Quote: Yes, you will make mistakes, but do it all anyway because in the trying, you’ll get stronger and smarter.

Tina Biddle

Director of Ski Patrol, Snowbird, UT

Tina Biddle is the Director of Ski Patrol at Snowbird. She is a trailblazer in her field as one of the select few women to hold this position of leadership in a predominantly male-centric profession.

Q: Ski Patrol Director is a new position for you – are you the first woman to achieve this position and what do you love about the job?

A: This is my first season as Patrol Director, managing 75 ski patrollers and safety staff on the mountain every day. But I’m not the first woman in the country to lead in this category. Female Patrol directors are few and far between – the role has been traditionally male, and sort of a “boy’s club” to some extent. I am the first at Snowbird, and it feels good to break the mold.

That said, when I was offered the position as Patrol Director my focus wasn’t on the female aspect of it. I just wanted it – and I had the confidence to go get it. It wasn’t easy though. I had to throw myself out there – out of my comfort zone to stretch my potential and see what was possible.

What I love about the job is skiing powder, of course! I equally love the people I work with, and the unique challenges that each new day brings – assisting skiers in distress, high angle rescues and more. There are definitely parts of the job that are unpleasant and sometimes deeply troubling - from kicking trespassers out of closed areas to dealing with fatalities. I’m trained to handle it all, but some aspects I wish I didn’t have to worry about.

Go for it. Even if – especially if - it scares you.

Q: What do you think is the main obstacle for women breaking barriers in male-dominated professions?

A: Confidence is huge! Men don’t seem to need confidence as much as women because they are not underrepresented in most leadership positions. But since women are, there is an underlying current of ‘maybe I’m not good enough’ that we all need to face and then reject so we can actually reach for what we want and deserve.

When I was growing up, I never would have guessed this would be my career. I went to college at San Diego State and got a financial services degree. After school I moved to Breckenridge and worked at a bank. One day I thought to myself: ‘I live in a ski town, so why do I work in a bank?’ So I got a job at an outdoor store in town, shipping and receiving, counting inventory. On my off time, I skied every day. One colleague was a patroller and he invited me to check it out – I was immediately hooked and I went for it.

At the time there were less resources for women in skiing. Now, women-only classes like She Jumps and Beacon Clinics are on the rise, teaching everything from skiing skills to mountain safety. These opportunities help women and girls feel empowered to get out there – whether with a group or alone – to be safe, have fun and push themselves.

Q: Do you have a mantra that you live by? Something to get you through the difficult times?

A: Actually, yes, and I’ll tell you a cool story about it. I once was told by a therapist that I should examine the details of my own birth to learn more about myself. So, I asked my mom and she told me that I was born by forceps. The therapist said that this was a sign that I like to stay in my comfort zone, and it’ll take force to get me to move. I took that anecdote to heart and since then, force myself to say ‘yes’ when my first reaction is ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know.’

Q: Tell us about a time when you did something challenging and came out ahead.

A: Some years ago (17 to be exact), I was invited on a private river trip in the Grand Canyon with a group I barely knew. I wasn’t very experienced on rivers at the time, nor did I really know anyone, and I was not that comfortable with the whole thing. Turns out, I went and met the man who I would later marry - so that turned out well!

A few years later, I got a call from a river manager who knew that I’d been on a few Grand Canyon trips before. He asked if I could row a baggage boat in the Grand Canyon for an upcoming commercial group and I agreed. I was so nervous because it was a BIG river, huge consequences if I messed up and – holy shit – they trusted me! It all turned out well and I learned so much about myself in the process.

I believe that all you can do is try your best and if you do, you might (and probably will) make mistakes along the way, but mistakes are just portals to learning. It’s more important to learn how you recover from mistakes than to avoid them altogether.