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Last week, upwards of 50 women converged in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Elevate Women’s Ski Camp. From New York to California, Memphis to Chicago, these ladies came to Teton Village to ski together for a week. Local ski pros Jess McMillan, Crystal Wright, and Kim Havell instructed the camp, showing the visiting skiers—and local women participating in the camp—little nooks and crannies throughout Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
The goals for the week: pushing limits, facing fears, getting out of comfort levels, and making new friends. And, by all accounts, it sounds like the missions were accomplished!
“There’s a totally different dynamic when it’s a group made up only of women,” said pro skier Jess McMillan. “Everyone is cheering each other on, screaming and clapping, and it’s super supportive. We worked hard to give these women the skill set and confidence to push themselves.”
The ladies couldn’t have asked for better conditions during the Elevate Ski Camp. Things got underway on Monday, January 13 with the Tetons caked beneath feet of fresh snow. The powder was deep, the skies were gray, and everyone was excited to get after it. Eventually, the clouds broke and the temps warmed up as the week progressed, and by Thursday and Friday the women were skiing beneath bluebird skies on spring-like conditions.
“This week was a really cool mix of weather, conditions, and people,” said pro skier Kim Havell. “It was awesome to start off with soft snow and then have sunshine. Each group had an amazing breakthrough or moment. We explained how to breakdown a challenging run, and by the end of the week some pretty serious in-bounds lines had been ticked off.”
Tower 3 Chute, Mushroom chutes, and Alta Chutes 1 through 3 were skied. “One of the more memorable moments from this year’s camp,” says pro skier Crystal Wright, “was when a few of the women wanted to work on linking a few pillows together in Mushroom Chutes, rather than side-slipping them. We talked about technique, about facing your fears and getting out of your comfort levels, and about how to be in control in challenging terrain. The women ended up linking a few pillows together, landing centered on their skis, and stomped it. They were so psyched!”
A day off from skiing on Wednesday gave the women a chance to rest and relax between the powder on Monday and Tuesday, and the blue skies on Thursday and Friday. Some women spent time skiing anyways, some spent the day at the Solitude Spa in the Teton Mountain Lodge, some headed into Jackson to explore, and some jumped on snowmobiles for tour of Grand Teton National Park.
“The environment is unlike any other camp I’ve attended,” said Sasha Zolick, who has attended Elevate twice. “It’s for women, by women. There’s no judgement and everyone is totally encouraging. The pros push you, and I’ve met some great friends. I really love it!”
On Friday, a film was presented that captured a lot of the week’s action. Straightlines through chutes, pillows being dropped, high fives and laughs, costumes and hilarious antics. A shotski was passed and shared amongst new friends. And, the pros spoke about the awesome experience. Then, Kim Havell stood up to talk about how facing your fears is all relative, and pro skiers deal with similar emotions and fears all the time. She made the connection with Jackson Hole’s Crystal Wright who was headed to Europe to compete in the Freeride World Tour stop in Chamonix. Just like the campers who pushed themselves and challenged themselves to face their fears, Crystal would be doing the same in the Alps. The room erupted in hoots and hollers, showing their support of Crystal as she heads off to the big-mountain freeskiing comp.