The National Ski Patrol recently announced the hiring of its newest executive director, who touts her passion for the mountains as well as extensive leadership skills to be what helped her land the gig. In addition to being passionate about skiing and safety, Meegan Moszynski also happens to be the first female director of the NSP, a traditionally male-dominated organization.
When asked if she has any apprehensiveness on breaking the glass ceiling at NSP, Meegan responds, “No, I’m not anxious. I’m totally 100 percent excited!” Moszynski says she sees her hiring as not unusual for the organization because, “The people I work with are amazing. They’re good people, they’re skiers,” emphasizing that camaraderie and integrity are the foundation of the NSP and its community.
Women in the ski world have come a long way in recent years, a statement to which Moszynski adds, “Don’t listen to what people might tell you about gender ratios in the ski industry now,”she says, “It’s 50/50! Women are amazing skiers, they get out there, they’re strong, and they are fit for their role in this industry.”
But Moszynski's response to whether she had any inspiring female role models growing up, surprisingly, comes back as a no. “It’s not that I never had any female role models. It’s because I never felt like achieving this was totally impossible because of my gender, and I feel super lucky to be saying that.”
While she says being a female might make for immediate media play, the gender-focused buzz doesn't matter in the long run. “Yes it’s a big deal because of the typical gender ratio of patrollers, but I’m an accomplished leader who can affect positive change, that’s it.”
And just what positive changes does Moszysnki have in mind? The NSP made a strategic plan a year and a half ago that she is definitely going to stick to, adapting safety to meet the expanding crowds, growing NSP membership, and building on the communication both within and outside of the NSP about what it means to be a patroller, which number about 30,000 in the U.S.
In general, communicating the excitement of skiing is at the top of Moszynski's list of goals as executive director. On top of that, she hopes to create and expand accessible snow sports safety education. “While I definitely don’t know concretely what this would look like, mountain terrain education is fundamental for everyone planning to hit the slopes. I hope we can create access to resources so everyone knows what snow safety means, what Mother Nature and the weather can deliver, signs of frostbite, really the basics that we forget or that people just don’t know.”
Moszynski caught the skiing bug early on. Growing up in Connecticut she recalls traveling to Snowbird, Utah, to do most of her skiing. “The flight from our house to Utah was easy, I remember just skiing all the time and loving winter. I started at 3 years old, and my younger brother started at the same age, so a love for skiing was just innate, it’s been there since childhood.”
Meegan attended Vermont's Middlebury College for undergrad and, inspired by her on-snow passion, passed her Outdoor Emergency Care patrol exam during her freshman fall semester. “I actually didn’t end up patrolling because I decided to swim for Middlebury instead, something I had done in high school."
She ended up in New York City after graduation, but eventually couldn’t resist the call of the mountains and moved to Jackson Hole for eight years. Moszynski remembers hitting what she calls the “make or break point of living in a ski town,” meaning finding the delicate balance between free time to ski and building a career. She ended up moving to Denver, saying, “The secret’s out now, but Denver is a great dichotomy of a ski town and a city, and just happens to be the NSP headquarters.”
When it comes down to it, the mountains are our greatest equalizers. Women are ski patrollers because they’re tough, qualified, and have the same passionate love for the ski community. Moszyski concludes, “There’s something about skiing, that if you’re a skier, you inherently love—the community, the weather, the mountains... Gender doesn’t change that.”