You probably know her. The one who arranges the trips, gets the kids to ski-school, makes the reservations, cooks the meals, and who pretty much just makes sure everyone is having a good time. Maybe this woman is you? Or maybe she is your mom, wife, or girlfriend. Needless to say, she spends the majority of her time on family outings, behind the scenes, orchestrating the details to create an unforgettable experience. While she ensures that everyone is having fun, why not let her have a little fun herself? Until now, there hasn’t been an opportunity for her to experience the ski slopes on her terms, under the conditions that still allow her to be the vacation planner/mom/wife/etc., but Vail resorts has a new program, tailored specifically to her needs, that will make her experience on the slopes just as grand as the rest of the fam’s.
The Women’s Ultimate Four, a new product being offered by Vail resorts, combines the individual attention of a private ski lesson while being closer to the price of a group lesson, allowing women to experience the joy of skiing amongst the comfort of other women. The lesson is offered as a half day, with no more than four students (all at similar ski levels), one instructor; and all female. Vail has invested in training and developing instructors specifically for this product to ensure that not only skill and technique are addressed, but that the psychological hurdles that specifically prevent women from learning to ski are also addressed in a positive and encouraging way.
I am one of these women. I am new to skiing, this being only my fourth season, and while I have been lucky enough to have a very compassionate and patient husband, even he has his limits, and at some point a professional is needed. While I have enjoyed learning and growing in the sport, the intimidation and fear involved can be one of the most challenging aspects to overcome and this is what makes the Women’s Ultimate Four so unique. I have experienced group and private lessons over the past four years and by far the most valuable teaching moments were the ones in a private lesson, with focused attention, given by a female instructor. Of course, this comes with a pretty hefty price-tag. On the flip-side, in group lessons, I have found that by not being the best or worst in the group, I simply get lost among the crowd and I also tend to feel guarded when being taught by a male instructor. These are of course my issues, but how great to have a program tailored to help me, and other women like me. This program is designed to create a safe place for beginning and intermediate female skiers to address challenges and intimidation in a respectful, compassionate, and above all playful environment.
As the designated “planner” on our ski vacations, I have found myself on many trips, hiding behind the responsibilities of the planning, care-taking, etc. in order to avoid pushing myself on the slopes by stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting a little scared. But I am also acutely aware that this prevents me from getting better and being comfortable is certainly not going to make me a better skier. These choices also lead to a small amount of guilt and feelings of self-disappointment. However, when I met with the instructor for my Ultimate Four experience, I was pleasantly surprised by not only the instruction, but by the conversation around how to mentally engage in the sport in a sustainable way. The program is designed to maximize learning, with equal amounts of goal setting, comfort zone pushing, and confidence boosting activities, keeping the balance of challenge and comfort in check. I came away from my lesson with practical tools and a tangible sense of what I need to work on both physically and mentally. With a small arson of drills and a handful of mental “pep-talks” I finished my day with a sense of pride, much more confidence, and above all I became a better skier and that is absolutely priceless.
The Women’s Ultimate Four is currently being offered on select dates and at select resorts for the 2014-15 ski season. For more information go to vail.com.