Coalition Snow Ambassador Penney Stahl has been able to mix her passions for snowboarding, the outdoors and empowering other women into a meaningful career path - all while raising her own family.
Name: Penney Stahl
Home Mountain: Purgatory, CO
Gear: Queen Bee Snowboard
“I’m 52 years old and every single job I’ve done has been outside,” Penney Stahl stated. Since starting out as a snowboard instructor in Maryland, Penney has been able to mix her passion for snow sliding, the outdoors and empowering other women to create a meaningful career path. She has been a key player for a women’s snowboard camp called SheRide as well as a youth-at-risk nonprofit called Snowboard Outreach Society. Currently she’s a physiotherapist for family therapy for wilderness program in Durango and works as a ground crew member for the airport. Not to mention, doing it all while raising her own family.
How did you become a snowboard instructor?
In the 90s I switched over from skiing to snowboarding. As I was learning to snowboard, these young guys at my home mountain at Wisp in Maryland actually recruited me to teach. My first job was being an instructor. They came up to me and said, ‘Wow this sport is growing and we really want a woman instructor so women will come and take lessons.’
When did you start competing in snowboard events?
In college I started snowboarding - this was in ‘89 so when all the resorts opened up to snowboarding. I got picked up by a local ski shop and competed in halfpipe and racing. I decided to move out west and see what I could do. I went to Breckenridge and Mammoth but I realized that the women were going huge, way bigger than on the east coast! So I became an instructor instead.
I had three kids and raised them and we all snowboarded together. One was a skier, and she competed in freestyle. Once they started coming up in age we all started competing together.
My daughter would be in the 7-year-old age category and I was in 40-year-age category, it was fun.
How did you get involved with Coalition Snow?
We have a women’s snowboard camp called SheRide that I’ve been teaching at it for about ten years. I was able to be part of the first one. Jen (not to be confused with THE Jen) came out to one and got me connected with Coalition. It’s one of those camps where women come to learn snowboarding, but they often make lifelong friends. There are all kinds of stories, like how one woman wasn’t going to come but her husband asked her for a divorce on the eve of the trip and then she knew this trip was absolutely necessary. Just to get support from other women at the camp helped. Most of these women come up for snowboarding, but they work through so many issues with self-esteem and trying new things and getting out of their comfort zone.
I’ve also done Snowboard Outreach Society (SOS) work. It’s for youth at risk, we bring them up to the mountains to go snowboard. I stated it in Vail and snow we have a chapter down here in Purgatory now. We have school buses that pull the kids out of school and for six weeks they come up, snowboard, have a mentor and sharing the group experience and have support. For awhile SheRide was funding SOS through the raffle tickets. Their families generally don’t have the money to get them in the mountains and it’s amazing to get them out there.