Powder & Power: Celebrating trailblazing patrollers.
January 18, 2024 | icebreaker
icebreaker is saluting the powerhouse women of the National Ski Patrol. To fuel their unstoppable spirit, we're donating $10,000 this January for the growth and education of our female patrollers—the heroes who keep us safe in the mountain playground. We interviewed two trailblazing ski patrollers to highlight their achievements in the industry.
Patroller Spotlight: Tessa Dawson - Pioneering the Ski Patrol Landscape
Tessa Dawson stands out as a true trailblazer in the ski patrol industry, charting her course from her early days in the ski school at Mammoth Mountain back in 2006. Tessa found her calling in patrolling, seamlessly blending her love for skiing with a passion for helping others. From Park City to Crested Butte, Tessa has left her mark on some of the most iconic mountains in the United States, currently holding the esteemed position of Ski Patrol Director for Aspen Skiing Company.
In the warmer months, Tessa continues to embrace the outdoors, contributing to community safety as a rafting guide in Aspen.
Beyond ensuring skier safety, Tessa finds joy in the simple moments, such as riding the lift with the sunrise each morning. While the physical demands of the job are considerable, Tessa thrives in a team environment, fostering a strong sense of community among her colleagues.
Tessa notes a significant rise in the presence of women in the ski patrol realm. More women are not only applying but also persevering in these programs. The industry is evolving to make patrolling a more achievable goal for women with families, offering increased flexibility. Tessa, as a woman in a leadership role, serves as an inspiration for young women aspiring to thrive in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Encouraging aspiring female patrollers, Tessa advises them to take the leap without waiting for absolute readiness. "Many women wait until they are 100% prepared before they jump into a new adventure. My advice would be to take a chance and go or it." says Tessa. Patrolling is an inclusive endeavor, and women can excel by taking the plunge and improving as they go.
Reflecting on her favorite moments on the slopes, Tessa highlights the exhilaration of doing a rope drop and opening new terrain, with the crowd cheering on fresh powder days.
For this season's skiers, Tessa emphasizes the importance of being prepared. From layered ski clothes suitable for various weather conditions to staying hydrated, she encourages newcomers to take it slow and relish the experience on the mountain.
In the world of ski patrolling, performance ski apparel is paramount. Tessa stresses the significance of gear that is not only effective but also enduring, given her rigorous schedule of skiing over 130 days a year. Base layers and ski clothing that keep her warm and dry throughout the day are indispensable.
Tessa's go-to icebreaker item? Ski+ Light Socks. These merino ski socks provide warmth and dryness, making them ideal for patrolling all day, even during snow-filled hikes.
A big thank you goes out to Tessa for her commitment to ski safety and for blazing a trail for women in the industry.
Patroller Spotlight: Kathleen Smith - A Versatile Force in Ski Patrol
Meet Kathleen Smith, an individual who effortlessly balances family, career, and a passion for volunteer ski patrolling, making her a true trailblazer in the ski patrol industry. Kathleen's journey began in the Winter Park Eskimo Ski Club, and as her love for skiing grew, she joined the Junior Ski Patrol at Winter Park alongside her older brothers. Nearly two decades later, Kathleen remains a dedicated volunteer patroller at Winter Park, contributing to the safety and well-being of the community during the ski season.
For Kathleen, patrolling is a perfect blend of her two loves – skiing and helping others. It has not only provided her with a platform to give back to her community but has also fostered a strong and supportive community, where connections have opened doors for her career advancements. Currently, Kathleen holds the esteemed position of Rocky Mountain Women’s Supervisor for the National Ski Patrol, showcasing her leadership in the field.
In recent years, Kathleen has observed a positive shift in the ski patrolling industry, with more women entering the profession. The industry itself is actively focusing on attracting and supporting women, as evident in the rise of women both on the patrol and in supervisor positions at Winter Park Resort. This trend sets an example for aspiring skiers, especially young women, who may be considering a career in ski patrolling.
Kathleen's advice for women aspiring to start patrolling is simple yet powerful: bring the GRIT. Recognizing the physical demands of patrolling, she encourages women to push themselves, emphasizing the rewarding nature of the experience and the supportive community that surrounds it.
One of Kathleen's cherished patrolling memories involves being out on the slopes with her brother and best friends, turning the experience into a true family affair. The camaraderie among patrollers has transformed them into an extended family for Kathleen.
For new skiers this winter, Kathleen advocates taking a lesson to establish a solid foundation before hitting the mountain. Stressing the importance of safety, Kathleen underlines, "Helmets save lives," emphasizing the need for proper gear preparation.
As a seasoned patroller, Kathleen understands the unpredictable conditions a patroller may face, highlighting the importance of versatile layers and clothing. Breathability and flexibility are key attributes for ski clothes, enabling patrollers to perform at their best, especially when sweating and working hard. Kathleen's go-to icebreaker item is The Quantum, providing the perfect blend of breathability, comfort, and versatility for her on and off the mountain needs.
A huge thank you goes out to Kathleen for her dedication to keeping us safe on the mountain and for exemplifying that women can indeed do it all. Her story serves as an inspiration to others in the ski patrolling community.