Words by Krystin Norman | Photos by Ryan French — Get The Girls Out (GTGO) at Crystal Mountain Resort is the original event that first got me interested in volunteering with SheJumps. SheJumps (SJ) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities.
When I first moved to Seattle, I didn’t know any female skiers in the area and wasn’t sure how to find ladies who shared my passion for skiing and adventure. After learning about SJ through my friend Yulia and deciding to volunteer as a regional ambassador, I experienced one of the most fun winter seasons of my life full of friends and SJ events: ski tune-ups and stoke parties at K2 Headquarters in Seattle, International Women’s Ski Day, all-women’s avalanche awareness talks, plenty of resort skiing and backcountry adventures with shred friends, and the pinnacle of a season of stoke…GTGO at Crystal Mountain.
After the 2015 GTGO was cancelled due to significantly below-average snowpack, GTGO 2016 lived up to all that it had been in my mind. It was a day of skiing, riding, smiles, and laughing in the sunshine with tons of stoked ladies with a common passion for skiing, snowboarding, and being on snow in the mountains.
This past weekend on Sunday, March 12th, 2017, I attended my second GTGO event at Crystal Mountain. When the weather forecast called for warm temps and precipitation, I was super worried that GTGO 2017 would be a day of pouring rain, low stoke, not much skiing, and a really really soggy Krystin in a narwhal onesie costume. Fortunately, the stars (or clouds) aligned and the weather held up for the whole day.
After helping with registration and admiring all of the neon-retro, tutu-tastic, and majestic animal onesie outfits being sported by the smiling women and little girls who came out for the event, the ladies hit the slopes in full force. As a Crystal Mountain Freeride Team coach for the 16/17 season, I decided to volunteer by teaching an “Intro to Freeride Skiing” clinic for the morning. I would say that spending the whole morning explaining the elements of freeride skiing to 8 women and finding interesting terrain to ski was difficult, but it absolutely wasn’t. Each of the ladies who attended my mini-clinic were a joy to ski with. I could feel so many vibes of excitement and encouragement between everyone in the group as we focused on body awareness, line-choice, fluidity, and working up the courage and foresight to safely hit natural jump and cliff features on the hill.
When we took a break for lunch, some of the women told me that they were definitely planning to go back to the same spots we had skied that morning to keep practicing in steep terrain and hopefully hit some bigger drops next time! Hearing that much enthusiasm and sense of excitement to challenge oneself is a part of coaching that is so incredibly satisfying and rewarding.
After lunch, Crystal Ski Patrol gave a talk about avalanche and snow safety, and the rest of the day was spent freeskiing with new and familiar friends. I believe at one point we had 20+ women mobbing down Powder Bowl and through the terrain park all at once!
Meanwhile, there were groups skiing with tunes blasting, a scavenger hunt, kids lessons, a piñata, and games for the little kiddies.
The day was topped off with a fundraising gear raffle, packed with tons of prizes for the little ladies and some super sweet donations from our event partners like puffy jackets, helmets, outerwear, and some lucky women even went home with brand new pairs of K2 women’s specific skis!
Overall, Crystal GTGO was a huge success thanks to amazing support from so many local companies and partners, the awesome rock-star volunteers who helped make everything happen, and because so many women and little girls came out to the mountain for a day of pure fun on the slopes.
To anyone who hasn’t had a chance to participate in a SheJumps event, especially our Get The Girls Out events, I highly encourage you to add one to your calendar. Not only are these events a great way to make new friends to adventure outside with, but they are a chance to feel support from the outdoor women’s community and take the jump to challenge yourself, progress, and have so much fun outside with other inspiring women.
International Women’s Ski Day is a wrap! Thanks so much to all the women who contributed to make it amazing. While IWSD events occurred in many places all over the world, here are a few recaps.
