification to enhancing boot fitting skills. These women have shown a passion for skiing and for bringing other women along.
CADS (Canadian Adaptive Snowsports) L1 Exam
It's been an opportunity for me to constantly push and challenge myself beyond anything I believed was possible. I was born with congenital hip dysplasia. Between the ages of 4-17, I had over a dozen operations and spent a good amount of time in a wheelchair. I still really enjoyed skiing with my friends and family, but typically found myself back at square one at the start of every season after surgery and losing a lot of strength/muscle memory. Despite this, I was met with an unbelievable amount of patience and compassion from my instructors. Despite obvious differences, skiing was a way for me to connect with people and an opportunity to be something beyond what I was experiencing at the time.
The impact skiing has had on my life has been immeasurable – overcoming a unique set of obstacles was a significant physical and mental challenge. The absence of an obvious role model/mentor to whom I could genuinely relate constantly forced me to question my own ability. I would hate to see so many talented women take the much slower winding road because they questioned their own ability, or didn’t feel ready, confident, or experienced enough. I see this as a chance for me to extend my education and capacity to include women that may otherwise not have access to the snow sports community. Diversity and inclusion fuel innovation and innovation is what has and will keep the ski industry alive. I want to be a visual for women with disabilities - future ski instructors/ski patrollers/athletes and any lovers of skiing.
AVALANCHE INCIDENT MANAGEMENT
I grew up in a small town in Northern Alberta and we were fortunate enough to have a little ski hill there! I learned to ski and snowboard at a young age, and I would take the bus out on weekends to get some laps in! While most of my friends went on tropical vacations when we were younger, my family always took us to the Alberta Rockies for skiing instead, and we loved it! I didn’t plan on making a career in the Ski Industry, but when I got a “temporary” seasonal job during COVID at a skill hill, my whole life changed! I can honestly say I’m one of those lucky people who loves their job!
I love teaching, training, and helping my fellow co-workers learn everything about first aid but I am still learning about avalanche safety. I've recently gotten into the avalanche side of things which is very useful for my job, and I have recently completed my CAA OPS 1. As a manager I now have the responsibility to care for mountain guests and the mountain employees to be safe in avalanche terrain at our resort. This program would help me be able to lead the team better in case of an avalanche at the resort, and in backcountry terrain while skiing with friends or fellow touring groups. The more women we can get involved in the ski world, the better!
Avalanche Operations Level 1
My life and skiing are intertwined, ever since my first experience bombing the bunny hill numerous times as a 7-year-old, I was, from then on, filled with dreams of skiing big snow-capped peaks and living in the mountains. Dreams have become reality as I am now based in Canmore, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies. Skiing connected me to my own strength and resilience when I struggled in my early 20’s. It centered me and reminded me to follow what made me happy. While learning to ski tour in New Zealand, I looked back to admire my turns, like art on a blank canvas, and I knew then that this was my love of skiing transformed anew.
The professional education in avalanche safety would allow me to offer valuable skills to organizations like the Open Mountains Project, a non-profit based out of Revelstoke, that works towards creating an inclusive mountain culture. I will continue to disrupt the given narrative by moving through the world as a queer, non-binary person of color and to uplift others inside as well as outside of the communities I am a part of through work, volunteer and recreational contexts. I will re-imagine with folks, through active participation and learning, what an inclusive mountain space looks like, and empower them to bring this sense of belonging and playfulness that welcomes all their being, whatever their body shape, ability, and other identities, into their outdoor activities with others.
CSIA Level 4 Academy Camp 3, Ski Exam and Teach Exam
Skiing has impacted where I live, what I do for a living, how I structure my seasons, who I love, and why I get up in the morning. The mountains are my livelihood, playground, and home. They provide solace in times of struggle and amplify joy in moments of triumph. Sliding on snow facilitates friendship, courage, and adventure in nature. Skiing is fun and hilarious, but it can also be intimidating. I am definitely not fearless. Skiing has taught me how to be brave, how to learn, how to play, and how to lead. I live my life in the mountains because I love skiing and feel happy and fulfilled when I am on snow.
I intend to use the W2W program to keep supporting diversity in the outdoors. Succeeding in Level 4 Academy will allow me to progress through the CSIA examiner pathway and help ski instructors advance their certifications and careers. Continuing to mentor informally and through CSIA Women in Skiing will help develop and empower women on snow. Combining increasing backcountry awareness with my parallel career as a paramedic and wilderness first aid instructor will enable me to keep sharing knowledge that helps people stay safe in the mountains. On snow and off, I intend to positively impact my community by listening to and advocating for women, coaching for inclusive professional and recreational programs, and engaging the support of allies who believe in women and help us grow.
CSIA Level 3 Teacher Development and Skier Development Course
Skiing has given me the opportunity to travel to countries I had never explored, train with inspiring people, and teach a range of folks from different social and ethnic backgrounds. As a ski instructor I like to spread my passion, encourage folks of all ages and abilities, and build trusting relationships with my clients.
I would like to start LGBTQ2S+ ski days at Sunshine Village, Banff National Park. There are groups in the Bow Valley which strive to break down barriers for anyone who has experienced gendered oppression. However, currently there is not a safe space within the skiing community. As a member of the queer community, I would love to create a space where people can comfortably explore their limits, bond with like-minded individuals, and build long lasting friendships. By completing the CSIA level 3 courses, I will refine my skiing skills, as well as further develop my teaching tactics. I hope to use my training and experiences while teaching members of the community during the LGBTQ2S+ ski days.