Friday, January 4, 2013

Resolving to rip


New Year’s is a time of reflection, self-improvement and introspection. During these first days of 2013 we’re infused with renewed energy. We focus on eradicating bad habits and finding ways to be better.

One group of 20 local women has been well ahead of the resolution curve—at least when it comes to skiing. They started to change their lives in the local ski program for beginners called Divas 101. It’s one of several Sun Valley SnowSports School clinics like Mountain Masters and January Jump Start that kick in this month.

By joining coaches Danielle Carruth, Nicky Elsbree and others, the women resolved to tweak turns, master some moguls and amplify their confidence. They resolved to become better shredders in a ski town.

Coach Carruth has revamped the popular Divas program (aimed at intermediate skiers and up) for women seeking basic skills. She said, “So many girls, of all ages, told me they wanted to be better skiers, but they didn’t want their spouse or a friend to teach them. Many had husbands or kids who were out-skiing them. Others were new to town and couldn’t keep up.” Some were snowboarders who wanted to also learn to ski, she added.

“Generally, I kept hearing women say that they were desperate to love skiing, but just didn’t,” Carruth said. “To me, that’s an exposure issue. The more you ski, the better you get. The better you get the more you enjoy it. These women want to love skiing. They want to rejoice in powder days and love the winter. This is why Divas 101 is so helpful. It builds skills and gets them out there.”

Divas 101 participant Bex Wilkinson said, “I used to live in a town where there was a big mountain in the background. Now I see that the reason for the town is that amazing ski hill.”

Typical of a Divas 101 skier, Wilkinson is a long-time valley resident and mother of skiers. She didn’t think the sport was for her. “I figured I would get through my whole life without it,” she laughed. “Before I joined Divas, I probably skied 20 days in six years.”

Then she met her partner, Caleb Baukol, who, by all accounts, is one of the best big mountain skiers in town. Baukol, who owns 5B Garage and builds custom Bigwood skis, is a quintessential Ketchum skier who embodies the mountain lifestyle. Baukol never insisted Wilkinson learn to ski, but his enthusiasm and love for the sport proved infectious. She decided to give it a try.

“Now I get it,” she said. “I get why people are so excited to ski. It’s really beautiful up there and it’s a great family activity.”

Family is what compelled southern California transplant Kathy Agnew to enroll in Divas 101 last year, and to continue the program this winter. The mother of two Ketchum kids, Agnew found that she was not only losing her husband to the mountain every weekend, but her children as well.

“It was time to get with the program,” she said. “When I got engaged years ago, my in-laws-to-be sent me for a lesson on Dollar with some 12-year-olds. It didn’t really make me want to stick with it. But now I feel motivated. I want to ski with my family and Divas has inspired me. It took some of the intimidation factor away and provided great instruction. I’m starting to understand why people are so obsessed—it’s pretty spectacular up there.”

The desire to ski with her family also compelled Sonya Johnston to sign up for Divas. Although she grew up in Colorado, skiing wasn’t part of her family’s routine. Yet for her husband Andrew, skiing is not a hobby, it is a raison d’etre.

“The first time I ever skied about 10 years ago, Andrew brought me to the top of Baldy,” Sonya recalled. “I was absolutely terrified. I skied with him from then on, but I never felt really comfortable. Until Divas, I never took any real lessons.”

It was a life-changing decision. “My skiing improved so much with Divas last year that I wanted to keep going. The more time on my skis I get, the better I get,” she said. “I love being on the mountain with other women and with coaches like Danielle and Nicky. This week, I skied Christmas Bowl with my husband and my son and they didn’t even have to wait long for me at the bottom. That is something I would never have been able to do without Divas.”

The season’s amazing early season snowfall accelerated the progression of the beginners. Wilkinson said, “We tried some bumps, skied in fresh snow and found lots of ways to embarrass ourselves other than just practicing turns on groomed runs. But you’re all in it together so it’s okay. It’s a great way for women to connect and take chances.”

Carruth said, “We all live in this amazing place. I want our local girls to take advantage of the resources, to put themselves out there, to truly embrace living in a ski town.”

For more information about Carruth’s new Divas 101 Clinic this month, and for details of other January offerings, contact the Sun Valley Snowsports office at 622-2289 and get out there! Improving your skiing is a resolution that’s easy to keep.





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