The energy at Expedition Kirkwood is crackling with excitement on a Saturday in March as over fifteen instructors gear up for their Saturday JETS kid’s ski program while a crowd of thirty women gather for the annual 2-day women’s ski clinic. Women feel empowered and return repeatedly to this mountain and especially Expedition Kirkwood clinics. One skier, Alusha, has been participating for over a dozen years and as “a skier I grew up in this clinic. Though the coaching and building of trust in the coaches and myself it has turned me into the skier I am today!” She told me she loves being part of this weekend of learning among women and having her boundaries pushed.
Marisa, another participant, started skiing this season and wanted to make rapid progress. She chose this program because her friends did not ski and here she could ski with other women. Stefanie signed up so that she could get to the next level and be able to ski with her friends. Several of the women wanted to improve so that they can keep up with their kids on the slopes! Teodora signed up to improve so that she can meet her goal to helicopter ski in the next two seasons. Whatever your skill level, you will be challenged to improve and have a team of support. You will ski better, harder, faster and beyond all your expectations!
The instructors for the Women’s Clinic are incredible and have decades of experience teaching. Amy McCormick, coordinator and member of the K2 Alliance, has been working with ski teams and women’s clinics at Kirkwood for over twenty years. She told me she is "changing women’s lives one turn at a time.” Sandra Smith, who has been working with women and skiing for twenty-seven years said: “I love taking women to places they did not think they could go, watching them improve and seeing the camaraderie in the group cheering each other on.” It was fantastic to participate with the amazing women in the group and learn from the tremendous coaching team.
The women were divided into small groups and then developed personal goals and shared what brought her to this unique learning experience. Coaches then had a clear understanding of skill level and expectations and were able to inspire all of us to ski beyond our imagined boundaries. Everyone tackled new terrain or gained confidence in conditions that they would not attempt on their own. The group encouraged each person to keep striving for more as we improved our fundamentals with new skills and techniques.
One of the best parts of the clinic was having video footage from our skill assessment and then additional filming at the end of the day after training and testing out new skills. We analyzed our videos as a group. Watching yourself ski and being given specific feedback is essential for rapid progress.
Before our second day of the clinic, there was an overnight storm which meant we were snow in and the coaches were snowed out. When Chair 5 was dug out and in operation, I skied with Teodora and Alusha from the groups above me the day before. They led us through the white-out conditions to the trees and fresh powder. Dulce, Karen and I greatly appreciated their guidance and we had an epic day together.
Matthew Keith, Expedition Kirkwood’s Program Coordinator, told me how much he loves the women’s clinics! The participants make giant strides in their skiing and women get a chance to work at their own pace. Working with so many different programs, he has seen that: “Men and women learn differently. In the women’s clinic, women can achieve at their own pace and there is no showboating at all. The clinic is all about progression, connection and camaraderie.”
Whether you snowboard or ski, the unique combination of back country access inbounds at this mountain will have you agreeing that there is joy in missing out (JOMO). This rustic place may not have an all-night bar scene, luxury accommodation or a plethora of restaurants to choose from, but it does have heart and incredible skiing.
In addition to the women’s clinic, Expedition Kirkwood has half day classes to intensive multi-day camps including Avalanche Certification Courses, Discovery Series Clinics, Cat Tours, Private Guides and specialty ski & board clinics and the kids, Junior Expedition Team (JETS).
As Kirkwood Mountain is rated a Class A Avalanche area, many people want access to back country skiing and hiking but need training on how to do so safely. In 2007, Expedition Kirkwood was created to teach people AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) curriculum to learn to explore the best terrain and feel comfortable in the ever-changing environment.
I highly recommend the women’s clinic and plan to come back again. My technical skills are better than I think and my lack of confidence keeps me from harder terrain. Being surrounded by strong women who are ready for more encouraged me to ski in the trees or steep powder something the month before I would have simply said was much too challenging for me. Thank you Expedition Kirkwood and the team of coaches and students for an inspiring weekend!
Do you want the tools to attack variable terrain and feel comfortable skiing anything? Do you want to learn in a professional setting filled with camaraderie? It is time to sign up for the Expedition Kirkwood Women’s Clinic. There is one more single day clinic on April 1, 2017 or begin planning for next ski season.
Where to stay: I stayed at The Mountain Club and my room had a full kitchen, couch, fireplace, balcony and murphy bed. My view was of chair 10, sunrise and was just above the hot tub.
Where to eat: The 2-day women’s clinic included breakfast and lunch both days as well as a happy hour party on Saturday night with a raffle to win ski prizes. I ate dinner each night at The Wall.
What to ski: I rented my skis from the Demo Center on the mountain. I skied Blizzard’s Black Pearl and loved them. I tried out both the Solomon XPro 90 and the Atomic . The Solomon boots were very responsive and quite stiff. I felt more comfortable on Day 2 in fresh powder up to my knees in the trees with the Atomic Hawk 80.
How to sign up: Contact Expedition Kirkwood and get ready for the Women's Clinic on April 1, 2017.
Lisa Niver has been skiing since she was a little girl but this was her first ski clinic and first time skiing in Tahoe! She was invited to experience Expedition Kirkwood but all opinions are her own. See more of her adventures at We Said Go Travel and her videos with over one million views!
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