Female-only ski classes are helping to grow the sport among women

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By Rebecca Gale,

Dina Tilghman
Dina Cappiello Tilghman and her son Luke Tilghman, 7, ride the chairlift last season. He was in the Whitetail Resort’s kid ski program; she was in the Women of Whitetail cohort.

Last winter, Kelly Beeland joined the growing number of female skiers who have discovered the benefits of honing their skills in the company of other women. For six weeks, Beeland and about two dozen other students — some novices, some black diamond skiers — participated in Women of Whitetail (WOW), a ski instruction program at Pennsylvania’s Whitetail Resort. Not coincidentally, the start time for the resort’s weekend course was 30 minutes after drop-off time at its ski school for children.

Beeland, 46, a stay-at-home mom from Alexandria, Va., wanted to improve her own skiing so she could keep up with Sam, now 11, and Brynn, 9, when the family traveled from the East Coast to the more challenging skiing of Snowmass, Colo. Though she hadn’t been seeking women-only classes, she found them an ideal fit, because “I think women and men approach learning things differently,” she said.

Emily Spiker, the program manager of Women of Whitetail, concurs. “Learning with other women creates a more supportive group and makes skiing less intimidating,” she said. The resort’s only female instructor with Level 3 certification, Spiker has been skiing for 50 years and teaching it for 20. She estimates that about 70 percent of the Women of Whitetail participants are moms with a child in the ski school program or on the race team. Like Beeland, their goals are modest: improve their skiing, keep up with their kids and make the entire experience of spending the day at Whitetail more fun overall.

Alex Beard

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