Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Skiers of the Female Pursasion

There is a FASCINATING discussion going on at Epic Ski, Jill I. just brought it to my attention. Check it out, and I am curious to hear what you think.

The jist of the conversation is: should women be judged by different criteria to make the Demo Team? (Should there be x number of spots for women on the team?)

Why are there so few women on the team? is it because women are not motivated to try out? Don't ski as well? Aren't chosen because the men are better?

Here's my take, and personal feeling. Most of the women that ski hard enough to make the team are sponsored free-riders who are about 18-23 years old and are not instructors. The cross section of female ski instructors at the Academy and other events seemed to be generally happy with their skiing level, wanting to improve somewhat, but not ever dreaming that they could ski hard enough to make the team.

I think that to change this, PSIA and individual ski schools need to recruit, encourage, and challenge young women! The Demo team needs a bigger presence in ski schools, the general public should know more about it, and they should market specifically to the future of the demo team, girls 14 and 15 who might try out in four cycles or so.

Here is my personal feeling about a "women's quota" at the try outs:
NO THANK YOU! I want to make it to the team on my own merit. I would be SO disappointed if I Made it to "one of the spots for the girls" Right now, its a Team. Not 5 spots taken from good skiers and saved for the PC girls quota. No thanks.

As long as i am welcome, encouraged, and proud to be at try outs, thats all I want. A fair chance to win my own spot.

What do YOU think?


The Catharine Chronicles said...

I think your take that women aren't encouraged or promoted as top-flight skiers probably accounts for the disparity. The same way that, 50 years ago, women interested in medicine leaned more toward nursing than medical school (because that's where they were led to believe their "place" was), or aspired to being teachers rather than school admininstrators and board members (because everyone knew back in 1957 that women lacked the skills necessary to be politicians and principals), women are not trained or groomed toward something like D-Team. The current lack of women on the team does little to counter that belief if a woman does take a shine to the idea (except you, Kate, you trailblazer, you).

Women are as competitive as men. Anybody who has ever watched the few sports where men and women compete on equal footing, such as equestrian events, has ample proof of this. As for the disparity in physical strength, women firefighters in every major city are required to lift as much, move as fast, and cope with every situation as well as the men against which they are training. Unless skiing for D-Team includes something more grueling than deadlifting a 175 pound dummy and schlepping up and down a 20-foot ladder in a prescribed time period, I'm pretty sure there's nothing that a male skier could do that a female couldn't, given the time, training and support.

I think you should just put your head down and keep moving foward, without worrying about the gender gap. Not that it doesn't exist, only that it's always been there, and probably always will be. Women can make the team and have made the team before. Before Sally Ride and five other women were selected by NASA to train as mission specialists, there were no woman in the US space program. Since that first selection in 1978, there have been 196 women trained for space flight, with 47 of them actually being chosen to fly missions. Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle in 1995, then command a shuttle mission, in 1999. All in less than 15 years. And it started with six women selected along side 30 men as mission specialists and potential pilots and commanders.

You don't even have to be the first. You just need to be the next. You don't have to be Sandra Day O'Connor. You can be Ruth Ginsburg. Isn't that a big relief (on oh-so-many levels)?

Now, get in that shower and ski, girl. Ski!


The Catharine Chronicles said...

I swear to God, I meant to type "all in less than 25 years." It was a typo, not a math error.

(This is what got me kicked out of that damn space program. NASA is so unforgiving about that math stuff.)


a said...

Catharine, you are right on the money, man! Thanks for the comment, and the inspirational bit at the end.

Its cool, I think PSIA is very welcoming these days to girls. I haven't felt any separation, or elitism or sexism, or anything. I think it is actually a very evolved sport this way, that's why I was so surprised to read the discussion thread.

I also found out that it is a four year old thread from the last tryout, but it will be interesting to see what happens this year after the tryouts at Mammoth.