Mother-daughter relationships can be diverse and complex yet one of the most significant, as well. They can also be the trickiest to manage. While some mothers are best friends, others see each other once or twice a year. Some face their conflicts; others avoid it at all costs. And still others spar regularly.Like any relationship, it’s a balancing act—at once challenging and rewarding. Yet, in the end, powerful.
If Vail ski patroller, Teri Seibert, had her way, all of her kids would work on the mountain. “It’s the best soul satisfaction,” she says. “You’re out skiing and you’re helping people. Everyone I work with has the same outlook. It goes into that emergency kind of lifestyle”Teri moved to Vail in 1979 and wanted to be a ski patroller. “When I began, there were four women on ski patrol,” recalls Teri. “It was me, Julie Young, Janet Testwuide and Dee Hoskins. And we had to prove that we could do everything that the men could do, maybe even better. There was no exception, and I got that. I watched Jack Eck (Vail’s second doctor) bring our first defibrillator in a suitcase. I’ve watch the program grow and I think Vail Ski Patrol is one of the best, if not the best. And I’m proud of that and I’m super proud that my daughter wanted to do it as well.” In fact, Teri and her daughter, Lizzi, are the only mother/daughter team working on any of the patrols right now. “It’s a huge thing,” says Teri, enthusiastically. “I’m 62 and she’s 26; I’m grateful that I can still continue doing it.”
“My parents were both ski patrollers at one time or another, so it was always something that I thought about,” says Lizzi. “This will be my fifth winter on ski patrol, and I’ve always thought it was the coolest job ever.
“Working with my mom is interesting. It’s never been a problem. We leave whatever’s going on in our personal life behind when we’re at work. My mom was a nurse, so her medical background is certainly helpful to me. I’ve learned a lot from her when it comes to dealing with patients. She’s really personable and has a wonderful way of connecting with whomever we’re taking care of on the mountain, whether is a minor injury or something more serious.This is a bad day for them and she’s really good at making people feel comfortable.” The Seiberts don’t always work together, but there have been times when they’ve shared their relationship with an injured skier.
“One time a girl, who was skiing with her mom got injured and my mom and I got the call,” relates Lizzie. “The mom was really upset, and we shared that we were a mother-and-daughter team and it kind of made them feel comfortable. There’ve been a few instances like that and people think it’s kind of great, actually.”And, of course, there’s nothing greater than a mother’s love. “I’m very impressed with Lizzi’s work ethic and so is everybody else,” says Teri. “She’s been a three-time employee of the month. The patrol is really proud, too, of her work ethic and her leadership and that makes me very proud, as well.”
In 1964, Gasthof Gramshammer opened its doors on Bridge Street. It had 20 rooms and seven dorm rooms. Today, it’s one of the only Vail Village business still operated by its original owners, Sheika and Pepi Gramshammer. Eventually, the Gramshammers’ daughters, Sheika (Little Sheika, as she is lovingly called) and Kira joined the fold, to work in the family business.
“My parents have built a beautiful hotel and I’m so glad that we’re still a family-owned and operated hotel,” says Little Sheika. “My mother and father have done a lot for this town and the hospital.”
“It’s a challenge to bring your children into your life and a bigger challenge to have them work with you,” admits Sheika. “We look at things like day and night sometimes. And sometimes I’m good, and sometimes I’m not so good. In my situation, having my children work with me works well in many ways.” Kira is in charge of the bar and Little Sheika is—more or less—as Sheika puts it, in charge of the hotel.
Sheika does admit that working with her daughters can be challenging at times. “They cannot walk in my shoes as I cannot walk in theirs,” she explains. “And, of course, we have disagreements. And it’s different having a disagreement with an employee than it is with a family member. It’s too personal. However, I feel that both my children have done a great job coming as far as they have come since they’ve been working. Sometimes things are a bit stormy, but the next day is sunshine.”
And Kira and Little Sheika so admire their parents’ work ethic. “Our mom and dad are so proud of this place and it’s not always easy,” acknowledges the girls.“They’ve both worked very hard. It’s the little things, too. Making sure there are fresh flowers. That paint is fresh. That the flags are up. That the place is decorated for the holidays.”
“I’m lucky to say that Pepi and I have two kids who know the business and understand that we worked so long and hard for it,” concludes Sheika. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. Kira is constantly balancing work and being a mother and she does a fabulous job. Little Sheika, too, is amazing and each day I see the great work she does. They both very hard working. We loved what we were doing and I think, I hope my kids like it too.”
