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5 Women in Snow Sports to Follow This Winter

Who are today’s role models in snowsports–and what does being a role model mean? Ski media has traditionally told us that our role models should charge down the steepest lines, bag the highest peaks, and brag about their conquests with the world. 

But what if being a role model wasn’t just about pursuing the most unattainable objectives? What if being a role model exemplified more than just athletic prowess? And what if snowsports wasn’t just about individual achievement, but the relationships we share with each other as much as the places we visit?

This winter, I want to see snow sports media evolve: I challenge you, as much as the ski industry, to highlight more than just stories of individual achievement or individual representation. Let’s go deeper, as a community, and expose why we do what we do and dig into who we do it for.

This winter, follow these 5 women in snow sports: they’re shaking things up and redefining what it means to be a role model in the ski industry.

Community Builder: Alyssa Gonzalez 

I first met Alyssa through Instagram(she’s @__alyssagonzalez) in early 2020 and was immediately intrigued: who was this PSIA-certified Hispanic-SE Asian digital designer and athlete? She skis. She designs. She organizes and inspires. Following her journey for nearly two years now, I’ve loved watching Alyssa lean into organizing women-specific and BIPOC-specific programming through Women of Winter, Roam Festival, and Trail Mixed Collective.

What I love about Alyssa isn’t just the open heart with which she embraces and builds community—it’s also the vulnerability and badassery that she shares and documents in her journey as a community builder, advocate, designer, and model.

Ski Instructor: Annette Diggs

As the founder of Edge Outdoors, Annette Diggs, isn’t like most other ski instructors at Stevens Pass. She just won Vail Resorts’ award for community service for the 20/21 season as an advocate for historically underrepresented communities. As a Black woman, she’s used her platform as an instructor to actively diversify skiing in the Pacific Northwest. In 2020 she founded EDGE PNW, an “initiative created to address the invisibility of Black, Indigenous, Women of Color in snow sports.  The lack of inclusion in snow sports is directly related to past discriminatory law at the local, state, and federal levels that was purposely designed to exclude Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color from mountain spaces.”

Her organization provides “scholarships to cultivate inclusivity, bestow equity and justice, promote the normalization of Black and Brown bodies on mountain spaces, and create a community of Women of Color that can thrive and lead.”

A great communicator and community builder as much as ski instructor, Annette, makes waves in the ski community.

Find Annette on Instagram as @edge_pnw and @yo_annamae

Guide: Erin Laine

Growing up in rural Southern Colorado’s potato fields, Erin was surrounded by challenging landscapes; from seemingly endless farm chores to towering mountains that surrounded the valley where she grew up. Maybe it was a combination of the resilience she learned as a child, or a love of sharp winds, that led her to embrace growth and change. 

Currently the Safety Director at San Juan Expeditions, Erin has guided all over the world, including in Japan, the Chilean Andes, Iceland, Idaho, and all over Colorado. A wilderness EMT, AMGA aspirant ski guide, apprentice alpine guide, AIARE avalanche course instructor, and WFA & WFR instructor, Erin has also worked beyond mountain spaces: she’s fulfilled safety roles in television productions, elevating communication and protocol even during the pandemic.

What I love about Erin is her never-ending partnership, open-heartedness, and desire to create inclusive and supportive cultures in and beyond skiing. These traits, and so many more, set her apart from many other women in guiding: she’s walking the talk.

Find Erin on Instagram as @_erinlaine (and stay tuned for our future collaborations together!).

Festival Organizer: Liz Sahagún and All-In Ice Festival Founder

A neuroscientist y mujer montañera (mountain woman), Liz Sahagún is a Mexican-American badass. As both a scientist and climber, she’s no stranger to exclusive, male-dominated spaces that risk the emotional safety and long-term success of women and BIPOC.

A believer in self-efficacy, “an individual’s confidence in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal….this concept was originally developed by Albert Bandura…and is linked to [both] academic achievement and the ability to overcome phobias” (read more here), Liz (whose roots tie her to Jalisco, MX) aims to shift the landscape in both academia and climbing. As an advocate for diversity and inclusion in both spaces, her goals include becoming a neuroscience and behavior professor and training to be an “alpine guide to promote diversity in outdoor leadership”—one of the reasons why she’s a part of Scarpa North America’s Athlete Mentorship Initiative.

One of the key steps to supporting that second goal? Join Liz’s inaugural ice festival affinity space, All In Ice Festival in January 2022. Serving BIPOC and disabled climbers, All In will grow the community of historically marginalized ice climbers, provide professional development opportunities for guides, and celebrate the very communities this festival seeks to serve.

Learn more about Liz and All In via Instagram @eliz_sahagun @allinicefest 

A believer in self-efficacy, “an individual’s confidence in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal….this concept was originally developed by Albert Bandura…and is linked to [both] academic achievement and the ability to overcome phobias” (read more here), Liz (whose roots tie her to Jalisco, MX) aims to shift the landscape in both academia and climbing. As an advocate for diversity and inclusion in both spaces, her goals include becoming a neuroscience and behavior professor and training to be an “alpine guide to promote diversity in outdoor leadership”—one of the reasons why she’s a part of Scarpa North America’s Athlete Mentorship Initiative.

One of the key steps to supporting that second goal? Join Liz’s inaugural ice festival affinity space, All In Ice Festival in January 2022. Serving BIPOC and disabled climbers, All In will grow the community of historically marginalized ice climbers, provide professional development opportunities for guides, and celebrate the very communities this festival seeks to serve.

Coach: Sasha Dingle

Sasha is a powerhouse, plain and simple. The founder and director of Mountain Mind Project, “she facilitates mindfulness programs to an international client audience in the areas of leadership development, healthcare, education, and sports mental fitness.” But Sasha isn’t just a meditation and mental health coach, she’s also a decorated freeride skier, mountain biker, and ski racer. She uses her background in adventure sports to help others find their mind-body-spirit bridge, too.

Sasha shares that she’s “working toward a paradigm shift of every mind empowered to engage with life.” In her social media content, as much as her work with corporate and government entities both in the USA and abroad, Sasha shares both nuggets and volumes of insight from which all of us can benefit.

Meditation, mindfulness, and personal mastery are all components of our mountain practices, and coaches like Sasha reveal the process to refining each and every facet in her work. 

Find Sasha on Instagram as @MountainMindProject and @SashaDingle

Planning the Season: Follow Women You Admire

Last season taught me the importance of following strong, connected, communally-minded women because they reflect the best of what I want to see in myself. 

So take a moment to give each of these ladies a Follow, and let us know: did we miss anyone else that fits the bill?

Here’s to the season, and being the best we’ve ever been.

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro

Athlete and storyteller Dani Reyes-Acosta aims to inspire individual action and collective communion through self-care and self-determination found in the outdoors. After leaving cushy corporate life to find her way back to her roots, she ticked rock climbs and ski lines across Argentina, Chile, Canada, and the USA on a circuitous path to self-actualization. Find her online as @NotLostJustDiscovering or via DaniReyesAcosta.com

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