Ski town culture can often be characterized by a fondness and appreciation for Ullr, the Norse god of winter. We thank him on powder days, celebrate him with festivals held in his name - heck, we dance for him in times of drought. I even had a friend burn an old pair of skis in his name as a sacrificial offering this past November when things were looking warm and dry.
But what about Skadi? According to Norse mythology, the goddess of winter lives high in the mountains where the snow never melts and skis are perpetually strapped to her feet. Skadi even left her husband, Njord, who couldn't take the cold and solitude of mountain life, in favor a humble existence with her bow, snowshoes, and token shred-sticks. Poor Njord, always playing second fiddle to fresh tracks and face shots.
It only seems fitting, then, that Vail's second annual ski festival for women is named after this confident and winter-minded diety, with three days planned around bringing together females on and off the hill. Skadi Vail Women's Ski Fest runs from December 14-16, with everything from morning yoga, ladies-specific ski demos, guided on-mountain clinics, and plenty of giveaways throughout the whole experience on the itinerary for Skadi's namesake celebration. Daytime meet and greets will also be available for women throughout the day to bond with other female skiers, and get tips on the sport from industry professionals and gear experts.
"What’s so unique about this event is that it unites women around a common passion for experiences on-mountain and off-mountain," says Brooke Skjonsby, a "brand experience manager" at Vail Mountain. "Due to the fact that we’ve seen a tremendous decline of females who are engaged in the sport across the industry, events like Skadi Vail are essential in encouraging first-timers to give skiing a try or bringing women back to skiing after a hiatus."
The event is open to all ability levels, and individuals or groups of girlfriends already immersed in skiing culture are encouraged to attend, with the newest demos being a major perk for more-seasoned participants.
And while Skadi Fest's focus will be getting women on the right equipment and on the mountain, signature events are aimed at keeping the focus on skiing, in an off-the-hill setting. Wednesday night's line up features appetizers and drinks before a viewing of "Between," an all-women's ski film from Red Bull featuring a cast of notable faces, including Vail local Julia Mancuso. Thursday's wine and cheese pairing should be a good opportunity to refuel after two days on the hill, before live music from Hardscrabble at the Evergreen Lodge. Both nights benefit Pink Vail, with funds raised from each evening's silent auction going towards the world's biggest ski day to conquer cancer, held on Vail Mountain each spring.
The idea is to celebrate women's involvement in all levels of skiing, and bring females together around the sport. Maybe that results in watching an all-female ski movie with a group of friends, or finally finding a pair of skis to confidently crush groomers; it's all relative, but the hope is that the dwindling number of females involved in the sport starts to tick in the other direction with events specific to women added to resorts' seasonal calendars. And really, how often is it that you get the chance to hit the hill without the pressure of keeping up with the boys - or leading the pack - and simply get a ski day with the ladies? RSVP is mandatory for the event, with different price points available - just remember to leave Njord at home. Dec. 14-16, Vail Mountain; vail.com/events/skadi