On Sept. 26, 2022, Hilaree Nelson, with her partner Jim Morrison, reached the summit of Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world. They proceeded to gear up and ski down when, after the first few turns, Nelson was swept off her feet by a small avalanche and carried down a steep slope. Her body was recovered two days later.
In memory of Nelson, Blizzard Tecnica has announced the third annual scholarship for women looking to advance their education in snowsports will be renamed the Women2Women (W2W) Hilaree Nelson Education Scholarship. Whether applicants are interested in avalanche safety, ski instruction, guiding, health/wellness or other related coursework, the program application parameters are intentionally relaxed, as to encourage all women skiers to pursue their individual goals. The grants awarded will include coursework fees along with a pair of Blizzard skis and Tecnica boots.
Nelson was a pioneer, an inspiration, and leader for women in the outdoor world. But she was not just about her epic feats. She did not want to be put on a pedestal, revered and out of touch. She was down on the ground, leading her community every step of the way. “Women need to stop underselling themselves,” said Nelson. “Stop acquiescing and know that if you’re out there pushing the limits, then you’re worth it.” With this scholarship program in her name, Blizzard Tecnica hopes to help carry her torch for future generations of women.
In a press release, Blizzard Technica stated that the W2W program is widely considered one of the most committed women’s programs in skiing, closely and continually evaluating women’s products, needs, and lifestyles as they pertain to skiing. Education is a key pillar for W2W and has proudly awarded 37 women with over $35,000 in scholarships and equipment in the first two years of the scholarship program. Seeing the growth in applicants and learning more about their stories, W2W project leader, Leslie Baker-Brown, feels more confident than ever in its significance to women.
“I’ve been so moved hearing the stories of the women who won W2W Education Scholarships over the last two years,” said Baker-Brown. “These courses are not only helping them advance their mountain skills or careers, they’re also empowering them in their everyday lives and allowing them to inspire other girls and women to know they can do or be anything they want.”
Winner of the 2022 award, Humaira Falkenberg, said, “By attending the PSIA National Academy 2022, I will gain training so that I can, in turn, make investments in black, brown, and indigenous women of color who are PSIA level 1 instructors. This is a cradle in community investment. When you invest in me, I invest in others.”
Applications will be accepted through Dec. 19 2022, at which time Baker-Brown and an international team involved with the W2W program will review all entries and award a number of grants dependent on applications received. Winners will be alerted in January 2023 with funds and products awarded thereafter. To apply, visit here.