No boys allowed in Vail Valley women’s clinics |

No boys allowed in Vail Valley women’s clinics

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” After a girls-day out on Vail Mountain, Edwards, Colorado resident Carol Lovell was feeling like a different skier.

Lovell was enjoying some apres ski with a group of women following the first day of “Her Turn,” a three-day ski clinic designed just for women. In addition to regular ski instruction, the focus was on technique and information specific to women ” from the merits of women’s skis to how to dress warmly.

Lovell took the class in hopes of breaking a plateau in her skiing ability ” something she felt she had a hard time doing when skiing with men.

“I really enjoyed that there were no men there telling me to hurry and that no, I couldn’t go to the bathroom,” she said, laughing.

Women’s sports programs like Her Turn ” from women’s hockey teams to the ladies outdoor class at the health club ” have been popular in the area for more than a decade, and the reasons they’re popular involve more than simply improving at a sport.

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The idea behind women’s specific sports programs is that women learn and play in a comfortable environment while having fun with the girls, said Ingie Franberg, general manager for the Lionshead Snowsports School.

A group of women playing a sport or taking a lesson have a completely different dynamic, said Vail ski instructor Deb Blount.

“They’re tired of everyone being impatient and telling them to hurry up,” said Blount. “It’s a more supportive environment, and slowing down is not a problem.”

Eagle-Vail resident Barbara Luce, who was part of the Her Turn clinic, said she found she was able to relax and focus on her technique in the all-women group.

“A lot of men I know ski very fast, and I’m just trying to keep up,” she said. “I’d rather slow down and make my turns.”

The intimidation factor is a big deal for women in sports, said Mia Stockdale, of the Vail Nordic Center. The center holds three-day women’s cross country ski clinics for beginners that have been popular, she said.

Stockdale also runs women’s mountain biking camps in the summer, and she sees a similar dynamic, she said.

“Women just love that learning environment,” she said. “It’s not intimidating. It’s fun, and you find people you can ski with. I think they have more fun (in a group of women.) They laugh, they stop and talk about what they’re doing that night.”

Besides the fact that many women feel more comfortable learning and trying new things in an all-female group, women simply learn differently, said Franberg.

“Women are very feeling oriented. Looking at a woman instructor, they can picture themselves doing the same thing,” she said. “Women are built in a certain way and that can affect how to perform the turn.”

Nate Goldberg, of the Beaver Creek Nordic Center, said he’s noticed the same thing ” teaching women is more of an “art” than teaching men, he said.

Beaver Creek held a women’s Super Sunday telemark class this Sunday, a class that usually draws 25 to 30 women, he said.

“For a guy, a successful day (on teleskis) would be getting down a double diamond on the second day, even if it’s ugly,” he said. ” For women it’s more of a finesse. They want to watch and listen and master the skill. They want to learn it and do it right.”

When there’s a co-ed group, it’s more likely that a man will dominate the lesson, and the women tend to sit back and be less involved, he said.

There’s a psychological component, too, Franberg said. While many men may be confident they can tackle a tough run, it’s not the same with women.

“They just have to be told, ‘Yeah, you can do this,’ and be encouraged to know that they’re good,” she said.

And for some women, there’s more to a sport than the sport itself.

Eagle-Vail resident Laurie Mullen said that the team camaraderie is one of the top reasons she plays on a women’s hockey team. The Twin Peaks hockey team, made up of women of all ages from up and down the valley, plays games all over Colorado sometimes across the country.

Traveling and practicing together has created relationships that have gone beyond hockey, Mullen said.

“We’ve gone to Las Vegas and Jackson Hole together. We’ve been through births of children, divorces, tragedies and celebrations,” she said. “And you meet such a diversity of people. Now I’m friends with landscapers, ski instructors, nurses and all kinds of different people.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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