Resorts target women with 'Take Your Daughter' program

McLEAN, Va. -- Ski resorts across the country are focusing on women with a weeklong Take Your Daughter to the Snow program, sponsored by the Snow Sports Association for Women, a nonprofit association based here. The program is scheduled to run from Jan. 31 through Feb. 6.

A mother and daughter participate in Take Your Daughter to the Snow day at Waterville Valley, N.H.. Calling women-specific winter sports travel a "soft market," Jan Berg, co-director of the program and spokeswoman for the SSAW, said the plan is a way to draw that elusive group into an area that has long been focused on men.

"SSAW is dedicated to getting everyone who alpine or cross-country skis, snowboards or snowshoes to bring a daughter, sister, mother or female friend to the snow that week," Berg said.

"We want to reach out to young girls as well as to women who either are new to the sport or who have had take time off, maybe because of family obligations," she said.

Berg cited research showing that women are receptive to snow sports once they are introduced to the concept -- especially alpine, cross country and snowboarding -- because they are potentially family activities. "Even if the kids snowboard and the parents ski, they can do it together," Berg said.

The program, which is in its third year, has been expanded this year from one day to a week, Berg said, in order to give participants an opportunity to try some of the less-practiced snow sports.

Cross-country skiing, in particular, is getting an increasingly strong response each year from this program, Berg said.

Regarding costs, promotions like two-for-one lift tickets, half-price equipment rentals and lessons are designed to draw participants who may have shied away because of sticker shock.

Adapted from the Take Your Daughter to Work concept, the program will be available at "most ski resorts" this season, Berg said. Some 300 resorts and cross-country and snowshoe centers participated in the event last year, with 115 already signed up for the 1999-2000 season, she said.

Each resort is tailoring the program to match its needs, she said, with some offering midweek, weekend or evening versions while others are offering the full weeklong program.

SSAW tapped Olympic gold medal skier Picabo Street to be the spokeswoman for the event, and brochures featuring Street are in the works, to be distributed later in the season. Sponsors this year include Southwest Airlines Vacations, Kodak and Sports Illustrated for Women.

Ninety retail outlets also are on board this season, Berg said, and will offer participants activities such as fashion shows, in-store equipment clinics and point-of-sale programs with display boxes at which people can register for prizes.

"This will help us build a strong database of participants and find out who they are and what sports they were drawn to," she said.

Addressing the issue of women-specific equipment, Berg said: "It's taken so long just to get boots and skis adapted to our builds.

"These programs can let participants try different boots and skis with someone there to offer a critique without making them feel intimidated."

Berg also pointed out that the new equipment, such as shaped skis and revamped snowshoes, have created sports that are easier to learn "in a more friendly environment" than in previous years.

Snowshoeing, especially, has become dramatically more popular in recent years and can even by done by women who want to hike with a baby in a backpack.

Berg stressed, however, that Take Your Daughter to the Snow week is not for women only. "Last year we had a large number of men bringing their daughters, and it was an opportunity for them to spend quality time together."

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