New PSIA Alpine Team member Brenna Kelleher just returned from Chile’s Ski Portillo, where she joined PSIA-AASI Official Supplier Blizzard/Tecnica as part of a women's initiative formed to test skis and discuss how to best support women in the ski industry.
While she was there, Kelleher shared photos and video on PSIA-AASI’s Instagram account. The main goal of the trip – which Kelleher shared with Blizzard/Tecnica staff and four other accomplished female skiers – was to discuss women’s alpine equipment, and also what women enjoy most about skiing.
“Portillo is a pretty special place,” said Kelleher. “I am fortunate to have been able to see it like a guest sees it. The people there really impressed me. From the staff to (Alpine Team Coach) Michael Rogan, the instructors, and Frank the avalanche guy, everyone was really nice and accommodating. The availability they have for groups like the Austrian and U.S. Ski Team to come and train there, and have photo shoots, while all this other stuff is going on is pretty amazing.”
Kelleher said she and her fellow skiers cycled through 10 different Blizzard skis on the trip, discussing who would be best served by the products, their top features, and how to continue building better skis in the seasons to come. Here are Brenna’s top takeaways from her adventure.
- Not every woman is the same: Some ski aggressively, some ski less aggressively, and we all have different builds. To create a total women’s ski line, somewhere, someone is going to be left out. The same is true for the men’s side. What we need to do as an industry is create a better understanding of the equipment you do need and what will work best for you according to your ability, body shape, and preference as a skier.
- We need to educate women to be on the ski they need to be on for their ability level: Sometimes it’s okay for a woman to be on a men’s ski. What’s significant for PSIA members is to rely on our progressions to help build our students skills from the bottom up, or help them improve at higher levels. We were testing a lot of skis for intermediates, and while we learned what they couldn’t do well for us, they were still beneficial for skiers at that level. Getting people into lessons is key, but providing better education about equipment needs to happen at the shops as well.
- Sharing experiences matters: The fact that all five us came together so quickly and started sharing our experiences despite our different backgrounds and areas of focus drew compliments from the people at Ski Portillo. We were pushing each other, but without any pretension or attitude, and trying to blend our skills. When we asked, "What is it that keeps people coming back to skiing?" a lot of it was about sharing our experiences. Sharing our personal experiences helped us bond as a team, and it's a big reason why women keep coming back to the sport. It’s why we will all continue to work on this "Women’s Initiative" together.
“Overall, the one thing I would say is that it’s pretty cool to have this kind of experience and I would encourage women to do something like this with their friends,” Kelleher said. “You always say you’re going to do it. You just have to go ahead and do it.”
- Peter Kray