On Skiing as a Boy’s Club

Near the end of last season, I ordered an expensive, girly drink at the bar instead of my usual pint of beer. Now, as a skier, there are certain stereotypes that come with being the sort of person who buys a fancy mojito at apres ski. It’s not a flattering one.

So as I stood at the bar, asking for my ridiculous drink, I could feel my credibility slipping away from me. I was being silently judged for my shameful taste in alcoholic beverage and I hated it. Now, put me on a piste and I’ll be able to show you exactly how well I can keep up, put me in deep powder in the heart of the back country and I’ll look vaguely competent, but give me an expensive cocktail and I look like the sort of skier that can’t get down a well groomed red run, let alone something a little more fun.

Why is it that traditionally feminine drinks have somehow become a sign you’re less skilled than a guy drinking beer from a pitcher?

It all comes back to that old chestnut; you know the one. The one that says men are more skilled than women. And the sad thing is, if you took your average woman it’d probably be true. Not because women aren’t just as capable as men are, but because we have to work twice as hard to get there.

It’s not just in the bar where that stereotype lingers, malignantly. If I go into a ski shop asking to hire or demo a certain pair of skis, I am pointed immediately away from the big boys skis and towards the row of nicely patterned skis for girls.

Now, girls skis are largely the same as men’s skis these days; the only real difference is the aesthetics. The fact that I am being continually pointed towards girl’s skis isn’t the problem I have. The problem is that when I look at a pair of skis and I ask to try them, it’s assumed I don’t know what I’m talking about. That I haven’t researched exactly what sizes the skis are made in, and who they’re designed for. Somehow I am treated like I have stumbled upon the skis by accident, and am completely unaware of the fact that I’m in the men’s section of the shop; “madam, the ladies skis are over here…”

That’s the sort of assumption that is uncomfortably common in ski resorts if you’re a girl. From rental shops where you are told certain skis are too advanced for you, to the odd look you attract when you show a level of competence beyond what’s expected. There is a pervasive attitude that women are less able to ski, and I find it infuriating.

I don’t often care about being judged. Everybody does it, and if we all got heartbroken over it then nothing would ever get done. I would like it if people stopped pointing me towards the intermediate skis though.

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