SOLITUDE, Utah — The ski industry has always had hurdles to jump when providing access to diverse people. The first and most obvious hurdle is the cost; beyond that, it could simply be a matter of opportunity. Through partnerships with SheJumps, Share Winter Foundation, Natives Outdoors, and Ski Utah’s Discover Winter Program, Solitude Mountain Resort aims to break down barriers precluding many from enjoying winter sports by offering multi-week programs.
Multi-week programs can significantly affect participants, with many rising from first-timers to intermediate-level or higher by the end. Introducing skiing or snowboarding to someone and then offering continued development produces a safer environment for all to enjoy. Solitude’s Women on Wednesday clinics are a prime example of this. They last six weeks and are available for all skier and snowboarder ability levels.
“Providing a place where women belong is key to keeping them coming back. Guess who controls much of the family’s leisure time? The mom. It’s often women who help get everyone else to the resort and then find they are left behind. ‘I need to keep up with the kids’ or ‘I need a little me time on the hill’ are common sentiments. Finding other women who ski or ride at the same level can also be a challenge. Women’s programming brings women of like abilities together so they can create a community and share their experiences without feeling like they are held back or holding others back. If we can make our resorts and programming welcoming for this critical part of our guest population, we will have advocates that keep people coming back to enjoy our mountain playground,” said Ski and Ride School Training Manager Maggie Loring.
For children, the YMCA’s Youth Instructional Ski and Snowboarding program offers a one-stop shop for parents in which their children, ages 8 through 17, can experience winter sports. The program spans multiple weeks, with each session consisting of 2-hour lessons, lift tickets, and rental equipment, all at a discounted price.
“The multi-week aspect of this program has been crucial to its success,” says Dan Healy, Solitude’s VP of recreational services. “A single day on the mountain simply isn’t enough to build the foundation these kids need. Spreading the instruction across four Sundays creates a much more effective learning environment.”
Once children age out of the program, participants are encouraged to enroll in the PSIA-AASI Junior Instructor Program that Solitude Mountain Resort hosts. Graduates of the program will receive a nationally recognized certificate, gain experience shadowing instructors, and learn teaching skills.
“Our staff looks forward to hosting the Junior Instructor Program each season. They have a blast showing the next generation of instructors how much fun a career on the mountain can be,” said Loring. “These teens may not have seen this industry as a career path for multiple reasons. This program shows them that they do belong here, and we see many of them return to the mountain as employees in the future.” This season, six Junior Instructor Program participants were hired as instructors at Solitude.
Solitude has long been a local favorite among skiers and snowboarders, and its popularity has only grown since the introduction of the Ikon Pass. From Honeycomb Canyon to the fast-moving Summit Chair, the resort offers many challenging lines for experienced skiers and snowboarders and has terrain suitable for beginner and intermediate skill levels.
For information on the programs and how to register, see the Solitude Mountain Resort website.