Diane Boyer has actively promoted skiing for women through the company SKEA—a combination of the words“ski” and “sea”—founded in 1972 by her parents, Georges and Jocelyn, who loved skiing. In fact, Jocelyn was the first to wear a one-piece ski suit at Stratton Mountain, Vermont, in the late 1960s, a few years before the company helped to make the suit a mainstay for many years.Diane had been running the company in 1995 when her father fell ill. “When we started SKEA, a company called Ski Merwas making one-piece suits,” reflects Jocelyn. “We began importing them, but soon discovered that the American woman’s body and those of the French women were not the same. Nor did they have the same taste. So the company began incorporating my ideas into their ski-line and soon the one piece became de rigueur. It was very successful. And it was so thrilling to go skiing and see the hills covered with our ski suits.”
Diane grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Dartmouth. Unlike many of her classmates who headed to the bowels of New York’s financial district, Diane headed to Vail. “I’ve always been the one who took the path a little bit less traveled,” she says, with a laugh. “When I moved out here, people asked if I was just a ski bum and I said, ‘No, not exactly.’”
In fact, in addition to running SKEA, Diane, the renegade, is a member of the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum’sHall of Fame, was the first female chairman of the board of SIA (Snowsports Industries of America) and was active in bringing the organization’s trade show from Las Vegas to Denver. In the beginning, Diane wasn’t doing much designing.
Although, that’s changed now. “It was my mother’s background,” she says. “My background was more the business end of things. I love selling and I’m fine with doing the math and all the logistical stuff. Now, I have to mentally change gears a lot. When you’re a small entrepreneur, you do a little bit of everything.”
Adds Jocelyn, “Diane is very aware of design as well. She sees that we use dyes that won’t fade, that a zipper is strong enough. Does it perform well on the mountain? Is it warm enough?Waterproof? Insulated enough? Things are always changing and she’s on top of it all.”
Diane’s daughters Katherine and Jocelyn have sometimes worked with SKEA in different capacities, but not on a regular basis. “Both the girls and their friends are great skiers, and it’s always fun to see what jackets they pick out to wear,” says Diane. “I’d love it if Katherine got involved with the business, but she wants to be a doctor, so unless we start to make scrubs, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Eileen Shiffrin says that she and her husband, really didn’t realize how great a skier their daughter, Olympic Gold Medalist, Mikaela Shiffrin, was when she was a youngster.“My husband and I spent time with our kids, (Mikaela has an older brother, Taylor) and I did end up coaching a small group of kids when Mikaela was about six years old. We did drills and skiing and it was really, for us, doing something with our kids and helping them learn a sport. It’s like when they learn how to read and they bring home their homework and you help them. It was just to have fun with our kids. Not to turn Mikaela into an Olympic skier.”
That was just the beginning. “We really didn’t pay much attention, at the time,” continues Eileen. “Mikaela was usually at the top of her group. We felt she was in the mix, but didn’t know that she was one of the best in her age group until she went to a competition in Italy when she was about 14 years old. She did really well, winning the slalom and the GS (Giant Slalom). We were proud of her, but we really didn’t realize that she was as good as she was.”
Of course, now, anyone who watched the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games knows how incredibly well Mikaela skis. In fact, skiing well and winning is her job.“Mikaela works an 80-hour week all year round, I feel that it’s been that way for seven years, ever since she’s been on the ski team,” says Eileen. “When I was her age, I worked 60 hours a week as a nurse, and I know how tiring that was. And I know that in order to do her job well and win races, that’s what she has to do.
“She doesn’t see the job as just participating, she’s in it to win races. And she takes it really seriously and, therefore, it’s exhausting. She has a whole other side to her job, too, which is a lot of media and a lot of sponsor obligations to the ski team, as well, to help raise funds.” Over the years, Eileen would critique Mikaela’s skiing videos and give her daughter tips on how she could improve. And now, Eileen not only travels with Mikaela, but coaches her as well.
“If she’s talking to me as my coach and I’m listening to her as her daughter, that’s one of the most heartbreaking, painful things,” Mikaela told Time magazine. “Those conversations can be terrible. Just because she might be hard on me on the slopes, which I ask her to be, because that’s the only way I can keep improving, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love me as a mom. I’m starting to really grasp that. And it’s awesome.” “We have so much fun together, and we support each other. We read each other’s minds,” shares Eileen. It’s been a very important journey for us. Just watching each other’s backs and trying to run defense. And I run defense for Mikaela as much as I can because I have to. Somebody has to. Mikaela is such a nice kid. She would give and give and give and give until she had nothing left to give.