I created WOW Ski Tours completely by accident. Abandoning my English teaching job in Glasgow to immerse myself in La Dolce Vita of the Italian Dolomites 15 years ago, I hadn’t ever thought of owning a ski company.
But my defining moment was on a ski day out. Coming off at the top of the main gondola which serves the village of Arabba, I stopped before the sharp descent at a place called Porto Vescovo. It’s a nasty slope, and can be challenging. It’s pretty steep and bumpy for a red (intermediate) run, and often littered with fallen skiers. At the top, a woman was sitting, skis off, clearly struggling. She was hurling abuse at her partner who was standing some fifty metres below, trying to coax her to put on her skis and attempt to get down. The woman’s distress was tangible. I empathised totally. And that is where my ski business idea started.
Our Women-only Weeks were born by taking this idea and expanding it into a fully-fledged ski holiday company focussing on, you guessed it, singles ski holidays for women. Skiing should be a shared experience but I recognise there are all sorts of reasons why women may want to go skiing alone. Although technically able, women enjoy reassurance whatever their level, coupled with that vital ingredient: empathy. Whether cruising the blues or nailing the blacks and off-piste, women tend to evaluate any potential risks prior to setting off.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘girly girl’ or the toughest woman around, I also think there’s something good about women coming together without a man’s influence. Maybe you fancy a skiing experience away from the competitive nature of your boyfriend/husband/brother? Or perhaps you’re a solo female, craving an exhilarating trip where you can make new friends? Perhaps you simply prefer the company of other women, especially as we know extreme sport can bring out assertiveness. Let’s face it, a lot of men like to take the reigns on the mountain, and quite frankly we think you deserve a week without boisterous male pals, family members and husbands.
We share and reveal our hopes and fears to each other much more quickly and intimately than men do. We all have a story to tell, of love and hopes and jobs and partners and children and ‘women stuff’ that allows us to trust each other early on. So with any luck, as a further bonus, our groups find other women they can not only ski with, but can build lifelong relationships with; women who they can genuinely call friends.
A group of women together support each other and look after each other in a way that is unique, and we think it’s the absolute antidote to skiing anxiety and stress. We are not ruling men out as skiing buddies, but sometimes it’s nice to have a break.
So, women’s skiing…sounds like a synopsis of an Alpine chic flick? No, we’re not talking endless spa treatments, recipe-swopping and on-the-slope fashion shows under the guise of a ski holiday. Women are serious skiers, too. I’ve gathered a collection of women’s ski experiences that you can sink your teeth into, it’s a phenomenon that’s becoming hugely popular.
Our own WoW Women’s Guided Ski Tours are designed with the intention of taking the stress out of the skiing experience. Women Only Weeks are for all levels and also include an off- piste intro week, specifically created for the solo female skier. Based in the picturesque village of La Villa in Alta Badia, jumping off point for the Sella Ronda, accommodation for all the courses is in a choice of three- or four-star local hotels, or the beautiful Casa Zilli where we can accommodate up to six course participants.
These weeks have a core ethos of building on your strengths. They are about encouragement, reassurance and the gentle building of confidence amongst female company. With an awareness of the difference in female psychology and physicality when it comes to learning, this is the way to hone new skiing skills and improve your technique in a relaxed setting. We want the week to be the platform for the making of real connections, lifelong friendships, all brought about through skiing as a common bond.
Finding yourself as a solo traveller can be taxing and we’re not the only women-only ski course in the Alps, but I like to think that we offer the best value in the most beautiful and relaxed surroundings. After all, skiing is supposed to be fun!
Other Courses in the Alps
Verbier Women’s Camps bring together some of the most experienced and best female instructors around, to unite a cool gang of girls ready to tackle the slopes like never before. There’s both on-snow and off-snow coaching sessions to help you crank your skiing up to the next level. From now on ‘skiing like a girl’ is a compliment.
Another female-only course that calls itself a tonic for women skiers who are craving some quality snow time in a non-pressured environment. Courses are aimed at all levels and are run in groups of about six or seven women. Think top instruction in a beautifully relaxed atmosphere over a three-day period.
The Ski Goddess course is an intensive ski course taking a unique female approach with expert instruction, tailor-made for the female mind and body, and pairing it with a fabulous holiday experience. This course takes a holistic approach, using sophrology: a technique based in neurology that uses meditation and hypnosis influences to calm and focus the mind.
Under the supervision of highly qualified and experienced female mountain guides, the vision here is to unleash the female inner adventurer. Here, you’ll meet like-minded women and you can lap up the mountain together whilst developing skills and building confidence. Less extreme options are the three-hour Ladies Do Lunch sessions for intermediates, and the three-hour Off-Piste Clinic for a quick boost.
Zell am See and Kaprun
The women’s ski week in Zell am See offers the chance to connect with others in a picturesque setting. There’s a welcoming atmosphere in a luxurious hotel with a spa and gourmet restaurant. This option is aimed at women between 40 and 65, and is a brilliant choice for those who don’t have any skiing friends or family. Alternatively, a week-long female-only camp in Kaprun focusses on unwinding, with tasty food and fun off-piste activities woven into the schedule, as well as high-quality coaching.
The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead (UK)
Ladies’ Ski Sessions are for easing women into the world of skiing, which can be daunting at times. All abilities and levels of confidence are welcome, so expect gentle but effective tuition, as well plenty of chats, hugs and cups of tea.
So, how about it? Clearly, there’s plenty of evidence that women are, well, different from men. Certainly not weaker or less able on the mountain, but it’s ok to recognise that we excel in different areas and our learning experience should be tailored to these fabulously female distinctions. So we dare you to empower your feminine, and let your next ski trip be a gloriously female one.