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Women's Groups

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
OK I would suspect this could be a very hot topic and one all of us can learn a lot by discussing!

Will a woman gain more from a women’s specific skiing clinic rather than a mixed group clinic with a male or female instructor?

On the surface the answer may seem to be be yes but as we look closer the answer may be no. Given the right instructor, male or female, I believe women will gain more in a mixed group than in a woman specific clinic. I also believe the same is true for men. I realize the criteria I set is the right instructor but that is also the criteria of a woman’s clinic.

What say you?
post #2 of 66
Never actually had a group lesson except for a RAGING DISASTER at Whistler...

However I often have friends in my private lessons - I enjoy having a mixed group more than an 'all girl' one .... then again - as I already said I ski with guys - because there is a sad lack of GOOD female instructors here...

Also with a group of 2(me & instructor) we STILL have a mixed group
post #3 of 66
I think you're trying to oversimplify. Some women will be much more comfortable in a women-only group and therefore the would learn better in that situation. Others would be completely indifferent to whether it's women or men in their group and do best in whatever group is suited to their ability and learning style.
post #4 of 66
Learner, I just took a 2-day women's only lesson at Keystone. Last year I took a one day women's only at Copper. Previously all the lessons I had were from male instructors. Some of those lessons were good, some not. The women’s lessons were both very good. It could be simply that now I am a better skier, that I have learned something about taking lessons from the folks here at Epic or that for me the women’s lessons are better.

Bob Barnes in a previous thread explained to me that at Copper you are more likely to get one of their top instructors at one of the specialty clinics. At the "Betty Fest" at Keystone I also had a level III instructor.

For me it is not so much the class dynamics rather than a good instructor.

My observation from this limited experience is that the women taking lessons for the most part are beginners/intermediates. At Keystone I was in the top level group. (I do not consider myself an advanced skier.) The instructor said I was a level 8, that maybe a bit optimistic. At each of the clinics I saw noticeable improvement in both my skiing and the skiing of others. The classes were small, Keystone we had 5 students, Copper I think 4.

While free skiing with our group at Keystone I realized that I had never skied with that many good women skiers at one time. The run was wide open, Just us 6 women carving pretty turns. Now that was fun!
post #5 of 66
PS. we never talked about kids, husbands, PMS.
post #6 of 66
This is a raging debate at our resort. I guess the debate is over. I'm a male and am assigned to our tuesday and wednesday woman's program. I have to give credit to our SSD and ASSD to have the courage to do this.The SSD is a male and a "Bear" known here as Robin. The ASSD is a woman. The two of them have been exceedingly supportive of our little experiment.

I will say it has angered a segment of our female instructor population. I have six women in one group and five in another. They seem fine with it. I was very open from the outset and told all I would not be angered or offended if they wanted assigned to a female instructor.

I have given the topic a great deal of thought. In summation I don't think it wise to make any generalities when it comes to the population as it relates to race, gender, ethnicity, etc. Follow the "golden rule", truely act like a gentleman in all situations, and put your heart and soul into your work and everything will take care of itself.

I did just finish a PSIA clinic today with "leapers". I'm living proof white men cannot jump.
post #7 of 66
What is a good clinic? What is the definition?

It has become increasingly apparent to me that we as instructors are leaders and facilitators and not so much instructors. If skiers are put in the right environment they will learn on their own regardless of whether there is an instructor or not. Creating that psychological environment that is conducive to learning is one of the best things we as ski schools and instructors can do. Whoa to those who think its mostly about technique. Its mostly about making someone feel like they can do anything they put their minds to and removing as many obstacles as possible. Throw in the correct techniques and movements with low key approach and you have the makings for a great clinic.
Jennie Thoren proves the psychological advantages to women's only groups daily.
On the same thought. Its not only "women only groups" its any group setting that develops a common bond and shares comradiere. Humans come alive in those settings. It doesn't matter whether you have a good instructor or not to compare the benefits. The same good instructor will take most female skiers farther in a clinic billed as specifically for women than the same instructor will do in a mixed clinic.

[ January 18, 2003, 07:03 AM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #8 of 66
what is the common bond - besides the xx chromosone bit in a womens only clinic?

