SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Great Bear Ski Valley in Sioux Falls is a popular winter sports destination, with hundreds of people making their way up and down the hill on a daily basis.
It’s also home to the Womxn of Winter.
Tens of thousands of visitors will strap on their ski boots this winter and hit the slopes at Great Bear Ski Valley.
Great Bear encourages people to embrace winter, and every Thursday night is helping women carve out their spot on the hill.
“Traditionally, skiing is a very male-dominated sport so we wanted to create the space for women to feel comfortable, come out and try something new,” Great Bear Ski Valley Director of Communications Alexa Jerstad said.
Alexa Jerstad has been skiing and snowboarding since she was a kid, and helped create Womxn of Winter.
“Whether it’s new moms or women that have skied in the past and are getting back into it or moms that want to keep up with their kids, it’s a space for them to ski with other women,” Jerstad said.
The Womxn of Winter started last year as a casual get-together with six people. This winter, that number has already tripled.
“We’re going to do snowshoeing demos, we’re going to go cross-country skiing, we’re going to learn how to take care of our gear, so it’s really kind of a full experience that we’re trying to offer,” Jerstad said.
“You feel OK to not know how to do something and get out of your comfort zone. That’s what we’re here for, we want people to try something different, to get out there and experience it,” Spoke-N-Sport ambassador Melissa McCauley said.
Womxn of Winter is a partnership with Spoke-N-Sport, which started selling winter sports gear in 2021 at its Minnesota Avenue location in Sioux Falls. Melissa McCauley is a Spoke-N-Sport ambassador and has been snowboarding since she was a teenager.
“Womxn of Winter is a group that we started so we could have the inclusivity of having women outside all year round,” McCauley said.
An activity with an emphasis on inclusion.
“Womxn of Winter, we spell it with an X to be more inclusive for people that are on different places on the spectrum,” Jerstad said.
“I think this group really signifies community, people who want to find common ground and get outside and help each other try new things and encourage each other,” Sioux Falls resident Zoe Rothberg said.
Zoe Rothberg moved to Sioux Falls about a year ago, and quickly found a home at Great Bear.
“Outdoors, in general, there’s a big under-representation of women and minorities and queer folk and trans folk, and so with this group, we’re trying to make that more accessible and bring that representation to people and say hey, if you don’t fit into this white, male category then you’re still welcome out here, there’s a space for you, we want you here and we’re going to help make it accessible to you,” Rothberg said.
However you identify, Rothberg says Womxn of Winter will be a new adventure every week.
“We’re going to learn about snowmaking, we’re going to go cross-country skiing, it’s just something to do in the winter to get outside and use all Sioux Falls has to offer,” Rothberg said.
“When you leave here on Thursdays, I want you to be like yes, I can’t wait to go back next Thursday,” McCauley said.
“Get outside, be on the snow, make some new friends, and make some new memories,” Jerstad said.