Once upon a time, there was a girl who thought she was far beyond reproach as a skier, until a Snow Fairy named Alison Gannett cast a spell and turned her into a Rippin Chick!
Before I continue this real-life fairy tale, it’s important to start the first of three blog posts on Osprey athlete Alison Gannett’s Rippin Chix ski clinic in Crested Butte, Colo., with a little background info on Alison. I’ll also throw in a bit of info to frame the impossible case study, moi.
First, Alison…She is best described a multi-faceted professional athlete and climate ambassador. Not many people can write “World Champion extreme FreeSkier” and “award winning global cooling consultant” on the same resume — Alison can.
The ski comps she’s won in Canada, Japan, South America and the United States are surely feats to admire, but the fact that she was chosen to work with Al Gore on climate change mitigation and solutions? Well, that’s pretty much beyond proud. Wait. … There’s also her ski mountaineering expeditions that she organizes and successfully executes in far-flung places including Bhugan, Argentina, South Africa and Pakistan, among other locales.
Watching Alison ski could allow one to incorrectly assume that she spends all waking hours practicing her turns, but in reality, she spends much of her time working to help save our snow and our planet from Global Warming. She does this by working through her own Save Our Snow Foundation and The Office For Resource Efficiency non-profit organizations.
Alison is a solutions-oriented, proactive person who really won’t tolerate lame excuses or being told no. Which is why there was hope for me at her Rippin Chix clinic.
But first, more about that impossible case study. We’ll need to rewind to March, 2005 to provide a quick synopsis of why I almost = hopeless. Osprey marketing manager Gareth Martins invited me to go on a pack-testing hut trip in the San Juan mountains with Osprey. I immediately balked. “It will be fine,” he told me. “There’s another woman on the trip; Alison Gannett.” Let’s face it; I work for Osprey, I had to go. At least I wouldn’t be the only fem on the trip, aside from my malamute Neve.
While the thought of having Alison on the trip was comforting, no amount of comfort could stop my cruxation over the experience of a three-day hut trip. Why? I just did not see myself as a skier. Maybe I over thought things… Here’s a pic of me using my head while skiing.
I am guilty of pissing away years of potential skiing practice (I’ve lived in the San Juans for 14 years). Instead of working on my skiing, I would choose to snowboard or train on my skate skis. Why? Because I sucked at alpine skiing, and I was reminded of it every time I chose to go backcountry skiing with my husband and our friends. So there I was — no where to go but up, not the best place to be when learning to ski.
I survived the hut trip, and even had fun, because Alison made sure I stopped kicking the S*&^ out of myself for being sub-par with a capital “P.” And, because Alison, Gareth, Sam and Nathan were all hilarious and not judgemental in any way.
But truth be told, on that hut trip, I was not great, or even good – okay, even marginal – going down hill on skis. It did not help that I was testing and skiing with a 35-pound pack on my back (a first for me), or that I was four-weeks pregant and didn’t know it (a def. first on skis). … Or, that we skied tree runs with said pack on my back (again, a first), and in deep powder (okay, you got me, a first again).
I could skin up anything happily, but when it came to going down, well… Train wreck, junk show, craptastic — all are suitable descriptions.
Since that time I have gone skiing more, but still didn’t commit. On the first day of 2009, I found myself following my husband up a backcountry skin track outside of Silverton. I skinned like a champ but star-fished down the entire powder run.
As I unintentionally made snow angels face down in the powder mid-run, I cleared the snow from my mouth and nose, and stated out loud that I’d had enough. “I am ready to change” I snorted. I hit the Rippin Chix website that night and Valentine’s weekend, 2009 can go down in history as the day I learned that I actually was a Rippin Chick. It’s nothing short of miraculous…
(Next post will hit tomorrow, and will cover day 1 of the mind-blowing, two-day Rippin Chix experience).