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VertiGals Beginnings

As told by Liza Marshall -

I think it was the winter of '98-99 that a group of Moms from the Hidden Springs Community School began skiing together because our kids were enrolled in ski school on Wednesday afternoons through the school P.E. program. Over the winter, a group of a dozen or so women, not all even Hidden Springs Moms saw each other weekly on the hill at Bogus and discovered what a great time we were having skiing together and having a day that was "ours". 

I recall a particular chair ride up the then very new quad when Norma and I were together, discussing such topics as "why aren't more women up here doing what we do..this is So Much Fun!" We had a great time brainstorming and dreaming about what it would be like with the hill swarming with "lady skiers" on any given midweek day. This train of thought of course led to the obvious next to make it happen.

My being a member of the Board of Directors at the time made it really easy to talk about running our idea by management at Bogus. Eric Stiegemier was enthusiastic and supportive from the very beginning, and he readily accepted Norma's and my offer to become official volunteers to coordinate a social skiing opportunity for women at Bogus Basin. Norma quickly developed a strong working relationship with Eric, her organizational skills and dedication to following through made working with her such a pleasure for any of us.
The name VertiGals was "born" not long after...on a chairlift ride with my husband at Bogus. I had been tossing combinations of words around in my mind for about a week..all involving snow, women, fun, skiing, etc. and suddenly the name just discovered itself. Norma thought it would work just fine, and so of course before we knew it she had lined up a good friend, Cherie Mooney, whose son Justin is a graphic designer, and after a few meetings at Moxie Java we had a cool logo ready to go!

At first we communicated with the growing group via US Mail. Then the genius idea...EMAIL! Norma's computer skills even early on were awesome, and her readiness to tackle something new that would expand her capabilities is well known. By word of mouth, the email list quickly grew from 40 or 50 the first year to well on the way to 150 and currently 361. This way, it is so easy to encourage people to join, be informed, and to start to enjoy the camaraderie and fun immediately...and at no cost. The idea is that this group is un-intimidating, non-competitive and focused on friendliness and fun at Bogus Basin. Norma gave countless hours to the updating and organizing of this valuable email list so that communication would always run smoothly.

Then there are the leaders. From the first, we agreed that women who were participating in VertiGals in order to have other women to ski with might feel even more confident and positive if we had volunteers who would lead small groups of similar ability skiers each day. Women would choose their own groups by where they like to ski, what kind of terrain they prefer, and how fast or slowly they like to go. Norma had a wonderful personal way in which she went about inviting certain individuals to volunteer to be leaders. She made us all feel as though we were the most important, well qualified women in the world. One of her main concerns was that the women who come up to join our groups always feel welcome and that they belong.

Whether you are a leader, a never-miss-a-Wednesday VertiGal, or a newcomer to the mountain, experiencing Norma's warmth and true interest in encouraging each of us to expand the scope of our personal strengths has been an integral part of our days together that will be truly missed in our lives from now on. 

The next time you are in the Simplot lodge upstairs on the mezzanine where we always meet and have potluck, notice on the wall there is a photograph of our beloved original VertiGal, Norma.