A womens’ alliance
Photo: Outdoor Women's Alliance

A womens’ alliance

Posted by: Tom Boyd

GoPro Mountain Games and Outdoor Women’s Alliance: Promoting a Better Type of Competition

Guest blog: Haley Littleton, Outdoor Women’s Alliance

Human-powered adventure is about just that: the human aspect of it. What makes outdoor competition worthwhile are the stories of the competitors, both amateur, and pro, who put their skills to the test.

At Outdoor Women’s Alliance (OWA), our focus is developing both the competitor and the community that surrounds the competition. Much like the GoPro Mountain Games, our goal is to promote and celebrate adventure sports and the women that compete in them.

At the GoPro Mountain games on June 8-11, athletes of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities come together to compete in nine disciplines and more than 25 events. Outdoor Women’s Alliance will be celebrating the Mountain Games by cheering on our competing members  – and we’ll also be meeting up at 4 p.m. on Saturday to watch the IFSC Climbing World Cup Finals.

One member, Anna Schroeder, will be competing in the Raft Cross and Raft Sprint. She’s a paddler on the Colorado Women’s Raft Team, USA Women’s Whitewater Raft Team, and a raft guide since 2011.

“Outdoor sports have always been important in my life,” she comments. “They act as my main lifeline, outlet, mediation, and my teacher. The more I got involved in outdoor sports, the more fantastic people I made friends with.”

Anna first got into rafting by becoming a guide: “Guiding was a great marriage between my love of water and playing outside. Three years ago, I somehow found an amazing team of strong, compassionate women who are the Colorado Raft Team and the USA Whitewater Raft team.”

In October, Anna will be heading with the team to Japan to compete at the World Rafting Championships.

Similar to many women involved with Outdoor Women’s Alliance, Anna found her way to our Grassroots Teams through Facebook. She was searching, like most women we talk to, for new friends to get outside with.

“It’s not always easy to find people who share similar interests, and sometimes I don’t want to adventure by myself. OWA is a great platform to find someone to go backcountry skiing with or a climbing partner, share tips, advice, and reviews on gear specific to women.”

What started as a search for an outdoor partner turned into a larger community. Members are always posting questions about gear choices, routes to take, and opportunities to meet up. “It’s cool that women even post looking for roommates. For me, this speaks of how open and welcoming the community is,” Anna shares.  

Outdoor Women’s Alliance and the spirit of the GoPro Mountain Games promote an environment of community, celebration, and healthy competition.

“Healthy competition is about enjoying yourself regardless of the outcome but still trying and pushing yourself to do well,” said Laurie Tewksbury, interim COO of Outdoor Women’s Alliance.

When asked what “healthy competition” means to her, Anna responded that it’s a more of an internal issue. “I like to challenge myself, mentally and physically, by using other people around me to help push the limits.” For Anna, competition is a personal battle that motivates her to be better than she was before.

“If you tried your best and, at the end of the day, you can still laugh or grab a coffee or meal with your fellow competitors, you’re in a good place,” Editor at Outdoor Women’s Alliance, Grace Olscamp says about healthy competition. “OWA has given me a platform to cheer on other women in their feats and inspired me to be more confident in my own adventuring.”

In the end, Anna always tries to leave the race, good or bad, in the water: “Winning isn’t the most important thing. Being supportive and having friends always trumps winning.”

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