Find Your Inner Diva

Day one of DIVAS

Day one of DIVAS -- the terrific coaching team motivates the group

The standard definition of the word di·va  [dee-vuh, -vah] is: Italian, literally, goddess, feminine of the divine, god. The term has evolved in modern times to describe famous female opera singers (no idea why) and then devolved to a term for a woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all.

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

But there is another definition of DIVAS, specific to Sun Valley: Idahoan, “Die Incredible Vimin Alpine Shredders.” And for 90 local women skiers, this is the only definition that matters. Sun Valley’s DIVAS are skiers of intermediate ability and above who take part in an eight-week clinic, skiing one day a week with a rotating cadre of some of the mountain’s best coaches. It’s women teaching women and it’s such a big success, that in its third year, DIVAS has a wait list. According to Snowsports Supervisor Nick Maricich, the DIVAS program is the top women’s clinic in the country and is being emulated by many other resorts. Yay us!

What makes the program so popular? The answer is as diverse as the skiers. In a pre-season questionnaire sent out by DIVAS co-founder and Sun Valley skiing royalty, Danielle Crist Carruth, each woman was asked what she hoped to get out of the clinic. Possibilities ranged from improving bump technique, to improving confidence; from skiing with the girls and making new friends, to getting away from the kids for three hours. I just appreciated being asked what I wanted for a change and chose D: all of the above.

This Monday morning, on day one, I joined 29 other shredders at the base of the Warm Spring Lodge. In my second year of the program, I was excited to be there. My inaugural year as a DIVA was not only a huge boon to my ability to carve pretty round turns, I also met some great people and laughed – a lot. This year, with the goal of finally conquering moguls and pulverizing powder, I took my turn skiing down in front of a slew of coaches, praying I didn’t fall or disqualify myself from the group that also wanted to ski varied terrain.

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

I was placed with five fun women  who shared similar goals. The always positive, extremely helpful and very entertaining DIVAS co-founder Nicky Elsbree was my coach du jour. Each week is themed and the focus on Monday was balance – apropos for women at the beginning of a New Year. For the next two-and-a-half hours, Nicky helped us work on our balance from every angle.

Being a DIVA is an exercise in balance in itself. Most of the 90 women up there every Monday, Tuesday or Friday are balancing multiple commitments, from jobs to children to spouses and volunteer gigs. The three hours we carve out each week for ourselves, carries over to everything else. As one of my fellow DIVAS said on the lift, the valley spread out beneath us, if we don’t get out here and enjoy where we live, we may as well live anywhere. Amen. Skiing with DIVAS forces you to focus, to quiet the never-ending mental “to do” list, to be present.

Nicky Elsbree works on a DIVAS' balance

Nicky Elsbree demonstrates balance

For those interested in adult specialty ski programs, Sun Valley has something for everyone. DIVAS also offers a beginner clinic called DIVAS 101 and the Snowsports School runs popular programs including Mountain Masters, Masters Race, Ski Club and the new men-only program, ARCS.

If you’re here for the winter, or most of it, these clinics are probably the best way to get excellent instruction at a great value, while meeting new friends and enjoying the mountain lifestyle.

Please call the Sun Valley Snowsports School at (888) 490-5950 or email snowsports@sunvalley.com and find your inner diva.

–RES