From an Idea to Reality: The Snowpack Scholarship Program

For the past four years, the SheJumps Snowpack Scholarship Program has stormed into the ski industry and undisputedly changed the game for snow scholarships specifically for women. Learn how it all happened with co-founders Krystin Norman, Yulia Dubinina, and Charlotte Guard.

SheJumps Snowpack Scholarship Founders

From left to right: Yulia Dubinina, Krystin Norman and Charlotte Guard

What happens when you combine backcountry skiing, craft beer, and the legendary Girafficorn? The winter annual SheJumps Snowpack Scholarship. In its 4th year of programming, the Snowpack Scholarship has become one of the most impactful opportunities for women of all ability levels to safely access the backcountry as well as inbound skiing at Ikon Resorts. As part of SheJumps' commitment to build a better place to belong for all women, more than 50% of all Snowpack Scholarships are provided to Black, Indigenous, Women of Color.

How did this all begin?

Back in the fall of 2017, Krystin Norman noticed that while backcountry skiing was becoming increasingly popular, it was staying relatively homogenous with far and few women in between. Inspired to make a difference, she brewed up the idea of creating a scholarship-based AIARE course to build the community of women skiers in Washington. Familiar with the steep prices of getting into backcountry skiing, Krystin was inspired to create access points for others to safely recreate with proper equipment and knowledge.

“When I moved to Washington, I had no money of my own and also had a very low paying salary in the biotech industry fresh out of college. But I knew that I wanted to prioritize the outdoors and balance my work time with outdoor time,” Krystin explained. She was already delicately balancing student loans and day-to-day expenses with ski costs. “I knew that I needed the education to access the backcountry, and first signed up for my AIARE course and gave myself nine months to collect all of the ski gear.“

Krystin Norman, Snowpack Scholarship Program Manager & Founder

Recognizing that saving up for gear, courses, and having mentors to learn from isn’t a privilege many folks have, she decided to pitch the idea of the Snowpack Scholarship Program to Yulia Dubinina, SheJumps Washington Regional Coordinator at the time and Charlotte Guard, Program Director at Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC).

“Yulia is the reason why I know SheJumps exists, she is my main ski partner, and she is also one of the first women I started backcountry skiing with after I took my Level 1,” said Krystin. She also knew Charlotte through the snow industry as well. “I've looked up to Charlotte a lot since I first met her, and we ski and climb together at times.”

Yulia was no stranger to the importance of a community of women in the ski industry. Back in the winter of 2013, she stumbled upon a Get the Girls Out Event at Crystal Mountain and has been a part of the SheJumps community since. Even with an ACL injury at the time, she noted how, “I instantly felt like I belonged, quickly getting involved after further chatting with a few SheJumps volunteers at the time.”

Yulia immediately loved the idea of the Snowpack Program, in part because of the dedication and passion Krystin showed for the program. “I don't think I even let her finish before I said that I was all in,” Yulia said. “We had talked about how there really weren't a whole lot of opportunities out there for people who couldn't afford to just pay for a class.”