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

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.

Launched 15 years ago, Women of Whitetail has grown so much in recent years that the instructors added a second session in the 2018-2019 season to meet the demand. The popular program reflects a larger industry effort to appeal to women — especially moms like Beeland, whose kids are already skiing — by creating women-specific ski programs.

Nationally, the number of women participating in downhill skiing is growing, and resorts have taken notice. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of women in skiing increased by 7.2 percent — to 4.7 million — while the percentage of men in skiing decreased by 13.3 percent to 6.9 million, according to data from Snowsports Industries America (SIA).

 Getting more women on the slopes is also good for business: Industry surveys indicate that women are often the primary decision-maker on family vacations, and SIA estimates that women control between 70 and 80 percent of all ski-related consumer spending. As part of the outreach to women, Vail Resorts, which owns Whitetail, Roundtop and Liberty in Pennsylvania, began offering women-only lessons at most of its 37 ski resorts.

For example, it started its Women Ultimate 4 ski lessons at four of its Colorado resorts — Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone — in the 2014-2015 season. Other resorts that have provided women-specific instruction include Snowbird in Utah, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Telluride in Colorado, Killington in Vermont and Jackson Hole in Wyoming.

Now comes 2020, and a ski season like no other. Among the safety measures being adopted by many U.S. resorts is the modification of group ski instruction. Decisions are still being made, but as of press time, Whitetail and Vail itself had canceled adult group lessons, and other resorts in the chain were expected to follow. Snowbird was still planning to hold its three-day women’s camps this year and its Wednesday morning women’s group beginning in January.

When Whitetail announced the cancellation in October, the participants immediately began lobbying the resort to reconsider.


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Gift boxes and cookery classes for Christmas cuisine at home

This is the Christmas gift that people who love food will be hoping to find under their tree this year. But not everyone will be so lucky, because there are only 365 of them available. Fionntán Gogarty’s Wildwood Vinegars Four Season gift boxes are individually numbered and each contains a barrel-aged balsamic which Gogarty says “captures the essence of its season”.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

The beautifully presented collection is made up of wild elderflower and wild rose petal for spring, wild mountain thyme and wild fuchsia blossom for summer, wild blackberry for autumn (aged for six years) and wild elderberry with star anise for winter (also aged for six years).

The gift box costs €80 and is exclusively available from husseysfarm.com for delivery nationwide.

Watch and learn

Gareth Mullins, executive head chef at the Marker Hotel in Dublin, put the spring lockdown to great use, developing a strong following for his cooking videos and recipes on Instagram. Now he has developed what he describes as an online “watch and learn cookery experience”, sold in cycles of four chapters, going live on Monday evenings at 7.30.

Chef Gareth Mullins has developed an online “watch and learn cookery experience”.
Chef Gareth Mullins has developed an online “watch and learn cookery experience”.

An upcoming series, Christmas Classics, will address everything you need to know about cooking for the festive season. The four programmes, beginning on Monday, November 23rd, will cover canapes and drinks, starters and sides, main course turkey and ham, and desserts.

The classes are hosted on Zoom and an interactive Q&A with Mullins runs via Zoom Chat throughout the class. A link to the video is sent to participants, so if you miss a class, you can watch it later or refer back when cooking. Each module costs €20 and the series of four is available for €60.

“I will focus on skills as much as the recipes but I truly think Christmas cooking should be fun. I am also sharing some ideas to get the kids involved in the cooking because at the end of the day Christmas is about family, good food and enjoyment,” Mullins says. For more information, email [email protected]

Cocktail enthusiast

Cork-based food stylist and photographer, Monika Coghlan, has written her first book, Craft Cocktails, in which she shares recipes and beautiful images of 50 drinks made with Irish spirit brands from right across the country, as well as background stories about the people making them. Up your “locktail” game with this lovely, self-published work or gift it to a cocktail enthusiast. On sale from November 13th, it costs €24.95 (plus postage and packaging) from pepperazzie.ie.

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The top women’s college basketball prospects in the Classes of 2022, ’23 and ’24

We released our top 100 women’s college basketball prospect rankings in the Class of 2021 in early September, a list headlined by guard Azzi Fudd.

Now it is time to break down the Classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024.

Each of those classes is rich in talent and has players with vast potential who can impact the women’s college basketball landscape in the years to come. But which players stand out the most as of right now? Here are the players to keep an eye on in each class.

Class of 2022

1. C Lauren Betts
Grandview High School (Colorado)

Size is a coveted premium in basketball, and the 6-foot-7 Betts has that. Couple that with her current talent and vast potential, and she is the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2022.

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Defensively, her height and wingspan give her a chance to block — or at least impact — any shot within an 8-to-10-foott radius. She has improved her footwork and technique, gained strength and also learned how to foul less.

Offensively, she has developed considerably over the past year. Betts is finishing her shots better, rebounding more and extending her soft touch out to the top of the key. She understands the timing of the high-low game as a passer and is better at playing out of the double team.

Betts narrowed her list of schools to nine on July 31: Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, Baylor, Arizona State and South Carolina.

2. F Janiah Barker
Tampa Bay Tech Senior High School (Florida)

Barker is arguably the most naturally talented player in this class. She has been a skilled and smooth operator since she first burst on the scene. At 6-3, she has the frame and size to play the game for a long time.

Over the course of the last year, she has separated herself from the rest of the pack. Not only can she put the ball on the deck and play out of change of direction moves, but she can also catch opponents for an advantageous post up, pull up for a nice midrange jumper and attack the offensive glass.

On the defensive end, Barker is mobile enough to guard essentially anyone on the floor, a huge advantage now that there is so much switching and spacing in the game.

3. W Ayanna Patterson
Homestead High School (Indiana)

Much like her 2022 classmates mentioned above, Patterson has an elite combination of speed and jumping. Two months ago, she showcased that with a two-handed dunk after only a couple of approach dribbles.

Beyond that, Patterson has refined her skills and played more consistently. She plays well off the dribble to create her own shot and is almost impossible to guard in transition. The 6-3 Patterson has added a nice pull-up jumper and become a threat out to the 3-point line as well. That adds to her versatility, as she has a nice post-up

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