Aspen! Laura Merino ripping around, photo by Jordan Curet. We had lots of people out skiing for International Woman’s ski day, and I was skiing around with different girls all day. It was, however, one of the biggest powder days that Aspen has seen! They reported 18 inches or so and it was snowing and socked in a haze of fog almost the entire day, so it was hard to keep track of people, let alone take a lot of pictures. Super fun day!!
Stevens Pass—Over 15 diverse women headed to the pass to celebrate IWSD while braving below normal temperatures. Thanks to a ton of support from Stevens Pass, we were able to offer discounted ski and snowboard lessons to 10 ladies which were taught by women for women. Another group of 6 took off to adventure around the resort in the morning to then reconvene as a full group for lunch in the lodge. It was an awesome day where women had the opportunity to ski and ride with a diverse group of ladies both in age and cultural background.
Europe! Our athletes and Alliance ambassadors enjoyed sun, snow and après throughout the continent. Here are K2 women having a roaring good time in Garmisch, Zauchensee & Ischgl.
Vail! Huge powder day, 5 degrees and tough driving but our stalwart K2 women made it in time for some great turns. Big thanks to Kim Reichhelm for her amazing help, as always!
Kirkwood—Awesome turnout at Kirkwood – 20 women in all! We split up into an advanced/expert group and an intermediate group. The advanced/expert group headed straight up Chair 6 at Kirkwood to an ungroomed steep run and ripped it, egging each other on! We raced each other down the groomer to ski the wind buff on Chair 10. Everyone loved the snow so much on that run we all cheered when it was suggested to do it again. Amy led the intermediate group and Leigh and her daughter joined them – they worked their way up from the groomers on Chairs 5 and 11 to some off piste runs and finished with a run on chair 6. Because women are supreme multi-taskers, our group had to splinter around lunch for various obligations, but everyone made new friends and hopes to ski with a big group of women soon! –Meghan Kelly
Taos, New Mexico—A theme of this year’s IWSD seems to be bitingly cold temperatures.
It was so cold that only half the ladies showed up for the group photo!
We had a clinic on how to wax your skis. Taos Ski Valley, Columbine Inn Friday night.
This was a hit. We had also a beer and ice cream pairing (New Belgium Brewing Ice Cream Social) and we showed Teton Gravity Research Tight Loose movie.
Sunday we repeated all the ski clinics and finished off the IWSD weekend with a Apres-Ski Guided Meditation. Fun weekend! –Susie Geilenfeldt
Alpental—It was COLD on Saturday, but still had so much fun with the ladies that came out. We had about 10 women total and we took a few runs on chair 1 and 2 then went in to have a warm up beverage and did a “cheers” to International Women’s Ski Day. -Jen-ai DeCano
Attitash—It was another successful IWSD! This year K2 New England partnered with Attitash Mountain Resort and the event was held at Bear Peak. The location was ideal – the event demo was close to the lift and lodge. It was easy for us to set up the tent and registration room in advance. We were given dedicated space in the lodge for registration, getting ready and storing our gear. Attitash was great to work with during the development. They gave us discounted tickets (only for IWSD participants) that the ladies could purchase at the event registration.
The weather was amazing with beautiful flakes throughout the day that made for some pretty sweet snowy conditions! Even though we were at a different resort this year – we had many repeat participants from previous IWSD’s. Registration was from 9-10. In order to be part of the official Après party and be eligible for games, raffle prizes and giveaways participants needed to sign-in with us – this also allowed us to capture their information to use for future promotions and events. Participants that needed tickets bought them through us and those that wanted to demo skis also filled out the necessary forms and received their binding settings before heading out to the K2 tent.
Everyone gathered at 10 AM; we made introductions to the K2 Alliance team and talked about the meaning of the day. All dressed and booted up, a certified yoga instructor and skier lead us through a short on-snow yoga and active stretch for injury prevention. All fired up, demo skis dialed in – we all headed up the lift to rip some turns together.
