Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Dudes on Nordic Skis Aim to Emulate the VAMPS
Roger Squier and Frank Alexander put a little “grrrr” in their demeanor as they practice skiing without poles under the tutelage of Nordic Olympian Betsy Youngman.
Friday, December 28, 2018


Secretly, Jamie Lieberman was a little envious of the female skiers who scissored their way along the Nordic trails in their black Nordic wear punctuated with purple flourishes.

He could see the progress individual women were making from week to week. He admired their camaraderie. And they always seemed to be having so much fun!

“The Vamps are cool. How come there isn’t a group like the VAMPS for men?” the anesthesiologist  asked VAMPS founder Muffy Ritz.

The founding members of Dudes on Nordic Skis pose with their first coach Mary Rose.

“You could start one!” replied Ritz, whose Vomen in Muffy’s Program, now in its 22nd year, is known across the nation and even around the world.

Lieberman took the challenge, as did seven like-minded men. And that became the impetus for the DONS (Dudes on Nordic Skis).

The group has doubled in size to at least 16 men this year.

They have their own weekly ski classes coached by former Olympic and national racers who also coach the VAMPS. They have vests, hats, socks and buffs sporting the DONS logo. And they’re even taking on the VAMPS Challenge, which includes a weekly scavenger hunt, participating in a race, double poling around the Durrance Loop twice and more.

The DONS gather for a ski tuning clinic, complete with beer and chips and dip, offered by The Elephant’s Perch. PHOTO: Jamie Lieberman

One difference—they have to be pictured on skis with cigars. And they’ve already lined up chocolate cigars since they don’t want to take a chance that inhaling with cut their lung capacity.

Of course, they’re happy to mix at the colorful parties the Vamps are famous for.

“They say ladies are like Velcro—put them together and they hang out,” said Lieberman. “And they say that guys are not like that. But it’s been my experience that guys do like getting together and learning something and getting better at it. And some of the guys like to hang out for coffee afterwards.”

Several of the DONS took advantage of early season refreshers offered before Christmas at Galena Lodge. They joined members of the VAMPS for skate and classic lessons, sharing their experiences afterwards over split pea and ham and lentil soup that came with the lessons.

Ed Wong shows off a pair of the snazzy socks DONS got by joining in with the VAMPS during their early season refresher classes at Galena Lodge. PHOTO: Karen Bossick

The pairing together of the sexes came with a few humorous moments.

When Coach Sloan Storey suggested skiers form a circle facing each other “like petals on a flower,” Buck Drew was quick to point out that “Guys would call this a huddle.”

“I need to learn to skate ski. I’ve been dabbling at it, and these VAMPS—they’re such a large enthusiastic group. And the instructions are wonderful,” said Ed Wong, a hospital pharmacist from Seattle.

Olympic Betsy Youngman led Roger Squier and Frank Alexander hopping down the trail during one lesson.

Look for this logo on DONS apparel.

“I was in the North American championship race when all of a sudden a squirrel appeared on the track. With red klister on my skis, I knew I had to jump or that squirrel would have stuck to my skis the rest of the race,” recounted Youngman, who admitted her nickname is “Bam Bam.”

Youngman pointed out how beginners often look they’re dragging one ski as they climb hill.

“Both skis participate,” she told the men.

And arms do 40 percent to 60 percent of the work, she added.

“You should feel as if you’re squeezing a donut with your stomach as you ski—your core is the way get arm strength into skis,” she added.

Ritz said the VAMPS  formed out of a need for women to get together and become better skiers. In the process, many have broadened their experience, taking part in events like the upcoming World Master’s competition in Norway and the Norwegian Birkebeiner that follows.

“We’re still one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Nordic programs of our kind nationwide,” she said.

Ellie Ellis, who took part in the refresher lessons with a couple of the men, said she likes the notion of the guys imitating the VAMPS.

“I think it’s great to let men tag along—we’ve got the best coaching in the world,” she said. “I’ve had men tell me, ‘Whoa! You’re a VAMP!  I don’t think I can ski with you. But, really, we’re just committed go-for-it women . And I think a lot of males have got to have that same spirit.”


The DONS will have men’s-only lessons at noon Mondays and 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays at Lake Creek during January and February. For more information, call Galena Lodge at 208-726-4010.



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