Jenn Sheridan is a punk rock skier who doesn’t like the word no. She grew up skiing with the junior race team at Mount Shasta Ski Park. After high school she bounced around a few stereotypical ski bum jobs including being the only woman tuning skis at the local shop and coaching the junior race team before moving to Tahoe to finish school between chasing pow days.
When she’s not out on the hill skiing with the #sisterhoodofshred, hosting demo events, writing blogs or working behind the scenes with Coalition Snow, Jenn is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared on Powder.com and in Teton Gravity Research. Check out Jenn’s writing at nosnownsnakes.com
What is your job at Coalition and how has it evolved?
So today I am the Marketing and Communications director. When I first graduated from college I was writing for a local magazine, the Tahoe Weekly. I heard about this woman who was starting a ski and snowboard company so I reached out to her for a story in the magazine. When I met Jen Gurecki for the interview my initial impression was that this women was not your typical ski bum. She smart, passionate and articulate. I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of what she was doing. After the story was published I followed up with Jen and eventually joined the first brand ambassador team.
As Coalition continues to grow and evolve, so does my role in the company. My background is in writing and journalism so I really enjoy telling the story of the company and of the women who are shaping the future of the ski industry. I also get to hit the road each winter for a demo tour where I get to ski new places, meet new people and introduce them to Coalition. But it’s not all pow days, There’s a lot of less glamorous pieces that go on behind the scenes that keep the company moving forward.
How does your role fit your skill set or personal interests?
I grew up skiing and even at a young age I realized it was mostly a man’s scene. Even though the men I ski with have always been supportive, it was really apparent to me that the industry catered to them. I grew up on the race team and I remember women’s races were second fiddle to the main event (the men’s races) If one of the races was going to be cancelled for weather, it would likely be the women’s. It was always assumed that women weren’t going to be as fast, or that less women were going to compete in bad conditions regardless of the actual interest women were showing.
But there were always women within the industry working to change that. My role models growing up were women like Picabo Street and Sarah Burke. Not only were they the best in their sport but they worked hard to elevate the status of the female athletes they competed with.
After I stopped racing I started coaching young kids on the Mount Shasta team and while it was always in the back of my mind to be a good role model and to foster a love of skiing in the young girls I coached I never really thought about how I was working to create the same change as the women I looked up to as a kid.
Working with Coalition is really special because it’s about so much more than creating bad ass skis and boards. It’s about changing this narrative that I grew up with and shaping a future where girls don’t hear the same old bullshit we heard as kids.
What about your personal convictions align with Coalition?
I like doing things outside of the norm. We’re not a company that takes no for an answer and we’re not afraid of creating change. I knew that 9 to 5 job doing the same thing every day wasn’t for me so I set out to find something different and Coalition definitely fits that. With a new business, everyday brings new challenges and the learning curve is really steep but that’s what keeps things exciting too.
How do you think the Outdoor Industry can work around or within the the Patriarchy?
I think it’s a great time to be a woman in the Outdoor Industry because we’re seeing an explosion of women taking the spotlight and being in charge of their own experiences. One thing that is really interesting to think about, and Jen Gurecki talks about this a lot in her work with SheVentures, is ensuring that this movement is something that is actually benefitting women and that we’re not being commodified by the industry. If you have the chance to hear Jen talk, I highly recommend it, it’ll really get the wheels turning.
I think it’s really important to make sure that women are the ones telling the story and shaping the narrative and I think that narrative needs to be more diverse and inclusive. Right now the story of the Modern Outdoor Woman is very homogenous - a lot of the women I spend time with or read about in the media look like me and have the similar life experiences as me, but I know that’s not representative of all women so I think that part of this movement of smashing the patriarchy means getting the fuck out of the way and learning from women whose voices aren’t currently being heard.
Thoughts on the Sisterhood of Shred?
I think it’s amazing that we’re building this network of rad ladies who support each other both on and off the hill. It’s funny because I’m normally a shy and reserved person so if you told me I’d be travelling around the country and meeting strangers I’d probably have laughed it off, but the reality is that all of the women I have met through Coalition are super fun and open and supportive. I’m excited about continuing to grow the Sisterhood because I want more women to have the same experiences I’ve had with meeting people who are kind and generous and fun as hell to ski with.
What product would you be and why?
I knew you were going to ask this question and I’ve been trying to come up with an answer that isn’t super immature and inappropriate hahaha!
I’m going to go with the Bliss. It’s a freestyle ski and it’s usually not seen as our most versatile ski but it really does rip all over the whole mountain. I think that when I fall back on being shy and quiet that people tend to see me as one-dimensional so I’ve really had to work on speaking up and showing that I’m versatile and ready to tackle the whole mountain.
As told to Jill Sanford