We all met for lunch at the Den pub for some food and to try out our IWSD signature cocktail. Then we met Santa for a quick photo and back out on the hill for more turns. Things wrapped up with our Apres party. We played “pin the goggles on DJ mullet (see photos)”; voted on the best name for our signature IWSD drink (the winning name was: Skigaritta; runner up: Mexican K2 timer) and did raffle prizes. Good times!
There is nothing like this event. The lady stoke is always so amazing to see and experience. Something about having a dedicated ski event just for the women to share their passion for the sport takes away social barriers and age stigma, creates a comfortable space for all abilities to feel relaxed amongst peers, and builds friendships.
Sarah Baer and her daughter Michaela joined us for the day – she saw the advertising for the event and met us for the first time at registration. This is what she had to say: “What a great event! Got to ski with some great ladies, and even met a new friend! Good exposure for my daughter to see the benefit of having fellow women who are committed to skiing together.”
Thanks to all the women who came together to enjoy the mountains. We’re already looking forward to next year!
SEATTLE, WA (November 1, 2016) — Sean Pettit was a child stuck in a pro skier’s body when he initially signed his first contract with K2 Skis at age 12 in 2004. Now, 12 years later, he is one of the most well-known, progressive and dominant influencers on snow. K2 Skis announced a continuation of Pettit’s contract with the Factory Team this week, further positioning him as a premier athlete that will help build the future of the K2 brand.
“K2 has a history of discovering the greatest talents in skiing and helping them develop their careers to reach legend status,” said Hunter Waldron, K2 Sports Global Brand Director. “Sean is on that track. He is part of the family and a big part of our future. He represents everything our company is about. Our goal is to inspire people to get out and enjoy skiing. Sean does that better than anyone. His level of skiing and personality give momentum to our brand and the sport.”
Pettit, who was born in Ottawa and then moved to Whistler, B.C. as a pre-teen to pursue skiing, was first spotted at a local contest and signed by K2. “I didn’t even know what a contract was. I was 12. It was probably the first time I got to use my signature outside of elementary school,” stated Pettit. “If the contract said ‘you will get free skis’ I would have been sold, but it was more than that and has continued to be a major part of my career.”
Over the past decade Pettit has medalled at numerous comps, and has been awarded with the “male skier of the year” award multiple times for his performance in many films. “It’s crazy to be with a brand for half your lifetime,” Pettit commented. “I feel like I’ve grown up with K2 as a childhood friend. I met the brand reps and got my first pair of K2 skis when I was 11. Ever since then we’ve been able to grow together and adapt to how riding styles have evolved. We’ve come a long way.”
Through his agreement with K2, Pettit will continue to be a major player in R&D and graphic development for the brand in addition to representing K2 on the mountain. “Along with his skiing progression, Sean has greatly contributed to the development of a number of breakthrough ski models and technologies over the years and we are excited to see what his brain will come up with next,” Waldron said.
We’ve been going over the primary issues many of us have with ski boots—hard to get into, painful to stand in, and hard to walk around comfortably! The key was to eliminate these issues while still maintaining top-level performance. We’ve unlocked this with the all new K2 B.F.C. ski boot—#BuiltForComfort. Watch the video below!👇
The key elements are a Hands-Free Entry system which allows your foot to slide naturally into the boot; a Natural Stance/Natural Stride profile which promotes natural standing and walking; and an Après Mode which unlocks the upper cuff from the lower shell with the flip of a switch, giving you walkable comfort and convenience once you’re off your skis.
Combine that with our Powerfuse Spyne which adds strength and power through lateral stiffness and fore/aft flex efficiency and you’ve got one of the best performing boots that still allows you to be comfortable and happy all day long. Coming in 2 flex indexes for both men and women, these boots are a revolution in enjoying skiing to the fullest! | #BuiltForComfort
This past winter we made the pilgrimage to the powder Mecca, Utah, to link up with Factory Team leader Pep Fujas. Sean Pettit also came on board as Pep showed us around his home resorts of Snowbird and Alta, followed by some heli time with our friends at Powderbird. Pep and Sean served up their signature high speed, smooth yet aggressive style and we can’t wait to go back for more. | Filmed & edited by Nick Meilleur | Music: “Method” by Bugseed
Boulder, CO – August 4, 2016: The most respected name in action-sports film production, Warren Miller Entertainment has announced its 67th full-length feature film will be titled, “Here, There & Everywhere”. The industry leader also reveals the original filmmaker, narrator and household name Warren Miller himself will appear on-screen in this year’s movie. See the teaser and tour calendar here.
