The ski resort industry has come only within the past few years to recognize what every coach, regardless of the sport, has known for generations: Women and men differ in body and muscle structure and often in temperament; these differences affect the way each learns and becomes proficient.

Although most resorts group men and women into the same never - ever classes, a few now offer beginner classes exclusively for women and
taught by women. In addition, a steadily increasing number hold a broad range of special clinics and activities for women, and by women, throughout the winter.

Olympic gold - and silver-medalist Diann Roffe-Steinrotter, a spokeswoman for National Women’s Ski Week, says there’s no dispute that almost every woman, from beginner to mountain expert, will learn something of special benefit to her in a women’s program with women teachers.

Claudia Carbone, author of Women Ski, believes that “too many women have been frustrated while trying to ski. Everyone in the ski industry can and should help women enjoy snow activities more.”

On a snow holiday in the dramatic mountains of the Whistler/Black - comb resort in western British Columbia, I spent one day in a women - only three-day program, skiing with a group of six women, all good intermediate skiers in their 30s and 40s, and their dynamic female instructor. Eye-opening.

Laughing, learning, moving from high intermediate to black-dia - mond trails, they were all obviously keen to improve. Their instructor was cheerful and enthusiastic, filled with words of praise, pushing them to a level none had reached in their past years of playing on snowy runs and avoiding steep moguls. Never suggesting anyone was “doing it better” than anyone else. They tackled moguls. Not with a fearless need to blast through, but with a quieter skill.

As they skied, their instructor occasionally paused to watch each soar past, then stopped her to offer a few hints about her ski posture. If it seemed to my unskilled eye that some had more backside sticking out, this was not a problem to the instructor. “They’re built like women,” she told me. “They ski with a woman’s posture.” Pause. “Not a man’s.”

When the last trail was skied and the women crowded noisily into the base lodge for a “farewell picnic,” I asked what had been the most interesting aspect of the program.

Unanimously, they agreed on one special point: They had never been intimidated. Not by a male instructor trying to prove his own prowess or urging them to adopt a ski posture better suited to a man’s structure; not by men in the group pushing to outperfrom everyone.

“The best learning experience I’ve ever had on skis” was how one woman expressed it. “Just great.”

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