The internet is an amazing place.
Nearly five years ago, I started TheSkiDiva.com as a place for women to talk about skiing. And so far it’s been a tremendous success. Today, the forum has nearly 3,000 registered members from all over the world: the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe. There are amazing conversations about gear, technique, resorts — anything and everything that has to do with skiing.
But the most remarkable thing about it is how it’s become a genuine community — a place ?in which friendships are formed. where we share one another’s joys and sorrows, where we help each other out, even if it’s not related to skiing.
Take forum member BraveSkiMom (yes, everyone has a user name to protect anonymity. The world can be a scary place.) BraveSkiMom was looking for some travel tips for a family trip to Ireland. So she posted about it on the forum — with incredible results.
Here’s what she said about it on her blog, BraveSkiMom.com (which, by the way, you really must visit):
Perusing various topics on TheSkiDiva.com forum in November, I ran across this query:
What are your skiing goals this season??
I have the same goal each and every season, so I quickly responded, facing the cold, hard truth, that yes, I am old.
My goal every year since I turned 40 (sigh) is to ski at least as many days as I am old. So far, so good. Can?t wait til I?m 80!?
With that I went on my way, posting a few other items, responding here, responding there, recognizing women with whom I?ve communicated before and enjoying a good 1/2 hour of skiing-related chat.
A couple of hours later, however, I got a reply in my email from 3VSki (Most women choose a forum name, rather than use their own name. Mine is braveskimom ? surprise!).? She responded,
Oh I love the idea of skiing the same number of days as I am in years but that just might mean bankruptcy cause I live in Ireland!! I managed 24 days last season so to match that would be good.?
I thought to myself, How cool is that? A skier from Ireland responding to me, a skier in Colorado. Not only that, she?s got a great sense of humor! And I thought that was the end of it.
She explains, I didn?t really know many other women who skied, and I wanted to find people I could talk to about skiing in a way that I could relate to. That wasn?t the case with other ski forums on the web; they?re dominated by men, so the atmosphere is, shall we say, pretty testosterone-charged. It?s pretty hard to get any input on women?s equipment or the things I wanted to talk about.
Wendy was clearly not the only female skier feeling isolated, because within 4-1/2 years,TheSkiDiva.com has grown to nearly 3,000 members and is the leading site for women who ski. I found TheSkiDiva.com when I was researching the online ?competition? for family skiing information. Once I joined the forums I quickly realized that unlike the majority of chat room/forum sites, TheSkiDiva.com really is a community. Within hours I felt like I had friends and you know what, I did.
One Ski Diva from Massachusetts volunteered to be interviewed for a Brave Ski Mom review of Smugglers? Notch. A couple of other Ski Divas from Colorado and I tried to set up a few ski dates (which fell through because I caught a cold). But we were all game and we?ll ski together some day. And then there is 3VSki.
Skiing Advice, Travel Advice
In June, 3VSki and I actually met and got our families together at her home in Northern Ireland. As my family was planning our summer vacation, we were looking for an off-the-beaten track, best-possible-place in Ireland to rent a cottage for a week. The guidebooks weren?t helping much. Nor was talking to friends and relatives here in the U.S. For one thing, I was being picky. I?d already visited Dublin and traveled in that area, so I knew I wanted to visit the West Coast. Yet everything we read repeated the same beauty spots and made them all sound crazy-busy with tour buses. Just not our style.
On a whim, I contacted 3VSki through TheSkiDiva.com. Immediately she responded enthusiastically, ?Look no further than County Donegal on the North West coast for beautiful scenery (though the weather is never guaranteed).
And you know what, we didn’t look any further. I knew that she was a skier, I knew that we are almost the same age and I knew that she knew what she was talking about (she?s the native after all). What more did I need to know? Our holiday in County Donegal was perfect! The scenery was drop-dead gorgeous, the beaches were pristine and golden, the village of Dunfanaghy had everything we needed and no crowds, and the company was outstanding.
For that was the real highlight of our visit to Ireland. We had dinner two consecutive nights with 3VSki and her family and spent an afternoon hiking (women) and golfing (men). We connected, our husbands connected and our children, well, they just need a ski holiday together to get over a bit of shyness.
And speaking of ski holidays, we compared notes. While I may not yet have convinced them to visit us and ski at Aspen, they have convinced us to visit them and ski at Les Trois Vallees in France. Hundreds of kilometers of trail, endless piste and chalets with chefs. Yes, you read that right. French Chefs. I?m sold.
Thank you 3VSki for all of your assistance, hospitality and generosity. You have a sincere, open invitation to visit us at any time. Until then, I?ll meet you at TheSkiDiva.com.