In this 67th annual Warren Miller film, take a freeski voyage with industry veterans Ingrid Backstrom and Wendy Fisher in Crested Butte, tour Eastern Greenland by dog sled with Seth Wescott and Rob Kingwill and follow Jess McMillan and Grete Eliassen on a Swiss holiday aboard the Glacier Express. Explore the backcountry of Western Montana’s Glacier Country with Tyler Ceccanti, Collin Collins and Keith Curtis and catch a powder day with Kaylin Richardson, Matt Elliott, Marcus Caston and the Kicking Horse ski patrol in British Columbia.
Presale tickets will be available September 8-11, 2016 online-only at a discount of $4-off each ticket. General on sale will begin September 12, 2016 both online and at participating retail locations. No fees will be associated with ticket sales at participating retail locations.
Members of the K2 factory team gathered at Timberline this spring to ski the glacier, throw back some cans and have a killer time. After a day of team-building public park destruction, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. The team is way stoked on the new planks and Clayton Vila, Pep Fujas, Sean Jordan, Mark Hendrickson, Brooke Potter and Dylan Sondrup did not hold back with ’em strapped to their feet. Give it a watch! 👆 | #seriousfun
Who We Are: A diverse group of women, all ages, nationwide, with different skiing styles and abilities that come together for the love of the sport, and to assist in the development process of K2’s women’s specific ski equipment.
The Allliance is the first industry program of it’s kind, ever. And the crazy thing is, it’s still pretty much the only one. Our biggest goal besides making great product is to act as an example for other ski companies to support women. Because who doesn’t want more girls involved in the sport?
Take your average lift line on a pow day. Hand pick the ones with the lucky extra X chromosome, put them in a line up and there you have a cross section of what the Alliance squad looks like. Just a little bit of everything!
A 14-year-old from Estonia who barely speaks English (and also happens to be one of the most decorated female skiers ever), teenage high schoolers barely more focused on skiing than boys, PSIA level 3 instructors, freeride rippers stronger than you’ll ever be, to grandmas in their mid-60s.
From park skiers to big mountain skiers, resort focused to dedicated backcountry girls, the K2 Ski Alliance is the perfect mix of women to contribute to a product line that is as diverse as the group of ladies developing it.
As far apart as we are from each other, we are a family. We communicate with each other and our ski engineers to produce the best product on the market. We make mistakes and are happy to admit it. We learn from them and fully embrace the process of trial and error.
Overall, we aim to provide a sense of community to our customers; for them to feel like they are a part of something bigger, an Alliance of like-minded females, no matter what the level of skiing is or where they live in the world.
The Three Tiers of the Alliance:
Research and Development, i.e. R&D: These girls work with K2 engineers and designers to dream up, test and create the next wave of future product.
Regional Alliance: A network of women around the world who are local brand ambassadors. These girls work with their territory reps to spread the K2 luv on hill, at their local shops and at events and demos in their region.
Athletes: These ladies represent K2 in the spotlight and each contribute to the brand’s personality on and off the mountain. We look to these girls to give us product feedback in order to help us design and promote the gear they use and love.
Then there is you. If you like K2, if you identify yourself as a female and you want to be part of this collective, then welcome to the family. We are hooked on skiing and want to share our passion with you.
Let’s hear the truth about these so-called “women’s” products you make:
What does it actually mean to have women’s specific product?
It means the gear performs at the optimal level because it’s built with the female skier in mind. It is product with features designed specifically for girls from concept to creation (engineering to graphic production).
