Small ski classes for women boost confidence, camaraderie

Vail Resorts' Women's Ultimate 4 ski lessons are four-hour classes limited to four novice (or rusty) female skiers per group. (Dan Davis/Vail Resorts/TNS)

By BY KAREN TORME OLSON | Chicago Tribune | Published: January 19, 2017

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. -- My family's idea of the perfect vacation is to follow winter around the world and schuss down a snow-covered mountain as fast as gravity allows.

That's not quite my speed, so I often end up on the sidelines spending the daylight hours of our ski trips alone.

I thought this was my unique problem until I enrolled in a ski class given by women, for women at Beaver Creek Resort (www.beavercreek.com). Women's Ultimate 4 ski lesson was developed in response to research showing that many women on ski vacations avoided the slopes. Vail Resorts, which owns Beaver Creek, wanted to know why and interviewed its female guests to get answers.

The result is this four-hour class limited to four novice (or rusty) female skiers per group. The objective is to make women feel comfortable and competent on skis by using expert, nonjudgmental instruction at a pace geared to those in the class.

"My prior experience with skiing was as a middle-schooler in a large beginner group lesson," said Dr. Cari Eggert, a Madison, Wis.-based physician who, like me, found a lot of value in the Ultimate 4 ski program.

Eggert, 42, likened it to a private lesson but with the added benefit of camaraderie.

It "also nudged me a bit outside of my comfort zone in order to keep up with the other skiers," she added. "This was a good thing and led to more rapid improvement."

Vail Resorts offers the lessons during peak ski periods at several of its properties, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone i

n Colorado; Park City in Utah; and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in California.

The cost of the four-hour experience varies by resort. At Beaver Creek, it ranges between $209 and $259, depending on the date and lift-ticket package.

"One of my favorite parts about teaching a women's Ultimate 4 class is that the groups tend to bond together exceptionally well," instructor Kaila Ryan, 25, said. "It's usually a fun experience, as well as an instructional one."

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