The Life of a Female Dirtbag Skier

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I recently read an article in Powder Magazine lamenting the disappearance of the dirtbag skier and of course it featured a picture of a dude and was written by another dude. The problem with this is that dirtbags are still here – including female dirtbags.  Are female dirtbag skiers invisible in the industry?  I’m here to let everyone know dirtbags are alive and kicking, and guess what?  Some of us are women.

So here’s my story.  I’m a female dirtbag.

Calling me a skier isn’t totally accurate.  I am mostly a snowboarder, but I also downhill ski, telemark ski, and cross-country ski (stride and sorta skate).  The whole skier vs. snowboarder battle was dead around two decades ago so anyone still hanging onto that salt is hella out of touch.  For the sake of brevity and convenience I will simply refer to myself as a “dirtbag”.  I wear that title with pride.

What is a dirtbag?  Simply put: someone who does whatever it takes to be on the hill as much as possible. We don’t usually have the latest gear. If we do, it will be paired with our old well-worn and duct-taped patched equipment.  We don’t care about looks or showing off but we can ride with the best.  We know the best lines and where to find the best snow and the best place to grab a beer at the end of the day. Don’t think we are just going to give out that information freely, though: our secret spots are great because they are secret and they are secret because they are great.  Dirtbags don’t like crowds, especially on the slopes.

I am writing this a week after July 4th. The weather has consistently been in the high 80s for several days and I still haven’t packed away my winter gear because I still see patches of snow out there that could be hiked and skied. A dirtbag doesn’t need a chairlift or perfect snow conditions to have a good time.

I work as little as I can at a resort in Tahoe these days so I can get a season pass.  I’ve skied my home mountain longer than any of the current upper management.  Off and on for most of my adult life I have worked at 4 different ski resorts in 3 different states.  I walk through any ski village like a ninja each winter, skillfully making my way in and out of crowds of humans walking like robots clumsily in their ski boots, spinning around their axis with their skis on their shoulders like a helicopter that’s about to take off.  I’m a ballerina on the snow, but I’ll still slip on an icy patch like anyone else.  Damn ice.

My favorite resorts are the ones with the fewest amount of amenities.  Fewer amenities means fewer gapers, and I don’t need a sazerac in the lodge at the top of the mountain.

(If you want to buy me a sazerac, I’ll gladly accept it after last run.  I’ll accept anything you want to give me for free.)

I am a ski resort’s worst financial nightmare because I don’t buy anything.  I am also a ski resort’s best customer because you’ll never even know I’m there. I ride midweek and never when it’s crowded. I usually spend more time hiking and riding off-pist so you won’t see me cycling the lift unless it’s dumping and even then you won’t see me in the blizzard.

I might smell a little if I haven’t done laundry in awhile and I’m forced to wear my ancient synthetic polyblend base layer.  I don’t wash my outer layers because because even with tech wash they could lose their waterproofness. I’m not about to buy a new jacket: it’s a fancy expensive one, built to last a lifetime, and I got a great deal on it. It’s wearing out a bit where the fabric rubs against my snowboard when I’m carrying it, but I’m prepared to hot-fix that hole with duct tape.

I already have duct tape on my pants.  I’m not sure where my pants came from. Probably someone who crashed at my house at one of the ski resorts I worked at in my 20s.  I feel like those pants are my family they have been with me so long.  There have been times I have gone on a diet simply to continue to fit into those pants.  I don’t want to get new pants.

I’m excited about summer until the beginning of August when I start thinking about my winter plans.  I go through the same thoughts every year.  I hope it’ll be a good season.  Maybe it’ll snow early this year. I hope it doesn’t rain.  I hate climate change.  Should I get new boots this year?  Should I just buy a pass this year instead of working at the resort?

Only fellow dirtbags get me.  Someone trying to move up the corporate ladder will never understand my dirtbag ways.  Like my old Smokin’ Snowboards sticker says, “Corprate Snowboarding Sucks!” (not a typo).

Do we female dirtbags wear makeup? We leave that up to the individual woman to decide. I decide what I want to do with my hair and makeup each day and I don’t let other people dictate what I look like. I’m not on the mountain to be seen so whether or not I wear makeup depends on how I’m personally feeling each day.

As a dirtbag, do I think I’m cooler than everyone else? No. Maybe. A little? As a dirtbag, I don’t have anything to prove, so I believe that makes me cooler than those who do. But I don’t believe everyone needs to be a dirtbag – do what you want.

As a dirtbag, I don’t care if I’m the best, fastest, prettiest lady on the mountain. In fact, I’d prefer it if you didn’t notice me at all so you won’t see where I’m riding. My dad was a dirtbag skier, an ex-patroller who used to ski in jeans. I’m pretty sure his jacket was from the 1960s.  I probably got my dirtbag ways from him.  No one can say for sure, though.

There are lots of us female dirtbag skiers out there. Maybe we aren’t on Powder Magazine’s radar because we don’t want to be. But then again, I wrote this post, which now conflicts with its own premise. Well.  Whatever! I’ll do what I want! It’s the dirtbag way.

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2 Comments

  1. I love it, female dirtbags represent!

  2. Whoever wrote this, you're awesome.

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