What actually goes into making women’s specific product?
Check out the testing blurb below. It’s a wild process. And it’s a long one. But we like doing it and we hope you like what we make for you! Out of the gates to the finish line, we try and make sure females are involved in each and every product we make.
Are all women’s K2 products different than the men’s product?
Depending on the needs of the product, there are shared innovations between the categories.
For example, a few of our women’s skis share the same construction as the men’s version. Why is this? When a good engineering concept is born and proven to be successful, we may use it across a spectrum of products.
Don’t forget we produce skis, boots, poles, helmets, goggles and accessories! We can proudly say though, that our entire women’s product line is tested and approved by girls, with most items having a unique build for the gals.
How specific to women are these products?
It depends on what we’re talking about. For skis, it can vary in the materials used (different types of wood, metal, urethane or carbon compounds), stature or weight of the incorporated bindings, type of steel edge, style of tip protector, color of the sidewall, texture of the topsheet, ink variations of the graphic, flex profile, aesthetic of the logo and much more!
Other product categories have components that are built specifically to fit a woman’s body: pole grips designed for women, boot liners and cuff heights, helmet shapes, goggle frames, etc. The list goes on and on.
In the rare case that the construction doesn’t vary much from the men’s version, you can be sure everything else about the product will be tailored specifically for the female customer.
What is the bigger picture?
Well of course the goal is to make gear that makes you comfortable and confident on the slopes. We are here to help you have a good time because #seriousfun is what it’s all about, right?
The Alliance also has input on graphic concepts and designs, model names, marketing initiatives, social content and collaboration, as well as events.
>K2 proudly started International Women’s Ski Day in 2013, which has grown into a grassroots, worldwide celebration. Follow along with us by checking out the hashtag #IWSD.
>>Thank you for taking the time to learn about the Ski Alliance. We take great pride in this program and hope that it inspires you to spend more time in the mountains.
>>>Keep up with us on social media and make sure to hop on the chairlift with one of the Alliance members if you have the chance. In all that we do, we #luvk2!
For over 15 years, K2 Sports has supported the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). To date, K2 has contributed over $1,150,000.00 to research efforts. To show additional support, we proudly place a pink ribbon on our women’s skis.
A glance at the TEST life:
Before the R&D Alliance gets on snow, we meet in house to go over concept designs. The engineers present their ideas to the Alliance and get initial feedback. They tweak their comps as needed and produce a huge round of prototypes for testing. For this purpose, we’re going to focus on skis.
Because we’re working on product a full year and half before it hits the ski wall at shops, the prime time for testing is in the spring and summer. At Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Hood in Oregon, we average four trips over the testing season and typically there are five or six of us, depending on the amount of prototypes we have.
You may have read about the process at magazine tests (producing your fall Buyer’s Guide results) but our method is quite a bit different, and maybe a bit more intense.
An example test day would be waking up at 5:15 or so to be out of the door by 6am. Chugging coffee in the car and scarfing down a bagel, we arrive at the mountain and get briefed by our engineers on what category skis we will be working with for the day. They hand out waterproof test cards and pencils and talk to us about the test groups. There are four groupings of skis on average, with each group usually having five or six skis. Groups are identified by letters: A, B, C, etc. and skis are numbered 1, 2, 3 and so on.
In the A group for example, the engineer may say, “Group A has 85mm-waisted, metal laminate skis. You are to focus on overall versatility and performance.” They tell us that while skiing, think about, for example, how the tips feel- are they damp and solid with good initiation? Or are you feeling/seeing some chatter going on? How is the edge hold of the ski on hard pack? Enough camber? Does the ski feel damp enough in the variable snow?
The engineers have specific questions for each group of skis. After briefing us on the day’s fleet, we break up into pairs or small groups depending on boot size.
Tip: if we group girls together by their boot sizes, then we don’t have to adjust the bindings as many times i.e making each run transition go more smoothly.
