The Women’s Performance Camp is coming to Loon!
The Women’s Performance Camp is a weekend where women can take their skiing to the next level and have the opportunity to ski with Loon’s finest female coaches. The camp offers over twelve hours of women-to-women coaching and video analysis, targeted core conditioning for peak performance, and more. This camp is also a great way to build confidence and create friendships on and off the mountain.
We recently had the chance to interview one of the masterminds behind K2’s women’s product line, Alyssa Clark. Alyssa works in marketing for K2 Skis and Snowboarding, and is the K2 Women’s Ski Team Manager.
When Alyssa joined K2 three years ago, the K2 Ski Alliance, which was developed in 2000, was a women’s program that had seen brighter days. Alyssa was given the chance to redefine the Alliance – and that she did. Alyssa has transformed the K2 Ski Alliance into an internationally-known team of women who are local ambassadors, assisting in the development of women’s-specific products and professional athletes.
Alyssa has contributed greatly to not only the ski industry but the K2 brand and its focus on women’s skiing. Here’s what she had to say.
LM: What are your day-to-day duties at K2?
AC: I wear a lot of hats. I’m in marketing for ski and snowboard, I work with the rep force, I run the Alliance program for ski and snowboard and I am the women’s team manager for ski. It’s fun – I get to dip my hand in the pot of every part of our building, from product development to marketing to sales to graphics and design. I manage the women’s test group as well – working with the engineers in the early stages of development, testing the product on snow, and making sure the females are the ones making the decisions on our product line.
My job is super dynamic, it’s changing all the time and that’s what I really love about it. There are a ton of emails of course, and a lot of my time is making sure the ladies have all the gear they need, whether that’s an ambassador somewhere around the country or a professional athlete getting ready for a film trip or a contest. It can be crazy at times but I love what I do and we have such a great team behind the scenes at K2.
LM: Why is it important to have a women’s – specific manager or role?
AC: Simply so that the ladies have someone they feel comfortable talking to. The girls are always saying, “It’s so nice that we’re able to talk to you and tell you how we honestly feel about a certain product. It can be intimidating to get on the phone with a guy to try and explain what we’re feeling in a women’s product.” The girls value having a female in this position. It just makes sense to have a woman be the point of contact so nothing is lost in translation.
LM: How do women benefit from being taught by women?
AC: Being taught by anyone is beneficial; it’s learning. Female-to-female just banishes a certain type of potential disconnect.
A big goal of the K2 Alliance is to educate women. Whether it’s a snow safety session, a tuning tutorial, a free ski lesson, or an Alliance member at a shop clinic/demo tent, we’re always trying to have more females present at events to answer questions and share information. In doing this, guests, students, whomever they may be, are able to learn about our product and program from like-minded women. Once again, it just makes sense to ease up on any communication barriers.
LM: How has K2 contributed to the design and innovation of women’s skis?
AC: “Where do I start?! K2 has been at the forefront of producing women’s-specific product for fifteen years. There have been too many great models to name but besides coming out with the first high performance women’s ski, the Spire, we’ve developed a program that focuses on ski R+D that is unique to a woman’s body. Females have a lower center of gravity, we move differently than males. Sure, we know that women can rip on a men’s ski; it’s just that we want gear that’s specific to our genetic makeup. It makes the sport more fun and enjoyable.
We have such deep roots in supporting women and making products that have just as much credibility as our men’s line. It’s been almost two decades of research. There has been a lot of trial and error, naturally, but being a well-established company that has been around for so long has allowed us to perfect our women’s product and technology within.
I could go on and on but I can proudly say we do it all and look to further ski innovation for many years to come.”
LM: What makes K2’s women’s skis different from other companies?
AC: Have you heard the term ‘shrink it and pink it’? This pretty well describes most ‘women’s specific’ product on the market. Companies take a men’s ski, for example, make tools for smaller sizes and throw some girly graphics on it. Then boom: they label it as a women’s product. What’s different is that K2 understands that females have specific needs and we strive to cater to those and make product for any skier, of any ability level.
