SheJumps teaches Summit County girls ski patrol basics
ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA — On Sunday, Feb. 2, Summit County girls aged 8 to 17 gathered at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to learn mountain safety and first aid as part of a junior ski patrol program. The SheJumps Wild Skills Junior Ski Patrol is hosting their program in two Colorado locations this year: A-Basin and Loveland Ski Area.
“The Wild Skills is a relatively new program so we’re still working on getting more of those into Colorado,” SheJumps Colorado Ambassador Sarah Foster said.
Foster explained that the organization puts on several programs throughout the year for all ages, but Wild Skills is part of SheJump’s youth programming.
“We do a ton of different stuff like education as a focus, as well as when we get to a little bit of the older age just trying to foster a female community, maybe encourage them to get into something that they haven’t done before,” Foster said, noting that the nonprofit recently hosted a wine party that taught people how to wax their gear.
While the Wild Skills event teaches the basics of ski patrol to young girls, Foster said that the main goal is to expose these girls to female role models in the outdoor industry.
“Our whole thing is getting more women and girls outdoors,” Foster said. “Ski patrol and just the outdoors in general is very much a male dominated industry. We’re just trying to give them female role models that, even if they don’t necessarily want to do ski patrol, to just see women in these positions and say, ‘Yeah, I could do something (like that).’”
Several female volunteers came to guide the girls through the program as A-Basin ski patrol members gave lessons on mountain safety and first aid. The girls got to work with avalanche dogs, snowmobiles and learned about avalanche safety.
“We have a first-aid station, a toboggan station, we also have a weather station and avy station so they’re going to get to practice with beacons and probes and shovels and we’re actually heading up to a beacon area so they have to find little hidden donuts underneath the snow,” volunteer Courtney Van der Linden said. “So it’s pretty advanced stuff for little kids which is cool.”
As someone who worked in outdoor education and is currently a teacher, Van der Linden said she is drawn to these types of programs and has volunteered with SheJumps before.
“I love skiing and I’m a teacher, I love teaching and it’s cool to combine the two into one and inspire the next generation of women and I thought I would learn a couple of things too,” Van der Linden said. “I got to go in the first-aid room and hold a toboggan and learn more about how they do things here at A-Basin, and I ski here all the time so it’s good knowledge for me as well.”
As for the girls, both Foster and Van der Linden commented on how high their energy was and how excited they were to be at A-Basin that day.
“It’s a lot of smiles, they loved to ride the toboggan, the weather helps, there’s no cold toes or anything, so everyone’s pretty stoked,” Foster said, referring to the bluebird day with a high temperature of 49 degrees.
When talking with the young participants, many girls commented that they want to be on ski patrol when they are older. After lunch, they recounted their favorite parts of the day so far, which included riding and pulling the toboggan, riding the snowmobile and seeing a shoulder injury in the first-aid area.
“My favorite part is when we got to get pulled on the sled that people who are injured on, up and down, and we got to pull it ourselves,” said 12-year-old Addison Keese.
The girls also described what they learned so far, which was mainly first-aid based.
“We learned the most common injuries are your shoulder, leg, ankle and wrist,” the girls said in unison.
There was a resounding “yes” when asked if the participants wanted to come back to the ski area learn more.
The next Colorado Wild Skills Junior Ski Patrol program will be from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Loveland Ski Area. Registration is $45 for season ticket holders and $70 for participants who need a lift ticket.
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