Sunrise ski aims to empower women


Erin Powell, Staff Writer

Hoards of students hit the slopes each weekends, but a group of UVM women don’t just shred  for fun — they ski for Planned Parenthood.

Chicks on Sticks is an all-female ski group that was started in 2017 by senior Emily Listow. It aims to create an inclusive and fun environment for women who ski and snowboard, Listow said.

Chicks on Sticks is meant to empower UVM women through mentorship and charity work, she said.

Sophomore Brett Koslowsky followed a ski buddy in joining the group after attending a club meeting, she said.

Koslowsky noticed a difference in the attitude and inclusivity of the club compared to some of her past skiing experiences, she said.

When skiing with men she felt the need to push herself, but in Chicks on Sticks it’s more about fun, Koslowsky said.

First-year Emma Staff echoed her in saying “we are all different levels.”

“It’s great to have a community of girls where it isn’t embarrassing to say you’ve never backcountry skied before, and ‘can you teach me?’” she said. “It’s not a competitive or intimidating environment.”

The ultimate goal of the cluvb is “a mentorship program where we provide opportunities for girls in college to be in positions of leadership in educating others and be role models for younger girls,” Listow said.

Listow knows that skiing is an expensive sport and hopes that one day the club can offer “learning opportunities for low-income and underrepresented populations to get on snow,” she said.

She admits this goal is lofty and is currently focused on establishing the club and just having fun, she said.

Chicks on Sticks holds weekly meetings, clinics for different types of skiing, movie nights and networking with women in outdoor industries. They fundraise through an event called the Skinathon, Listow said.

The Skinathon is an event where about thirty athletes pledge to wake up early to skin up a mountain and ski down at sunrise, once a week for two months, she said.

Skinning is when skiers climb up a trail by attaching special bindings to their skis for traction and removing them before skiing downslope.

In order to catch the winter sunrise at 7 a.m., the women begin this mountaineering challenge at an early time.

“I woke up this morning at 4:45 a.m., and was on the mountain by 6, was down by 7:30, got pastries and then was back in my bed by 9,” Koslowsky said.

The event raises money through flat donations and the sponsorship of individual skiers, Listow said.

The proceeds are split between Chicks on Sticks and the New England branch of Planned Parenthood, Listow said.

Beyond the hard work and charitable cause, the club members maintained a sense of fun and companionship.

“I had never backcountry skied before this,” Staff said. “It was just cool to be out there with all the girls and going up the mountain for a great cause.”