Editor’s Note: This post was written by Beth Santos, founder & CEO of Go Girl.
The last time I was in a pair of skis, my downhill instructor gifted me a piece of chocolate for courage, then snatched my poles and sent me down the slopes with my own balance to save me. It was the first day of skiing in my entire life, and I was 24 years old. It was exhilarating. It was exciting. And when I finally reached the base of the mountain, I promised that I would never touch another pair of skis again. My ski instructor, a “silver fox” type who had been skiing since before he could walk, proceeded to tell me that he concluded I was more of a mental risk-taker than a physical one.
Three years later, I’m in a car with three girlfriends. We’re inching along a very snowy road toward the Women’s Winter Tour, a weekend event held in the Traverse City, Michigan area, that aims to empower women to get outside, be adventurous, and support one another through cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and an endless supply of wine and desserts. The day’s activities supported a non-profit called Active Women Now. Given what we knew, the event seemed all-too-spectacular, and the Go Girl team was excited to check out what would await us.
Being one of the more “experienced” skiers in our group (as I mentioned above, I had one entire day’s worth of downhill skiing under my belt before arriving on the cross-country slopes), I imagined that there were only two things that were going to keep us alive that day: the incredible excitement of the pink-clad women wearing crazy hats and boas that seemed to surround us on all sides, and the fact that when we finished, we could devour as much chocolate as we wanted.
Yet when the day came to a close, it was cross-country itself that had won us over. Nothing could have been more beautiful than gliding past snow-covered vineyards with some of your best girlfriends, more fun than cheering each other on as we screamed our way to the bottom of miniature hobbit hills, and more inspiring than the shouts of encouragement we received from our more experienced comrades. We are cross-country converts — and we couldn’t be more pleased.
If the thought of slipping into skis makes you a little queasy, consider these tips that we picked up from the powerful women skiers we met along the way:
1. One step at a time.
It wasn’t rare that we found ourselves holding up a large group of women behind us as we slowly made it up the inevitable inclines (and down the inevitable declines). Yet, even when we offered to let other women to pass us, many stayed behind and encouraged us along.
If you’re going up a larger slope, turn to your side and take steps. If you’re too afraid to slide down a hill, just take your skis off and walk. Though more serious ski slopes may not encourage this activity (and you should be aware of what the rules are wherever you go for safety purposes), in more casual areas it can help you get a grip of the land without overwhelming yourself with your suddenly incredibly large “feet”.
2. Just fall down
Going too fast? Afraid of what’s ahead? Feel like you’ve lost control? It’s easy to forget that you’re skiing on inches of powdery snow, and you’re (hopefully) covered in layers of fabric. Just fall down. Not only is it a great way to stop. It’s also useful if you suddenly have the urge to make a snow angel.
3. Let yourself laugh
With the workout you will inevitably give yourself, don’t forget the reason you’re doing it—to have fun. Cheer each other on. Don’t stress over the slower skiers of the pack. Make a team shout. Be inspired by the women around you. And for the love of all things good, make sure you bring along some chocolate.
4. Find your niche
With events like the Women’s Winter Tour happening all over the country (and likely the world), there are numerous ways you can get involved even if you’re not an advanced or regular skier. Find activities whose causes you believe in, and go to lend your support. Make skiing a way to connect with other people and find new friends. You never know who will change you.