Follow the line no one else sees. Just hit it. You’ll be fine.

This Saturday is International Women’s Ski Day. While I’m pretty sure it’s something that K2 dreamed up as a marketing tool, I’m really glad they did and was sure to jump on the #IWSD bandwagon.

As the watchful sort, I see a lot of women-focused marketing around the ski/snowboard world, and I find a lot of it doesn’t apply to me at all. Some is focused on women who are busy parents who are less interested in the slopes than in getting their husbands and children bundled up. (This “snow bunny” will be bundled up in the lodge with either a hot chocolate or a Bloody Mary, thank you very much.) Some treats skiing women as tag-alongs in need of lessons in order to keep up with their 8 year-old sons on the trail.

Gag me.

No offense meant! Really! I’m sorry! But it’s an honest fact that neither of these ideas of “skiing female” resonates with me in the slightest. I find them both vaguely offensive, but that’s a product of who I am and my upbringing in a high-testosterone admit-no-defeat den of bro-dom.

I want to see women portrayed as athletes. Which is why my heart goes pitter patter whenever I see the name SheJumps or the Outdoor Women’s Alliance updates their Instagram account. This is why I refuse to retweet or link to any article that focuses more on Lindsey Vonn’s relationship status than her powerful downhill drive.

I say this even though I was too shy to join into the SheJumps event at Stowe last year. I was there at the mountain. I was the chick in the red coat and pink goggles standing off to one side before ducking my head and scurrying into the singles line before any of the bold women in pink tutus and powder skis could noticed me. (I’m working on it.)

To honor #IWSD, I pulled my coworker and web-content wizard, Courtney, aside. I told her about the day and asked her if we could profile some of the bold, brilliant, brave women at Stratton. Courtney ran with the idea. I cans till hardly believe how much passion she threw behind the project. Every day in the two weeks leading up to December 14, she’s posting a profile of a new Stratton lady on the Stratton Be. Blog.

Liz Millikin Stratton Blog Slider

To my surprise, she volunteered me as a participant. And, to my further surprise, she made me sound pretty cool. My favorite paragraph, of course, is the one that ties into the Slackcountry Living mission:

As for my advice, Millikin referenced something her brother once shared with her. ‘Follow the line no one else sees.’ “The path you take down the mountain is yours and yours alone,” says Millikin. “Be creative. Make your own path.  It’s yours. You got it.”

Of course, said brother called me out on that line. “I don’t remember saying that. I remember saying, ‘Yeah, just hit that. You’ll be fine.'” While this is a much better example of typical big-brother-to-little-sister advice, I maintain that he said what he said, even if not in the same words. He never told me to be creative, but he did tell me to look for my own line. In retrospect, he probably thought I was going to poach his.

Back on topic – check out the blog posts in honor of #IWSD. There are some amazing female athletes on the hill, maybe more than you thought.

Oh – and if you’re wondering, yes. I did hit it. And yes, I was fine.

What’s the best ski advice you’ve ever received?


Sugar, Spice, Almost Everything Nice: Head Sweet Ones

As promised, a proper write up on my darlings. Consider this the official review for the 2011 Head Sweet Ones. You remember them – the skis with the stupid shiny W.

Head shot. ........ get it?
Head shot.
……. get it?

After a full winter riding these babies, I can say… they are a whole world of difference from my old skis.

The Sweet Ones are soft and flexible with plenty of play in the ride. They eat up groomers and the fluffy white with ease.

All that flexibility comes at a price, though. When the going gets variable, the ride gets real weird. When alternating between ice, crud, and soft, the flex works against you. Especially at high speeds, they chatter and bounce uncomfortably. On the one hand, this can make the run interesting (and therefore more fun), especially when riding a more relaxed day with friends with lower top speeds. But when it comes to hard performance riding on variable snow, the Sweeties get left in the car. (Don’t worry – I always leave the window open a crack so they can breathe.)

This pair is a little longer than my old skis (Rossignol Cobras from the annals of history), and I swear I can feel it. There have been times in the woods when I’ve misjudged my turns, only to get tangled up in the undergrowth. Some of these control issues probably stem from my boots, which are way too old and way too stiff.

What really took a while to get used to was my sudden ability to carve in powder. With my old, stiff, skinny skis, turning in the deep was more of an aggressive wiggle (or, in the words of Freeride Skier, “bounce up and down in an energetic fashion”). But with the extra surface area and forgiving softness, I could turn. In the snow. Believe me. This was a revelation.

My main complaint really isn’t much of a complaint – I hate the twin tips. But not as much as the people behind me hate the twin tips. They kick up a serious amount of snow and really piss off whoever is riding behind me. Because I am polite, this meant I spent a lot of time at the tail end of my skiing crew, morosely chewing up the leftovers.

The bottom line, these are great skis that do a lot of heavy lifting. They are a joy to ride – most of the time – and when they’re not, my old stiffies are more than up for the job. But, there were only two or three days where I absolutely had to ride my old skis for the added stability (not counting race days, when the old parabolic curve kicked ass).

The winged W is still stupid.

My To Ski List grows longer every day…

Now that I’m out on my own in the mogul field of adulthood (exciting, repetitious, hard on the knees), I’m not able to travel very far in search of new mountains and aventures. Don’t get me wrong – I’m having a blast exploring my Vermont backyard and being a real local for the first time in my life… But I can’t help but dream of mountain ranges a little off the beaten path.

For years, my dream To Ski List included just three locations:

  • The Atlas Mountains
  • Antarctica
  • The Chugach Mountains

But this past week, due entirely to the Banff Mountain Film Festival and Backcountry Magazine, I added two more destinations.

Think I’m crazy? Don’t pass judgement until you watch the videos.

What mountain range are you dreaming about? Can I come, too?