Saturday, May 06, 2006

Risky Business.

Granted, there are a number of women who ski with no fear -- who have the skills and nerve to tackle just about any situation on and off-piste without a second thought.

But for all of those with no fear -- and I salute you -- there are dozens of other women who are reluctant to push themselves to the next level, or who may even give up skiing, for fear of getting hurt.

Is it that women are more averse to risk than men? Do we know that we'll still have to go to work, take care of the kids, do the laundry, cook the meals, clean the house, and so on and so on, even if we've torn our ACL or fractured our tibia? Or is it some macho thing that causes some men to turn into super competitors who are willing to try anything on the slopes, even if it's beyond their abilities, no matter what the cost?

I know I'm generalizing. I know there are plenty of men who'll do the housework and take care of the kids, and many women who'll rip down the slopes, launching themselves off frozen waterfalls and zipping down untracked couloirs. Of course the whole concept of what's risky -- and what isn't -- is purely personal. It probably has a lot to do with past experiences, social conditioning, upbringing, role models, expectations, and so on.

But still, when I see how male dominated skiing seems to be, it makes me wonder. What do you think?


midwif said...

I have skied solo quite a few times as it's hard to find other women. My husband doesn't really like skiing, but will come to keep me company on vacations.
Skiing is a time intensive sport-travel to/from the mountain, time on the mountain etc, can make it hard to fit in with family/work obligations.
Culturally, men seem to have more leeway to take a day or weekend to ski with 'the guys'. Women seem to feel less free to do that.

skidog said...

It's interesting because every time I read something about women being risk takers, they describe extremes like hucking off a cliff.

To me, taking risks could be as simple as finally attempting the black diamond run that was beyond my skill level in the past. However, instead of sucking in the fear and bombing down the run, I take lessons and spend hours working on technique until I'm able to ski that run with confidence and competence. Does this mean I'm not a risk taker?

Wendy C. said...

Anytime you do something that's a little out of your comfort zone -- whether it's getting on the freeway or trying a new food -- you take a risk. Approaching it in a level-headed manner and preparing yourself is, in my mind, the best way to handle it. This is what more women have to understand about skiing.

That doesn't mean women are inherently chicken. It just means that women may tend to sort things out and make sure they're ready before attempting something they think is risky. (After all, they still have to cook dinner and go to work and take care of the kids!) Unfortunately, a lot of women perceive skiing as a dangerous sport. (Even though we know it's not.) And that may be one of the factors that's keeping them away.

I'm like you, skidog. I prepare and prepare. But when I finally conquer the fear, the feeling of accomplishment is simply awesome. Just takes some doing sometimes.

skidog said...

Unfortunately, I think one of the reasons why a lot of women don't like skiing is how they were taught. Whenver a friend expresses an interest in skiing, I always recommend that they don't take a lesson from their husband/boyfriend, but to take a lesson with a professional ski instructor first. Rent the latest gear that fits, don't borrow a friend's old gear. Lastly, never let anyone pressure you into going beyond your comfort zone while you're a beginner.

My boyfriend is an ex-ski instructor. He sometimes gets frustrated with me because I don't always progress as fast as he thinks I should, which doesn't bother me because I do want to become a better skier, but have more patience with the process. He was humbled when my ski instructor at Alta gave me a simple tip and I was able to implement it immediately, which took my skiing to another level. The instructor also understood that if he took the time to step-by-step explain how to get through a tricky spot, I'd proceed without hesitation. At the end of the first day, I navigated my way down High Rustler without hesitation and no fear -- I was so busy concentrating on technique, I didn't even notice how steep it was.

Wendy C. said...

I agree with you completely, skidog. There's too much personal baggage associated with getting ski lessons from boyfriend or husband or having them teach you. I think it's always better to get an objective third party involved. It's far less pressure, and skiing should be fun!

Sounds like you did a great job getting down High Rustler, skidog! Way to go!!