Dear ski son, things I’d teach my snow child

A few months back I wrote an open letter to my imaginary ski daughter, the one I never had. The letter revealed 30 things I believe all snow girls need to know and understand. You can read them here.

Since then I’ve been thinking, in a sport dominated by males (58% of skiers and boarders are men) both on the slopes and in the governing bodies and company boards, what I’d teach my imaginary son about living his best diverse life through skiing. 

What I’d say if, my choices had been different and I’d had a child, a boy, taught him to ski, brought him up with a mountain lifestyle, introduced him to the wonder of travel and the inspiration that comes when connecting with others.

How would I shape my male offspring in a world automatically balanced in his favour for his gender not his mothers? That same child who was also born more susceptible to death by suicide because of his Y chromosome that I do not share. What, in my snow experience, would in turn heed him well to live a full life that would keep him engaged to stay in this world?

Many of what I’d told my imaginary snow daughter, I’d tell him too, but some, would surely be different.

So, here goes, dear imaginary snow son, this is your thirty.

  1. Take time, occasionally, to ski away from the pack. Ski alone on wide groomers, ski with one other in the powder, ski for fun not for glory, take the time in your turns, you can’t always straight line through life even when you want to. 
  2. Share the terrain park with the girls. If you see them loitering, invite them in. It is not a mass domain for testes and swagger. High five the girl when she lands a trick you have yet to master. 
  3. Naked women do not belong on your skis or boards, the same way your penis doesn’t belong on snapchat or texts. 
  4. Drink water, whenever you can. 
  5. Know your limits, physical, emotional and mental, by all means push them but please listen to fatigue. 
  6. Don’t ski with music in your ears, you won’t hear the skier or boarder behind you or the avalanche above you. 
  7. Step out of your comfort zone but listen to your gut, not peer pressure, as it will save you when needed. You are a braver man if you say ‘no’ when everyone else is saying yes, not just because of your courage but because of your difference in that courage.
  8. The width of your skis, speed of your turn, color of your run, brands on your helmet, do not define you. Skiing enhances who you are, it doesn’t make who you are.
  9. Send thank you emails to the ski patrol and medical team that help you when you injure yourself. You may meet them again. 
  10. Keep your music low in your ear buds when riding a gondola, unless it’s filled with just your friends then play that music on loud speaker for all to enjoy.
  11. Goonbags are not an appropriate replacement for the bladder in your camel pack. See number 4.
  12. Ski race or free ski because you want to, not because your parents want to have an Olympian in the family.
  13. Wear a helmet. it’s cool to have a brain.
  14. Six packs come and go but kindness lives forever.
  15. Mansplaining skiing to girls who ski with you is not a good idea, especially before you’ve made your first turn or you may not keep up.
  16. Volunteer some of your ski time to help others. Spend time with the adaptive program, campaign for Protect Our Winters, run a ski race for charity. You are privileged to ski, so give back where and when you can. 
  17. Don’t try to keep up with the boys, but do let them keep up with you because kindness is key to all relationships in life. Unless it’s a race, then ski that run like a bad ass.
  18. Take snacks. Good snacks. Nuts, home made protein balls, coconut butter sachets. Share them. 
  19. Don’t dress in drag for a laugh, being female isn’t a joke. Unless you’re a drag queen, then dress like the ski diva you are, loud and proud.
  20. Talk to people on the chairlift. Ask questions, don’t just over share. Life is about others, not just you. 
  21. No one died saying gee I wish I had a bigger television or a larger ski lodge.
  22. Stop if you hit someone on the slopes. Make sure they are ok.
  23. Put ski patrol’s phone number in your phone at every resort you visit.
  24. Gangstas don’t belong on ski slopes, they belong in jail. 
  25. Do an avalanche course. Then do another.
  26. There’s nothing cool about skiing stoned, trust me, I know. If you can’t get high from the mountains around you, you’re not skiing hard enough. Besides there’s no ski in ski out Maccas. 
  27. Look after your body, stretch, move, stay strong so you can ski late into your life with your grandchildren.
  28. Be open to learning from those more experienced than you, at all stages of your life. A life not learning is an insular one driven by ego.
  29. Crying is for all humans, boys, girls, men, women, old, young. 
  30. Make mistakes. It’s ok. You’re ok. But own your mistakes and choices on the mountain. Don’t blame others if it’s your error at play.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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