Photo: Courtesy of SheJumps.org
“We strive to motivate and inspire women to form a healthy relationship with the sports.” Claire Smallwood, SheJumps’ Executive Director, says about the company’s activities. “We don’t want to take 100 women and throw skis on them just to make them ski. We would rather take 30 and help them build a long term relationship with what they are trying.” SheJumps.org is a nonprofit organization, funded by grants and donations, which started out as a blog in 2005 written by Lynsey Dyer and Vanessa Pierce. The idea behind the blog was to create a forum for women to celebrate and bond over their relationships with the sports and wilderness they loved. At the time, there wasn’t really anything like it for women who were interested in winter sports. Over time the blog evolved into the organization it is today. As stated on their website, “SheJumps creates a supportive community of females of all backgrounds and ages, inspiring them to reach their highest potential through increasing participation in outdoor activities.” SheJumps runs activities such as ski groups, hikes and other activities geared towards helping women of all ages and abilities become comfortable with healthy physical fitness. The community includes women like Junior Olympic Downhill Champion Lynsey Dyer, Freeride World Tour Overall Winner, Crystal Wright, and Women’s Ski Jumping World Champion, Lindsey Van. Despite their impressive résumés, these ladies present nothing intimidating. They know what it takes to set and achieve spectacular goals, and they just want to help everyday women do the same thing, even if you aren’t striving to win medals.
Women who participate in SheJumps are referred to as “Jumpers,” because in SheJumps, you Jump In, Jump Up, or Jump Out. This refers to what Smallwood described as more of a life philosophy. “You can jump in and try something new, jump up and share it with somebody, or jump out by taking it to the next level and being the best you can be at what ever it is you are doing.” This is how SheJumps approaches everything, on and off of the mountain. Smallwood’s best example of jumping in is SheJumps’ youth ski program, (S)heJumps into the Canyon. Shortly after joining the SheJumps crew, Smallwood had heard about a group of kids who had been taken telemark skiing with an after school program. “I felt like we could give back and I knew that we could do it.” She convinced Dyer and Pierce that they could create their own program geared towards getting youth on the mountain to learn to ski with top athletes, free of charge. Tweaking the mission slightly, they allowed teen boys to participate alongside the girls because they felt that they were still exposing kids to skiing who would not have had the opportunity to do it at all (this accounts for the (S)heJumps). After partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs in Salt Lake and Murray, they found a number of kids who, due to cultural differences or financial woes, would never see a mountain from the top of a lift. The program, now in its third year, has grown a great deal and will be serving more youth than ever this season with the help of the Billy Poole Memorial Fund and sponsors like North Face.
Despite being an organization that primarily serves women, they still get a great deal of support from the men in the outdoor sports community. According to Smallwood, “We had one guy who was so thankful because his girlfriend enjoyed skiing so much more now because she found out that there are other women out there doing it.” SheJumps is about finding your happy place in what you are trying to do, not outdoing everyone else. Smallwood says, “It’s not about women competing with men, it’s about showing women that this is their only life, so they’ve got to live it up!” When attending a SheJumps event, you can expect what Smallwood describes as “a comfortable environment where women can push themselves as much as they want. Where they can do anything they’ve ever seen a guy do. It’s not about breaking a sweat, but more about having fun.” For one event, the SheJumps crew hiked the Grand Teton where they hula hooped when they reached the top. SheJumps is there, Smallwood says, to ask, “What else do you want to do besides hit that mountain? What is it that you want to do to change the world?”
If you want to join the fun, SheJumps.org will be hosting events such as premiering women’s ski videos, hosting avalanche clinics, and other outdoor adventuring. For all updates of these events check out the website SheJumps.org. They encourage any women who have even the slightest of interests in seeing what they can achieve outdoors to join in. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them at SheJumps.org to see events such as meet and ride days, check out photo galleries of past events, or to contribute to and read stories of other jumpers and their exploits. As a non-profit, SheJumps can also use your donations, which can be made online. SheJumps hosts an online networking site at SheJumps.ning.com where you will be able to share your stories and talk with likeminded people. Gentlemen: don’t feel left out, SheJumps welcomes your feedback, donations, and girlfriends.