I know at least half a dozen females that stay at the Thredbo YHA every August about the same time - all REFUSE to do womens clinic due to quality of instructors provided. they sacrifice instructor standard to provide FEMALE instructors

There has been quite a bit of talk between this bunch - not friends other than the common interest of skiing & staying at the same place to ski each year - on hiring a private instructor for the group - so they can have a GOOD lesson.....

As a bunch they & a bunch of guys all ski together regularly when all staying at the lodge.
post #9 of 66
what is the common bond - besides the xx chromosone bit in a womens only clinic?
Nuttin I reckon.

My daughter would not enjoy a women's only clinic either. We don't have to deal with exceptions though when offering a specialized product. Again Jennie Thoren proves this every day.
post #10 of 66
The topic of "women's clinics" does seem to be "heated" for some but not for the women who take them. I sometimes wonder why this needs to be.
What is the source for the questioning, disapproval and in a few cases, sniggering that goes on among folks who may have little interest otherwise?
As one who has coached these (among just about every other type of clientele and product) for 13 years, I've observed that most women who participate seem to really enjoy them, benefit from them and many return on an annual basis. Many also participate in "coed" lessons, but seem to welcome the opportunity for camaraderie, learning and challenge provided among a diverse and motivated group of same-sex peers. The women involved fit no stereotype - they are single, engaged, married with children, all ages.
Why do they come? Lots of reasons, but I will address just one below.
What I have found often among women in my upper level groups (6-9) particularly is that many are quite competent skiers, but genuinely appreciate and embrace the chance to develop and hone decision making, risk taking and alpine assessment tools among other women.
As a wilderness instructor who also conducts mountaineering, rock climbing and canyoneering courses in the summer for people of all ages, I have seen over 18 years in the field that it is a very common tendency, though not universal, among many women to defer in these types of situations and environments to others, men in particular.
The rest of us can say they shouldn't do this, but they have and they do. Quite frankly, I have not seen women attend these skiing clinics to bemoan the above and bash men (as is rumored). They come, simply, to gain confidence and skills in a setting which they feel accelerates their learning process.
In single-sex clinics with a capable instructor they get lots of practice making decisions and feel they gain competence. Most are excited to return to their husbands, partners, families and friends and share their newfound skills. [img]smile.gif[/img]
The rest of us, men and women already confident, perhaps might feel even more fortunate for being so.
While this is an interesting discussion and definitely worth conducting, if questions around these clinics' validity or efficacy continue to burn for us, one might ask if we can or want to understand the answer. The fact that some women are growing and learning and happy [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] in these clinics to me begs whether our questions really matter.
post #11 of 66
Which begs the question - why do resorts IGNORE the remaining market in specialty products?

As I said - in a week at the Thredbo YHA I can find a bunch of high level skiers - who would all take lessons IF high level instruction was available WITHOUT the competitive streak of the SLAP courses(percieved at least). they will not enroll in a course run by the female instructors allocated....

I could find a similar group of beginners & intermediates too most weeks - although a smaller number of beginners - who just get turned off my the group lesson format. They are 30-40 y.o not so sporty types who do NOT want to be in a lesson with 18 y.o's. & even less so with 20-30 y.o. jocks...
Interestingly enough I would almost bet these are the type MOST likely to RETURN to lessons if they had a good experience to start with. While the jocks 'get it' faster(or think they do_ they are less likely to percieve a need for further instruction.
post #12 of 66
Originally posted by disski:
Which begs the question - why do resorts IGNORE the remaining market in specialty products?
I could be wrong here, but perhaps it has to do with the attitude of some of the customers in the resort, given your response to me last week when I mentioned it. Please, don't jump from "I don't like women only groups" to "why don't we have more of them". If you don't like them, please don't complain about resorts not providing them.

Alan Alda
post #13 of 66
wasn't asking for xx ONLY groups - was asking for suitable groups for: middle aged people - or those less athletic types - or those who do not wish to run gates & jump off cliffs.

Groups of 15-20 beginners grouped by no more than WHEN they turned up is a POOR impression to give potential future clients about the product. (Beginners lessons? Stand in line... OK - you lot go with him- next lot with her.... etc)
post #14 of 66

Very well said. At Eldora, the women's program has been in existence for quite a while. It was always taught by female instructors.

A new direction was taken this year. I THINK the decision was simple. Women were being taught by new non cert or level one instructors who happened to be female. Full cert and/or level III males were not being assigned participants in the womans program. I SUPPOSE it was decided the quality of instruction was more important to the customer than gender.

