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Becoming a Ski Guide

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Becoming a Ski Guide

Written by Emma Renly

 

Coalition Snow Athlete Sofia Forsman chats about what is takes to become a certified ski guide and how her passion for the mountains makes it all worth it. 


Name: Sofia Forsman

Home Mountain: Revelstoke, BC

Gear: La Nieve 173cm / Abyss 173cm 

Instagram: @sofiaforsman


At 5’3 Sofia Forsman still towers against the mountains. Originally from a small town in Sweden, she moved to interior British Columbia a few years ago and came down with a condition commonly referred to as Revelstuck. Her absolute love of skiing has lead her down the career path to becoming a certified ski guide and with her current qualifications, she’s able to tail-guide for cat and ski touring operations. Through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) Sofia is making turns to reaching the next stage of her profession: becoming an apprentice ski guide.

 

First off, why did you decide to become a ski guide?

Through my late teens I was searching for an alternative career to law school, which I was studying at the time. I had done a few ski seasons in Canada and just got stuck. I started taking courses, ski patrolling and working my way towards gaining all the experience needed. It was a good way for me to deal with my impatience with slow-paced life while utilizing my OCD-ness.

 

Can you explain more about the course for ACMG? What do you learn from those?

Of course, the program is three weeks long and spread throughout the season.

  • 1-week alpine skills (rope and crevasse rescue skills)
  • 1-week mechanized skiing (downhill ski test, downhill guiding skills, avalanche rescue skills test),
  • 1-week ski touring and a nine-day long exam

The courses are supposed to fine tune and check that you have the required skills. You apply with an extensive skills resume and need to get accepted before you start. There are 20 spots each year for around 100 applicants.

 

Are there many other women going through the program?

A fair few, between 5-7 each year so between 25 and 35% for the apprentice ski program. Less for the full ski and even lesser for the alpine guide and mountain guide

 

Do you have any ideas about why there are significantly fewer women?

Yes, it gets physically harder. I find it more challenging because I need to carry the same items for guiding (ropes, safety equipment, etc) that largely weigh the same as a man's. But let's say we each carry a 40 lbs backpack, that's generally a bigger percentage of my body mass compared to a man's.

I think women lack the support from each other and don't have any role models to look up to - it is easier when it's been done before, because your goals seem more realistic - though that’s purely perception. I've chosen to work for and with females as much as they have chosen to mentor me because they've believed in me.

Which Coalition Skis do you use?

The La Nieve has everything I need - they're light, have a good width and spoon for flotation, camber so you can get an edge in and ski crud. The flat tapered tail makes it easy to kick turns and easy for taking it off and while touring. They're also poppy enough and stiff enough - great balance of aggressive and manageable.

The Abyss is great for those really deep days or for sending it. They're like floating on clouds and will keep you upright for hitting those bigger cliffs...when you finally have the snow to dare to.