Here at FamilySkiTrips, we spend a lot of time tackling all sorts of terrain. And whether we’re skiing at Courchevel or Vail, one thing’s for sure: the more confident we feel, the better we’re able to ski.

Confidence buoys us up. It gives us the mind-set we need to forge ahead, take risks, and try new things. But according to Wendy Clinch of, the leading online community for women who ski, a lot of skiers ­— no matter what their ability or how long they’ve been skiing — seem to suffer from lack of confidence, at one time or another.

I spoke to Wendy recently about what it takes to gain the confidence that some of us may be missing.

Heather: Is confidence more of an issue for women than it is men?

Wendy: Sadly, yes. Study after study shows that women tend to underestimate their abilities, men tend to overestimate theirs. There are all sorts of theories about this: it could be hormonal, biological, or societal, or it could me a mix of all three. I also think that women are conditioned from a very young age to be good girls — good mothers, good wives, good daughters — so much so that we’re unwilling to give ourselves over to something in which we’re not perfect. And when we don’t feel like we’re good enough, we tend to have negative thoughts, which can lead to poor skiing, which can lead to more negative thoughts, which can lead to more poor skiing. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t do us any good.

Heather: So what can skiers do to feel more confident?

Wendy:  Confidence has to start before we even get to the hill, and the way you feel physically plays a big part of this. If you’re not physically fit, you’re going to have a rougher time on the slope, and that’s going to affect your confidence when you ski. So you need to initiate a fitness program to build up your strength, balance, and stamina. You also need to make sure your equipment is in good shape, because poorly functioning equipment can be a confidence shaker, too. So make sure your bindings work properly and your skis are waxed and tuned. Your highest priority, however, has to be your boots, because if your boots are too loose, your skis aren’t going to respond the way they’re supposed to, and that’s going to kill your confidence.

Heather: And once we get out on the ski slopes?

Wendy: My #1 tip: Take ski lessons, because it’s easy to lose confidence if you lack skills. But be sure to engage a professional ski instructor: not a spouse or significant other.  There’s too much emotional baggage tied up in learning from a loved one.

Positive thoughts are important, too. You need to work at building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. Focus on your strengths. Studies show that maintaining a positive attitude can do wonders for your confidence. So instead of saying ‘I can’t,’ tell yourself ‘I can,’ and amazingly enough, you will!

Another great tip: Find yourself a cheering section. A good support group is critical. For me, the women at The Ski Diva have been an amazing asset. We all share a passion for skiing, and we work to bolster one another up on our online community.

Heather: Fear can be a confidence crusher, too. Any advice for dealing with that?

Wendy: Fear is basically lack of confidence, and it’s something that all skiers feel from time to time. One of the best things to do when you’re afraid is to just breathe. When you’re nervous or scared, your body tends to tense up; your heart rate increases and you hold your breath. Deep breathing sends a signal to your brain that everything’s okay and you can relax.

Another great tip: break a scary run into smaller, more manageable parts. And keep moving, because if you stop, you may not be able to start again. I’m also a strong subscriber to mindfulness: paying attention to the here and now, without worrying about something that may or may not happen farther down the hill. That can do a lot to get rid of fear.

Heather: So is confidence like a magic potion? Will it make me a better skier?

Wendy: It can certainly help. If you’re more confident, you’ll feel better about your skiing, so you’ll certainly have more fun. And bottom line, that’s what skiing is all about.

Wendy Clinch is the founder and owner of, the leading online community for women who love to ski. She is also the author of two Ski Diva mystery novels: DOUBLE BLACK and FADE TO WHITE.

More ski tips 

Things NOT to say to a skier

Heather Burke –  and Luxury Vacation Guide