I am a level II trying this year to pass my level III exam for the first time. I am full time, and outside the womans program, teach a great many women from Boulder. I guess I'm the guinea (sp?)pig.

Your thoughts were cogent. Had you been our SSD would you have assigned a level II male to teach or a new non cert? I admit it is a vexing question. I realize there are women seeking a particular group dynamic.

One last thought occurs to me. Next year we are planning a Men's Monday Mogul Mashers Group. I have a nine year old daughter. Let's hope this group grows and becomes successful. In a few years would we say to her, "Honey......you ski pretty well for a gal, but, this is men's monday, go have a seat and watch a man do it"?
post #15 of 66
Which begs the question - why do resorts IGNORE the remaining market in specialty products?
This is an easy question if you understand how these specialty products for women came into the market. These programs were not instituted by ski area managment or for that manner the overworked ski school director. These programs were instituted by high level instructors, female in this case who were willing to go out on a limb and sell their ideas to management. These same instructors were willing to set the program up, run it and manage it. When these programs took off, management was delighted. Overworked management cannot shove it down from the top.
Most of these programs are still run by instructors but marketed by management.
Whats it take? The guts to go out and set up a program for aging baby boomers who believe they have special needs and believe that youth is wasted on the young. To do this you need your ducks in a row and sell it to management.

[ January 18, 2003, 07:26 AM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #16 of 66
So Pierre.....the sole domain of female instructors?

P.S. I need a bump lesson!
post #17 of 66
Rusty Guy:
So Pierre.....the sole domain of female instructors?
Depends on what the women want.
post #18 of 66
Thread Starter 
It begs the question were competent women instructors looking for higher-level teaching that was not being assigned to them in the ski school by a male dominated group so they created their own market? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #19 of 66
It begs the question were competent women instructors looking for higher-level teaching that was not being assigned to them in the ski school by a male dominated group so they created their own market?
Now I realize you have a smilly face at the end of this but I can't help but think that you would certainly know the answer to that question if you have ever listened to a couple of women getting ready together to go to some big event. More power to them. My turn for the [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ January 18, 2003, 02:09 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #20 of 66
Originally posted by Learner:
It begs the question were competent women instructors looking for higher-level teaching that was not being assigned to them in the ski school by a male dominated group so they created their own market? [img]smile.gif[/img]
I'd say, if so, go for it! (aka: You Go Girl!)

If you have a product, and can build a market specific to your product, that requires your services, good for you.

post #21 of 66
Vera, I couldn't agree more with you.

I dislike it when men generalize about female experiences. It reminds me of when I was pregnant with my first child and my father-in-law gave me advice about labor and delivery. :


Does Eldora offer a mixed adults program? Would the women in the women's program be okay with it if you admitted men students as well?

P.S. I skied in a group of five women and six men at Galena. We bragged that our group had more TPP than the others. Some men in other groups said our group had too much estrogen. Some of the guys in our group said, "I wish I could ski as well as the girls."

The only difference I could tell was the more convenient plumbing that men enjoy au naturel and the tendency of the women to let the men go first unless invited to take the lead (behind the guide, of course).

There are only a very few female guides at CMH. The continual lifting of skis into and out of the basket is probably one reason. It's brutal.
post #22 of 66
Holy Q-Angle, Batman! It is funny, I have been involved with women's specific programs for many years...lots of different motivations, expectations etc. The "social component", the psychological and physiological needs and of course the holy grail of all good gender specific programs....exclusivity!
But I will guarantee the motivation of most men and women (at least the 55 and under set) is to have a breakthrough; in understanding, technique or emotional......so, who cares if the prophet is male, female or otherwise.......
I made a decent living learning to GCT before GCT was a buzzword....kids, women whatever....gender specific programs are more about being in the "club", the Ya-Ya sisterhood and superfluous HorseSh*t than learning in way too many cases....that's cool if that is the pupose....but I know a lot of women who transcend that mentality and want to improve.....

I will now find a safe place and duck!!! By the way Rusty....awesome job!
post #23 of 66
Thankyou Robin

I'll ski with the best instructor I can get - keep it up!
post #24 of 66
Everyone in the ski industry should be as lucky as we are to have Robin, Deb, Skip, and Alicia to work for. Thanks for the kind words Robin and thanks for the support.

