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What’s With All the Singles Ski Trips?

Photo: Courtesy of Thursday

In April 2023, just under 500 single people flocked to Val Thorens ski resort in France. The mass sport-meets-dating event was run by Thursday, a dating app designed to be used just one day a week, ideally encouraging people to get off their phones and meet in person. According to Harry Savage, head of partnerships at the app, Thursday has been hosting singles mixers (up to 20 events a week in London over the summer) since the app launched in May 2021, but its first organized holiday upped the ante entirely. Thursday chose skiing because it affords multiple opportunities for connection. “You’ve got the gondola with chairlift speed dating and mountain brunches,” Savage says. “Everyone bumps into each other for the week, and there’s lots of drinking involved.”

Still, when the app put out the call for a singles ski trip, Savage expected 100 or so people to sign up. Instead, it was flooded with interest. The trip was so successful it held a second round this year, in partnership with Pear, a company that makes green rings identifying the wearer as romantically available. (Basically, it’s the opposite of an engagement ring.) LuvSki, as the trip was called, ran from March 23 to 30; before they sold out, solo tickets started at $480, a cost that includes accommodation for seven nights (in an apartment with up to five other people) and access to both the slopes and events during the week.

With bookings coming in from New York, India, and London, Thursday claims the event is “the biggest ski trip in the world for people who hate dating apps.”

Photo: Courtesy of Thursday

And honestly, that scans: As Savage noted, “skiing is quite niche when you think of a holiday,” so how many mass ski trips could there be for singles looking to mingle offline? More than I initially guessed: Each season, there’s an array of dating-oriented ski holidays and events taking place across the world, from singles’ holidays at Hotel Portillo in Chile to Singles Ski Week in Aspen and chairlift speed dating at Mount Norquay in Alberta, Canada; Wilmot Ski Resort in Wisconsin; and Brundage Mountain in McCall, Idaho, which reps for the resort say drew about 80 participants to the slopes in February. A revival of an apparently beloved meet-cute format from 2012, Brundage’s Centennial Express matched singles based on age and skiing abilities. In the world of ski romance, that last point is important. “It’s not always about meeting the love of your life,” Savage observes. “It’s also about meeting like-minded singles.”

Photo: Courtesy of Thursday

For some of those singles, technical skill trumps other dating nonnegotiables. “If you’re trying to meet someone romantically while skiing, just be honest about your skills because it becomes apparent quickly,” advises Jean-Pierre Goulet, director of sales and marketing at Brundage. Kailyn, a Centennial Express attendee, agreed. While she did swap Instagram handles with someone she met between lift rides, “My second date popped out of his skis multiple times and had a wipeout at the end of the run,” she says. “Needless to say, not a match.” Although Goulet says attendees varied widely in their skill levels and included beginners looking to improve at the sport, many expert skiers are looking for someone who can keep up.

For others, though, skiing’s romantic potential seems to have little to do with the sport itself. After all, skiing isn’t known for its accessibility: It’s expensive, for one — this season, the average price of a daily mountain pass came in just under $200, according to one vacation-booking site that ran the numbers, and that’s before you factor in the cost of equipment, lessons, accommodations, and travel. It’s earned a reputation as a pastime for rich white people, all of which may help explain the occasionally anxious dialogue from novices about “marrying into a ski family.” Still, some skiers I spoke with kept an open mind about experience levels and wound up meeting a match.

Photo: Courtesy of Thursday

Tara Woods, for example, was given a free pass to Brundage by her boss in 2006 when she first moved to McCall, Idaho. “I went to the thrift store, bought myself a pair of old skis and boots, and would follow groups of school kids who were learning and just imitate them,” she says. The first time she attempted to ski down the mountain, she fell down the slope and broke her ski. She met her now-husband Will at the repair shop, where he worked at the time. “He gave me free rentals and taught me how to ski during his breaks or days off,” Woods says. They got married in 2008 and now have a 12-year-old son, whom they take skiing every season.

Will and Tara. Photo: Courtesy of the subjects

Tara and Will were simply looking for someone to get outside and enjoy life with, priorities that many single people share. As meeting online quickly becomes the most popular way for couples to connect, nearly half of Americans feel like dating has become more difficult in the past decade. There seems to be a growing desire to return to in-person encounters and activity-centered dating. You could swap “singles skiing” out for “singles hiking” or “singles bowling” and it would likely hold a similar appeal for those feeling worn down by the illusion of options online.

And when you think about it, a chairlift meet-cute can easily resemble a blind date. Gwen Asmussen, of Idaho, met her husband, Jess, in 2008 at ​​Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado through a mutual friend and fellow skier who encouraged the pair to ride the chairlift together. During that short trip to the top of the mountain, Asmussen could tell there was “something different” about him, though she couldn’t see what he looked like through his ski goggles and hat. They skied together two times after that before either of them saw each other’s faces. “I worked in a ski shop and he was coming to pick me up from the shop when we both realized we had no idea what each other looked like,” she says. “All we’d ever seen were just lips and nose.” Luckily, the attraction remained even after the goggles came off, and the pair married in 2011.

Ultimately, there are a lot of people out there who are looking for love and looking for a brag-worthy hobby; singles’ skiing kills both birds with one stone (or one ergonomic ski pole), and the icebreakers are built right in. It also offers an opportunity to invest in platonic relationships. Savage is unsure how many romantic connections were made during Thursday’s trip last year but says many of its 2023 solo bookings are returning with groups of friends. Georgia Lomas, a 28-year-old from Manchester, was one of those second-time attendees. She made friends with the girls sharing her apartment last year. “We came away with a good group of friends but nothing long-term relationship-wise,” she says. Her expectations for this year were similarly modest. She wants to meet new people but is fine with it not ending in a serious relationship. “You can’t force anything on these holidays anyway,” she adds. An important lesson for the ski slopes and the dating field alike.

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What’s With All the Singles Ski Trips?