The next time you’re in a ski resort, stop and look around. Who do you see? Chances are, many more men than women.
According to the SnowSports Industries American (SIA), almost 20% more guys than women alpine skied during the US 2014/2015 season. And the gap widens even further for snowboarding and free skiing (see the whole fact sheet).
I didn’t find stats on this, but my guess — based on anecdotal evidence — is that there’s an even bigger gender gap when it comes to recreational versus expert and backcountry skiing.
Since I started skiing more seriously about 10 years ago, I’ve learned what to expect from being in the minority.
Here are my top five takeaways from skiing with the guys:
- When you ski in Europe, you may want to decline the apres-ski “wellness” center because bathing suits aren’t allowed, and the idea of hanging out naked in the sauna with five of your close guy friends is just too weird. And don’t believe them when they say that “no one can see anything through the steam.”
- If you enjoy ski fashion but also ski the big stuff, prepare to get profiled by ski patrol, lifties, guides and basically all male skiers (and some female). If I have one more ski store salesperson try to sell me “resort” skis, I’m going to challenge them to a race. Another approach: read this and learn not to care.
- The guys will inspire you to be a braver, faster and stronger skier. I have a few girlfriends who are stronger skiers than I am, and I love learning from them. But because there are simply more of them, it’s usually the guys who push me to try something outside my comfort zone, or who give me tips on how to handle a narrow section or gnarly entrance. My husband was the first one to push me like this, and that experience even made it into my wedding vows as something I love about him.
- You’ll need to learn to appreciate (or tolerate?) chairlift toilet humor and you won’t be immune to the occasional ribbing. Note: the instance of this behavior increases approximately 10% with every additional guy in your group. I don’t know what it is about a powder day, but it will turn even the most successful, professional 30-something guy you know into a 12-year-old.
- You will get props from your guy group for being able to “hang” with the boys. They will pose for pictures like this that illustrate how much they agree that women do rule the world:
Things are changing on the mountain, though. In recent years, I see more and more rippin’ female skiers, patrollers and instructors. Recently here in Big Sky, I met a very cool instructor who seems more than capable of skiing whatever the hell she wants, and I look forward to taking some turns with her on the next powder day. And together we’ll be more than proud to #skilikeagirl.