Our gear is developed by a team of women who work with engineers in the initial stages of development all the way through final production. Conception, testing, materials, technology, graphics and so on. It’s not just the product itself; it’s also the process that makes the product unique. It is made from the ground up for women, by women, and we pride ourselves on that.
We also have females in marketing and sales, which is so unique for a ski company. Having women in all aspects of the business here is amazing.
LM: What is it like to be working with a company that is so committed and focused on women’s skiing?
AC: It’s a dream come true, I love it. It’s such a great company and the women’s program is authentic, which is the biggest stamp of approval in my book.
When I came on board three years ago the Alliance program was a bit stagnant. It had gotten a little loose and we recognized that there was an opportunity to redefine it and start from the ground up. I was given the reins early on to do what I wanted with the Alliance and it’s been so fun to have control of such a unique thing – it’s crazy at times, but always fun. Day one I knew that I had support behind my ideas too, which is incredible. They could actually come to fruition.
Snow sports have seen a few tough years and most of the other players just don’t have the means to support women’s programs. The reality is that girls tend to come second in a male – dominated industry and it really is unique that K2 can support a full-fledged women’s program that is so huge; it’s massive. We’re flying products to women all over the world right now and I know most other ski and snowboard companies cannot do that. I am grateful to be a part of it and leading the charge is something I had never imagined. The progression is happening and I hope that K2 can be an example for other companies to grow their women’s sectors.
LM: Why do you believe Women’s Performance Camps or other similar experiences are important? How are they beneficial?
AC: It’s an excuse to get together with other ladies and be a part of the female ski community. It’s bonding, it’s education, and it’s creating a memory.
There is an ease of tension when it is solely women. Girls push each other to be better athletes. No one is there to judge and you’re all there for the same reason and you’re having fun. Of course, men are fully capable of teaching women, no doubt there. I just think that this ‘need to impress’ is put on hold when you’re with other girls. It’s a more relaxed environment and the pace is slower.
I was skiing with a crew of ladies in the backcountry the other day and we came upon some pretty technical terrain. I honestly don’t think I would’ve committed to skiing some of it had a bunch of guys been there. I don’t know how to explain it. I guess I would have felt that I was slowing the group down or that I could be risky another time so no one had to wait up. I don’t know…it’s funny and I’m sure if a guy reads this he’s going to think it’s ridiculous. There is just this special camaraderie factor between females and it makes sense. The competition goes away.
And at the Loon Women’s Performance Camps the guests have a female help them try out the proper demo gear, which is a big asset. Having women involved in every part of the process is how we do things and we try and bring that aspect to our consumer events.
And how are these camps beneficial? Education and experience. Any time those two elements are involved, you are bettering your abilities and boosting confidence.”
LM: Do you have any advice for fellow female skiers?
AC: Skip the latte, save your money and buy a ski pass!
Pretty cliché, but don’t take it too seriously unless you are trying to make a career out of it; just have fun! Skiing is a hobby.
And no excuses when questioning whether to get outside or not! Cold? Boot heaters, heated gloves, layers of down jackets, etc. Don’t have gear or cash to rent? Search online for an event with free demos or borrow. No one to go skiing with? Find friends online! There are so many resources for girls to find groups of other ladies in their area who are interested in the same thing. Whether you’re looking at Loon’s website and finding the Women’s Performance Camp or finding a Facebook group of local rippers, there are so many places to locate ski buddies. Plus you’re making new friends!
There are just so many outlets out there to find opportunities to go skiing. You can sit inside and make all these excuses for why you can’t go or why you can’t learn but there are so many deals on lessons and everyone has a friend that is willing to teach them. Better yet, you can document your day. With iPhones and GoPros, you can take pictures and videos and have a memory that will last a lifetime. I guarantee when you look back on it you’re going to want to do it over and over again. Take advantage of all of the resources out there. Connect with people and enjoy time outside.
We’re pretty lucky to have the opportunity to engage in such a fun activity.
Interview by Hillary Inglis