Snowsports Leaders Discuss Impact of Women’s Summit

The fourth annual Women’s Summit took place March 19-21 at Squaw Valley, CA, last month, providing an opportunity for women across the snowsports industry to network and create a better platform for leadership opportunities. 

According to Heidi Ettlinger, the event creator, coordinator and PSIA National Alpine Team member, “The Summit provided opportunities for industry professionals to train with elite coaches, share ideas, influence the future, and network with women colleagues in cross-industry fields from across the globe.”

Ettlinger said, “Each year we aim to provide opportunities for women to train with highly experienced world class colleagues, enhance their platform for leadership in the industry, energize their skiing, teaching, learning, and coaching, and finally the opportunity to SHAPE THE FUTURE!”

You can read an overview of the Summit and look at past event guides here. PSIA-AASI asked three of this Summit’s coaches to discuss why the event is so important for them, and to all women snowsports professionals.

Tracy Buchanan, NSP Central Division Ski and Toboggan Staff / IT, Alpine Level III
The Summit offers a great opportunity to challenge yourself, and push the boundary lines of your comfort zone in a very positive, encouraging environment.  My goal was to do just that in my own skiing, and also foster that in the women I had the pleasure of coaching in our toboggan clinics.

What were you top takeaways?
I love working in both NSP and PSIA, so to be part of the blending of coaches and participants from these organizations, as well as USSA, is truly something incredible. There is a sense of inclusivity and approachability that happens within an event like this that creates a very inspiring environment. The top takeaway for me is the sharing of knowledge and positive collaboration that is so important in the snowsports industry as a whole.

What is the impact of this initiative in the future?
This event is not just about the clinics. It’s also about networking and exploring different parts of the snowsports industry. To see someone who is a NSP ski and toboggan trainer pursue their credentials in PSIA-AASI to become better at what they do is awesome. To have a PSIA-AASI instructor become involved in NSP or USSA is adding value to what they bring to the table in those organizations. The idea is that there are many options to create your own pathway and inspire other women to have the courage to do the same.

Leigh Pierini, PSIA-W and RM Education Staff, PSIA-W Member School Director, Trainer at Heavenly
My goal is to give as much as I can to each participant. My intent is to continue to encourage women to be the best leader they can be. Remind them what a powerful role a woman has in the ski industry, how the industry needs us, how important it is to find the new leaders, how to mentor those new leaders. My hope is to also give them tools to enhance their own knowledge in skiing and training others. Oh, and we get to rip around with ripping women!

I feel it is important to remind women to find a mentor, and to let them know their mentor does not have to be a woman. It’s just important to find a trusting mentor. I like to remind them it’s ok to not have all the answers! Women-specific programs are a great place to be around strong, supportive women in the industry.

What is the impact of this initiative in the future?
This Summit is so important because it brings together women leaders from all aspects of our industry. It allows us to share and grow. We talk about opportunities and challenges for women in the industry. At this Summit, we had the opportunity to learn from women who have paved the way, and new leaders who are changing the norm. It also gives us the ability to expand our tribe!

Patti Banks, Instructor/Trainer Breckenridge Ski Area, PSIA RM Cross Country Chairperson and Examiner, PSIA RM Telemark Examiner
My goals coming into this event were to offer cross country and telemark skiing clinics to draw more participants from a wider range of backgrounds, as well as to add a more diverse offering of clinics to the ladies who have participated in the past Summit. Another goal was to offer participants an opportunity to learn a new discipline in the sliding world.

What were your top takeaways?
The clinics I taught were either ski improvement, or introduction of cross country (both classic and skate classic) and telemark. One of the important takeaways was making movements that were more efficient and understanding how both of these disciplines have a huge transfer to alpine skiing, as well as a great alternative to stay in shape. Another fun takeaway was having the ladies try something totally new and put themselves into the role of a total beginner.

What is the impact of this initiative in the future?
More great women participating in the Women’s Summit from more diverse backgrounds... from cross country centers, backcountry background and patrol.

Listen to two PSIA-AASI First Chair Podcasts from the event here: 

- Peter Kray

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