The Next Level Ski Camp (aka, 72 hours in Tahoe)

So I survived the Next Level ski camp at Squaw Valley last weekend! Heh.

Going into camp, I was nervous about skiing with pro skiers Ingrid Backstrom and Jessica Sobolowski-Quinn. When I rolled into the meeting room early Saturday morning, I was armed with a day of skiing on ice pebbles in Pennsylvania, a day of sliding around trees at Northstar with a handful of ladies I know from, a wicked good pep talk from my friend Mary, and gratitude that camp would be starting off with 45 minutes of yoga.

At least I knew my downward facing dog from my uttanasana.

I walked into the meeting area, and within seconds, Jessica greeted me. Actually, she said something like, “This is Stephanie from Washington, DC.” Wow. Sure, she had handled my registration form and check, so she knew where I was from, but still. I mean, it’s great to be “known” right off the bat. Minutes later, I met Ingrid. I write “met” because I didn’t really expect her to remember me from a meet and greet in DC over a year earlier (later, on the lift, Ingrid would also remember that the Soigneur – who has been reassigned to something between Ski Tech and Real Estate Agent – was with me at the meet and greet, and that his sister had a connection with Ingrid). Wow, again.

So yoga. Coincidentally, I had ski envy every time I was in downward facing dog because I could check out everyone’s skis…and they all looked waaay fatter than mine. And then the part of the camp at which I wouldn’t make a total fool of myself was over, and we hit the slopes. Yikes.

It was two days after a storm, and the conditions were holding up. We skied. It was steep. It was sometimes scary. Ingrid and Jess were super supportive. I had moments of fleeting greatness. We got videoed, and I cringed when watching it. And of course, one or two runs after the tape stopped rolling, everything clicked for me on a mogul run. Holy cow. I just skied bumps like I was born with skis on my feet. Bliss.

It was awesome to ski with Ingrid and Jess and to see up close how confidently one can actually move down lines. Ingrid’s of similar size and build as me, so it was particularly motivating to see her ski. And, I still can’t believe that I got to ski with her. But the best part of camp for me was that the Squaw Women of Winter instructors who skied with us for the weekend were both of Asian descent.

NEWS FLASH: I’m Asian American.

I don’t think about my race on a daily basis (and it’s probably healthy not to, for that matter), and I know that my friends think of me as “Stephanie” without any racial or ethnic modifier. But, I can’t even begin to express how awesome it was for me that the two instructors with us for the weekend were Asian Pacific American women. These women ripped, and they looked like me!

Maybe on the west coast, female APA skiers who rip are a dime a dozen. But I’ve lived all but 6 months of my life on the east coast. I’ve skied with APA skiers, but I’ve never had a female APA ski instructor (granted, I’ve taken like six lessons in my life, but still). I’ve no doubt that The Next Level still would have been a blast with instructors other than Julie and Fran. However, having them there gave me unintentional (I think) and subtle assurance, inspiration, and motivation.

It’s the eve of both Martin Luther King’s birthday (observed) and the second Inauguration of the country’s first African American President, but it took a ski camp 2800 miles away from Washington to remind me of the importance of having role models who look like us to inspire and motivate us to become our best selves.

See you on the slopes!

2 thoughts on “The Next Level Ski Camp (aka, 72 hours in Tahoe)

  1. Sounds all good! It must've been an awesome group of gals. I read with interest how the APA instructors rang a chord in you. I'm white, but as a first-gen American, have a raised consciousness about my background, I guess you could say. I don't know any other girl or woman with my background who skis with a passion.

  2. It was subtle…the impact of the instructors being APA wasn't even apparent to me until I was nearly done writing the first draft of this post. I suspect my sentiments are easily transferable to any arena where one feels like they're the “only” person doing something!

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