You know nolo, I think the woman in "my group" are a very sharp group of women. I put all the politics on the table and they have, in a word, been wonderful.I think they could care less about my gender. The "problem" seems to be with a small cadre of instructors opposed to my involvement. These instructors seem opposed to any change. Our former SSD is a great guy, however, he isn't someone whom you would describe as having strong organizational skills. His strength was his "people skills". Robin has made wholesale changes and this has upset a few folks. They have whined and they have gossiped. It gets old. Life is about change and from my perspective we are a far better ski school.

I had one woman describe a fairly banal expression she used with "her gals". Boy......is there a more pejorative term than "gal" I only hear female instructors over the age of 103 using the word. In any case, this woman told me I couldn't talk that way to my gals. I said I could, but that I wouldn't, and that I would cut the locker room banter with males as well. The funny thing is, the expression she used involved outmoded teaching agvice!

I think the customers I am teaching fit squarely in the catagory described by Robin. They have paid a nickel and expect a good product. So to answer your question I THINK they would embrace anyone in the group. It is a five or ten week program and a heart warming group dynamic developed in about one hour. We do a lot of cheering!
post #25 of 66
Rusty and Robin,

Would it be okay to admit a male student into a women's group?

Would you agree that some men might prefer to be taught by a male rather than a female instructor?

Would you allow that the case of the male student preferring a male instructor is perhaps more prevalent than a female student preferring a female instructor?

Just answer the questions as presented please.
post #26 of 66

I once heard a wise judge (male) counsel a young attorney to never ask a question that he didn't know the answer to!

Just answer the question please?????

Question #1 Okay to admit?........yes madam I sure think it would be okay but I think a percentage of women might object.

Question #2 Some men?........gee, I suppose so madam

Question #3 Perhaps?........puleeze!
post #27 of 66
I try only to ask questions when I don't know the answer. This isn't rhetoric, this is a discovery.

1. I think it would be pretty weird to admit men as students in a women's group. This completely contradicts "women's," does it not?

2. Given a choice, I think few men would choose a female instructor over a male instructor. I'd like to hear from the qualified buyers (that would be men, Rusty) on my reading of the situation.

3. All else being equal, I think more women would be satisfied with a male instructor than men would be satisfied with a female instructor.

I didn't make the world the way it is, Rusty, but I do live in it. I would also hasten to say that male hairdressers do quite well with female clients, but I doubt male fitness instructors do as well with women's aerobics classes as women fitness instructors do. I don't know why this is.

I also think it helps when women students have female role models. I think this is particularly true in the ski school, where there are few female role models and most training is done by the male role models. Ask some of the women in your ski school if they don't yearn to take training clinics from good women instructors. I was lucky to have come up with some great women instructors in PSIA.

Why does CSIA take pains to place women on their Demo team?

Why does PSIA do the same?

Think about it, Rusty. Puhleeeze.
post #28 of 66

I have thought about it and I believe most everyone would suggest I'm a thoughtfull person. I like to think that is one of the reasons a female ASSD asked me to help out with the women.

I honestly thought your sequencing of the inquiry was a rather sophomoric attempt to paint Robin and I into a corner. Why solely query the two of us?

I also thought the tone/tenor of your order to "just answer the question" was a bit much, and that served as the basis for my mordant response.

I'll keep doing my best to keep thinking. Having looked at your musings I would posit that you are painting life's picture with a mighty broad stroke.

P.S. Earlier this evening I sent an e-mail to Jennifer Metz asking if she would spend some time with me in the testosterone filled bumps at Mary Jane. I think she is the premier bump skier/instructor in Colorado. I sought her help for one reason and that is her ability. I guess I should have asked Todd Metz for help instead. Jenn graciously agreed to give me a hand on February 6.

[ January 19, 2003, 08:40 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #29 of 66
Why were students in your area's women's program assigned non-cert or level 1 female instructors?
post #30 of 66
P.S. Enjoy your training opportunity with Jennifer, Rusty. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
I share your high regard for her. She also is a lead coach in Winter Park's women's program, which has been quite successful over the years.
Perhaps it might be interesting for you to share and compare perspectives with her as you continue to contemplate the teaching opportunity you are pursuing at Eldora!
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