During these tests, time is so valuable. We have to ensure we get up for first chair so the mountain is as empty as possible and snow conditions are prime.
When we head to the lift, we are usually carrying at least three pair of skis and have a backpack full of goodies- a screwdriver, an extra pairs of gloves, a spare Goretex jacket, water, a snack and an extra goggle lens just in case.
(The weather in Oregon during the spring and summer is extremely variable).
Sometimes we’re testing in 70 degree weather on the glacier and sometimes it’s 30 degrees, pouring rain and no visibility.
The skis we’re testing are all masked with a white top sheet. We are encouraged to not look down at the models we’re testing. It’s all supposed to be about feeling and getting to know what you like and do not like about the ski in one to two runs. Why ski each ski for such a limited time? The goal is to not adjust your skiing style to the ski but to go off of your initial feelings about the prototype.
Usually, you can tell what you’re feeling in the ski within the first ten turns. The things you don’t like scream out at you and the things you do like are noticed right away. You make mental notes throughout the run, solidifying your feelings and continuing to change up your turn shape and speed so that you can get a feel for the model in varying styles of skiing, putting yourself in the mindset of the person that that ski is being designed for. Are you a beginner that is comfortable on only greens and maybe some blue runs? If so, you’re going to ski slower in longer and wider turns with less carving and probably not in soft or off-piste snow. Or are you an ex-racer, looking to flex and really work the ski? Seeing how well it lays over and how well you’re able to initiate your turn.
The testers also need to take many things into account such as the weather and snow conditions that are changing throughout the test day, as well as the lengths of the test skis and even small things such as the weight of the demo bindings on them. Every little thing warrants an extra consideration.
After the day of testing is complete, we head down from the mountain to do our debrief with the engineers. At this point we have ranked which ski we like best and why, to our least favorite and why. We go over the results as a group and so ensues the afternoon of back and forth conversation of why one prototype skied the way it did. Or why one that in theory should be so similar to the one before, skied so differently. The engineers then divulge the varying construction profiles of each of the skis and we compare the K2 protos to the competitor benchmarks.
After all is said and done from three days of repeatedly testing the same prototypes, hopefully the Alliance team has decided on a direction for the next round of test skis. The engineers and in house team drives back to our headquarters in Seattle and gets to work producing a new fleet of skis with the desired changes. This process continues over the spring + summer months until the new models have been fine-tuned and are signed off for production.
It’s a lengthy process, but as mentioned earlier, we love it and hope that you enjoy the product that really is developed by women, for women.
Upon arrival at the Powderbird Heli Port, we were welcomed with smiles, hot coffee and a smorgasbord of delicious breakfast dishes. After eating and drinking our fill we met with Mike Morris, our guide for the day. Besides being a badass skier and knowing the Wasatch range like the back of his hand, Mike is a hell of a nice guy and we were beyond stoked to have him show us around.
Conditions were all time—bluebird sky, fresh pow and the mountains to ourselves. What resulted was lots of adrenaline, high fives, pow slashes and good times! Check out the video below.
“A big, toothy grin cracked across Coombs’s face as he studied the mountains sprawling around him. The smile barely fit on his face. As long as he had been able to stand in ski boots, all he had ever wanted to do was make turns through snow. His passion for skiing and for being in these mountains radiated from his lanky, six-foot-two-inch frame like a force field, and whoever came into his presence got sucked right in by his charisma, infectious optimism, and undeniable talent. To see him navigate down a mountain was to witness perfection in motion, to watch a man fulfill his very purpose on this earth.”
April 3rd of this month was the 10 year anniversary of legendary ski mountaineer Doug Coombs’ passing. As we observe this milestone, Robert Cocuzzo has written a biography of Doug’s life; detailing not only his accomplishments in skiing but also the man himself. For more info and to preorder the book, go here.
Furthermore, the New York Times has written an excellent tribute article in remembrance of Doug, which can be found here. Read the article, preorder the book, and above all, enjoy the mountains the way Coombs did.