This article was originally published in the Revelstoke TIMES Magazine, available now at your local coffee shop, book store, or any other business in downtown Revelstoke.
In her time as a professional snowmobiler in Revelstoke, Nadine Overwater has watched as the community continued to explode, while consistently contributing to its growth for women.
Overwater’s experience as a rider and her advice to others is simple: “Don’t be afraid of the throttle.”
She got her start while she was young, growing up in Rocky Mountain House in Alberta.
“I was like your classic snowboarder that got hooked on sledding because I was using it for sled access right back in like 2000,” said Overwater.
While her introduction into sledding might have been classic, her accomplishments in the sport aren’t. Overwater has been in Revelstoke for more than a decade. A true success story, Overwater went from working as a bartender at the Grizzly Pub, to working in forestry, before finally getting involved in snowmobiling in town — a career that has stuck. In her time as a rider, Overwater picked up on an imbalance in the sport.
“When I moved here, I knew one other girl with a sled,” said Overwater.
She said that getting into sledding can be intimidating, which can make it hard for people to feel comfortable on their own. There’s the challenge of affording a sled, transporting it, unloading it, and then the biggest test of all — riding the sled.
With all that she’s done on a sled, Overwater amassed a wealth of knowledge that she wanted to share with her fellow female riders. So, she started a camp to help inexperienced women riders called La Niña Sled Camp. With three different clinics available, Overwater’s camps help riders of varying levels. Covering everything from getting the machine off of a truck, to gear knowledge, to handling the machine itself up in the mountains.
“Men are stronger, especially upper body strength…whereas girls — I try and teach them more throttle control, and weight transfer. So, instead of always, using all your muscles and all your energy, you just have to learn how to get really competent on your throttle,” said Overwater.
Overwater’s goal with her camps is to improve the riders in her camp’s skill and knowledge, so that they can have more independence on the mountain. She said the atmosphere at the camp fosters the riders’ learning.
“It’s almost like they teach each other just by seeing that they’re capable…they get really excited for each other,” said Overwater.
Apart from the education and the learning environment that Overwater encourages, the La Niña camps also provide the one opportunity that Overwater said makes the biggest difference: seat time.
“Seat time is important, because the more time you put out there, the more it becomes like second nature when you need to throttle or brake or, or lean,” said Overwater.
Of the many things that Overwater has done on a snowmobile, her work as an ambassador to the sport here in Revelstoke has been fulfilling for her.
“That’s what drives me, honestly,” said Overwater.
With professional riders coming and going over the years, Overwater wants her legacy in the sport to be a more positive role model for riders. She said social media can create a certain image of motorsport athletes that burns bright and fast, but that’s not the example she wants to set.
“Knowledge is what gives you longevity in the sport and your true passion for it,” said Overwater.
As she pulls into parking lots to go sledding now, Overwater can already see a difference in the demographic. When she asked the Revelstoke Snowmobile club, they said female membership is up to nearly 30 per cent.
“That’s like a really big bump. And you see lots of more girls out there,” said Overwater.
She’s happy for the change and excited to continue to improve the representation. With riders coming from across Canada and the United States to attend her camp, Overwater is helping to change more than just Revelstoke’s slopes.