Never let it be said that you can’t start skiing as an adult. Even though I began when I was 13, I really didn’t start skiing seriously ‘til I forty. I only went a few times a year throughout my teens. And when I was 23, I actually stopped completely. Life just got in the way. I didn’t ski again for 17 years; that was 16 years ago. Now I’m totally obsessed.
Skiing has completely changed my life. My husband and I moved from Pennsylvania to Vermont, so we could ski in the beautiful Green Mountains. I wrote two ski mysteries, DOUBLE BLACK and FADE TO WHITE [for more info, go to www.wendyclinch.com, both published by Minotaur. And in 2006, I started TheSkiDiva.com, which is now the leading online community for women who love to ski.
One of the things I like best about skiing is how it completely alters your perspective of winter. Instead of dreading the cold and snow, you actually look forward to it. I’m one of those crazy people who actually get excited about snow storms. If you don’t want to ski, there are other great outdoor activities, like snowshoeing, that make it easier to enjoy the season instead of just wishing it away.
If I was to give anyone one piece of ski advice, it’d be to have fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself, why do it?
The second piece -- and this completely relates to the first -- is to take lessons. Lessons can give you the confidence and skills you need to make it safe and fun. They teach you skills to help you cope with all types of situations, including falling. With the newest equipment the biggest problem is no longer broken legs, but knee injuries. If you take a lesson, you’ll learn how to fall properly to minimize your chances of getting hurt.
Lessons are available any number of ways. There are private lessons, group lessons, even women’s clinics. I’m a big proponent of women’s clinics. These are a great way to learn at your own pace, without a lot of pressure. Plus you’ll meet a lot of other women who are interested in skiing. And you’ll make new friends.
As with any new sport, plan ahead, to build up your strength and endurance. Before you start skiing, get in shape by walking, bicycling, lifting weights, swimming, or other sports. Don’t just head out to the slopes and think you can handle a full day. Preparation will make it more fun.
Once you get out there, it’s a good idea to stop when you’re tired. That’s when the most accidents occur. Get off the slope and take breaks. Have a cup of coffee or cocoa, take your time. And never let anyone bully you to try something that’s beyond your ability. Not that you shouldn’t challenge yourself, but know your limits. Choose your ski partners carefully so you ski with people who enjoy the same level of difficulty, and want to ski at a similar pace. If you don’t want to do mogul runs, don’t ski with people who only want to ski moguls. It won’t be fun for either of you.
Now for equipment. A lot of companies produce women’s skis with features that are more suited to our anatomy. The skis are softer, so they’re easier to use. And the bindings are a little more forward since women have a lower center of gravity. But don’t be afraid of unisex skis. These are a bit stiffer, and can actually be better for larger-sized women. Even more important than skis are boots. An ill-fitting ski boot can entirely ruin your day. Women’s boots are made to accommodate our lower calve muscles and our narrower heels and insteps. You want to make sure your heel is secure, so it doesn’t lift up. Be sure to go to a qualified boot fitter at a good ski shop -- not a big box store. Your feet will thank you.
You also want to make sure your clothing is comfortable, water proof, and wind resistant -- like the ski jackets and pants you can find at Junonia. Dress in layers. That way if you are warm you can remove something. You want full freedom of movement, so don’t get anything too tight. Junonia has plenty of apparel that’s both fashionable and comfortable, so be sure to start there.
Remember to always, always, always wear a helmet. There’s been a lot of publicity about tragic accidents like the one that killed Natasha Richardson. Helmets are warm, lightweight and attractive. Don’t leave home without one.
Last but not least, join us at SkiDiva.com. It’s a great way to get advice about equipment and resorts, talk about anything and everything ski related, and connect with other women who ski.