An early season hype-up at the 2005 Roxy Chicken Jam in Park City, Utah.

By Jennifer Sherowski

There’s something exciting about the early season-a vibrant buzz that goes beyond the normal just gettin’ hyped to get shredding. It has something to do with an entire abundant winter spreading out before you and the tingling cognizance of undiminished possibility-anything can happen.

Certain competitions held in November and December have this exciting vibe of potentiality, too, and the mid-December Roxy Chicken Jam held in Park City, Utah is definitely one of them. Each year a new crop of ladies does things you weren’t expecting (like then-rookie Silvia Mittermà…ller’s giant frontside 720 in December of 2004), and each year a crew of last season’s new crop comes into their own as certified shred heavyweights.

So where was the hot-action barometer pointing this year? Well, by way of new blood we had Christina Curry flying around the course and absolutely slaughtering the prequalifying competition with riding that even had her in the lead for a while during the finals-linking serious spin combos at the top that culminated in a giant corked backside 540 off the big kicker and a slick 50-50 on the wallride. This chick rips, and although she landed in fifth at the end of the finals, she definitely gave every one of those big-time pro girls a run for their money. You’ll see more out of her, and soon.

Another powerful rookie who made her presence known was the Netherlands’ Cheryl Maas. She is fricking good-sweet, solid, skatey style. She won the best-trick award with her stomped backside sevens off the big kicker, but she did go for a few 900s and came pretty close.

As for big-name ladies putting a polish on their park game, we saw stuff like this: backside rodeos out of Tara Dakides, big-time frontside sevens from Natasza Zurek, back-to-back 540s courtesy of Priscilla Levac, and switch backside threes from Jenny Jones. Yep, Jones is from the U.K. and is a powerful park-riding presence-she tweaks big-grabbed frontside spins, including 360s and 540s, and knows how to manage her speed and kick ass. And Priscilla Levac-she’s the master of smoothness. She stepped up her run in the last half hour of the finals with a frontside to Cab five combo that, along with her slick rail moves, got her on the podium. But really, it was three-time Chicken Jam champ Natasza Zurek who continued to quietly push the limit. She knows how to snowboard, and yet seems to constantly improve. Truly impressive.

As far as the Chicken Jam course goes, it seems to get better every year, finding a nice balance between big-feature progression and an early-season warm-up gig. “I for sure think there’s a place in snowboarding for events like the Chicken Jam,” says Silvia Mittermà…ller. “It has really made a name for itself and has kinda turned into the event where everyone meets up again the first time in the new season.” Yeah, the shape of women’s riding changes every year, and this is only the beginning.

Results

Natasza Zurek

Priscilla Levac

Cheryl Maas

Jenny Jones

Christina Curry

Tara Dakides

Silvia Mittermà…ller

Leanne Pelosi

Best Trick: Cheryl Maas, backside 720 on the big kicker