Building Bonds and Bridging Gaps: 2023 SheJumps Snowpack Scholarships Fosters Snowsports Community
We're excited to share how year five of the SheJumps Snowpack Scholarship built community and empowered women in winter sports through 97 individual scholarships.
Photo by Angela Crampton
Over the past five years Snowpack Scholarship’s mission has remained the same: increase women's participation in winter sports, build stronger communities where all women can belong, and generate equitable opportunities to learn in women-led courses. This past winter, 84 avalanche safety scholarships were awarded to individuals across North America, with 51% of those scholarships awarded to Women of Color. Additionally, a total of 13 Ikon Passes were awarded, of which 100% of recipients were Women of Color.
Colorado AIARE 1 Course. Photo contributed by Sarah Janin.
American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE) 1 serves as an introduction to making informed decisions in backcountry terrain. SheJumps collaborated with Colorado Mountain School in Colorado, Mountain Savvy in Oregon, Mountain Guides in Utah, and Alpine Ascents International in Washington to offer sixty AIARE 1 scholarship spots.
For individuals interested in furthering their avalanche education, SheJumps offered twenty-four AIARE 2 scholarship spots. SheJumps partnered with Inspired Summits in Utah and Alpine Ascents International in Washington to offer the level 2 courses.
A unique aspect of the SheJumps Snowpack Scholarship avalanche courses is that the courses are exclusively for scholarship recipients and not open to the public. “This allows for recipients to connect with their community and each other in an environment that enriches and encourages curiosity and learning,” said Francine Mullen, Snowpack Scholarship Coordinator, noting that some individuals were so impacted by the program that they are interested in giving back to future participants.
“Additionally, I’ve received incredibly positive feedback from multiple instructors who have taught these courses. The snowpack courses are the most fulfilling and fun for folks to teach during the season,” added Mullen.
Lead Guide Lyra Pierotti teaching a course through Alpine Ascents International in Washington. Photo by Angela Crampton.
This year, avalanche programming was made possible through partnerships with YETI, Dynafit, Fremont Brewing, K2 Skis, Montucky Cold Snacks, and NWAC.
“Helping more women find community in the mountain sports world works towards a better world,” said Matt Lincecum of Fremont Brewing, one of the original partners of the program. Each year the company creates a one-of-a-kind craft beer specifically for the Snowpack Scholarship. A portion of the proceeds goes directly back to the program.
“Fremont brewed an 8% Hazelnut & Smoked Black Pepper Oatmeal Stout with the apres’ ski fireplace and cold beer scene in mind. It’s the perfect beer to kick start the evening after a long day of mountain activities,” added Linceum.
Photo by Angela Crampton.
Since the 19/20 season, SheJumps has awarded Ikon passes to individuals interested in learning or increasing their ski and snowboarding skills inbounds. The goal is to offer affordable opportunities to get to the mountains and create an education bridge for individuals to then look into backcountry avalanche education. This year, the partnership with Nordia and Ikon Pass played a huge role in making this initiative a reality, and SheJumps was thrilled to be able to offer a total of 13 Ikon Passes.
One of the recipients, Yakira Mirabito, noted that the Snowpack Scholarship significantly reduced the financial barriers of purchasing an Ikon Pass after an unexpected medical bill.
“So far, I have spent about 45 days at the resort, with more days planned for this season,” said Mirabito, who also attended two SheJumps events this winter. “I’ve wanted to get into backcountry touring and was a bit lost about what gear to get and the next steps, and the folks I met there have helped me find an affordable setup. I plan to attend more SheJumps events and perhaps apply for one of the AIARE courses next year!”
Photos provided by Yakira Mirabito (@sendit_yak).
Looking ahead to next winter, the focus will shift from expansion in numbers to fostering a deeper sense of community and belonging among those who receive the scholarships.
“We have a unique program, in which we are able to shape the program based on the feedback of past recipients,” stated Mullen. “We are looking to explore scholarship opportunities for continuing education such as snow and avalanche workshops, ski instructor certifications, ski patrol certifications, mentorship, and more. The world is our oyster, and we can only get better.”
To become involved with the Snowpack Scholarship program for the 2023-2024 winter season, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.