Hello Gospel-heads! There’s more news than fits to print, so be prepared to scroll. Just returned from the Carnival, also known as the Winter X Games in Crested Butte, CO, where I saw all our favorite riders, plus some up-and-coming grrls who I’d like to name as “Snowboarding’s New Grrl Order” including Nicola Thost from Germany, Tara Zwink from Truckee, CA, and Katrina Warnick from Salt Lake City, UT. Talk about a bunch of tough cookies. Not only did these four women wow audiences at the X Games, but they placed in the top five in BoarderCross, halfpipe, and big air (beating the likes of Shannon Dunn). But I have no intention of repeating what SOL did on the X Games (and a fine job they did), so here’s the untold stories from a Gospel point of view, plus loads of other stuff.

The Winter X Games Gospel:
Nikki Pilavakis, boardercross extraordinaire and third-ranked woman on the ISF circuit, had a hard time at this particular boardercross venue as did veteran boardercrosser, Marguerite Cossettini, from Australia. But what is noteworthy about Nikki is that she turned pro at the age of 31. Gives me hope. She also has a baby, works out all the time, and got signed on with Palmer Snowboards. The girls call her the “dozer” as in bulldozer for her aggro roller derby boardercross style, but I just love this gal. Nikki told me after she didn’t make the finals and had some time on her hands, “My goal is to inspire those young mom’s out there, to see that they can be fast and aggressive like me. And now that I’m riding the Palm boards, I feel like a gotta ride like the man himself.”

Marguerite on the other hand, who just won the boardercross the first weekend of January at Killington, was not stoked on this particular course. “It doesn’t compare to the Swatch boardercross tour courses,” said Marguerite. Riders had to apply what they call “cocaine wax” slick stuff for maximum speed that costs as much as the drug just to keep from completely stopping in this stupid flat section in the middle of the run. “But I’ve been having a tough time this year,” confessed Marguerite. Eighteen people she knew died in a landslide in Australia about 5 months ago. Then, another friend died last weekend in a crash, and on top of all the mourning, she broke her wrist in November so badly, they had to take a piece of bone from her hip and put it into her wrist. The scar is gnarly, the stitches immense, and inside her wrist are lots of foreign objects, including two plates, 6 screws, and of course that hip bone. She gets beeped every time she passes through security checkpoint in airports. “I’ll get out of this funk it’s just been a wickedly weird year.”

Some Gospel about the women big air competitors: They held a little boycott in order to get Peter Line back into competition. It seems that after the halfpipe competition, all riders were to ride down the side of the pipe and go over to the big air. Well, Peter and Michele Taggart (who had won the silver), decided to ride the pipe down instead. Some ESPN bigwig got pissed because no one was suppose to charge it after the event was over and leaped into the pipe and grabbed Michele screaming at her to get out of the pipe. Peter, being the chivalrous guy he is, popped in pipe and stuck his face in the ESPN guys way, and told him a piece of his mind. The ESPN guy told Peter he was “Outta there!” and would not be allowed to compete in the Big Air for his actions. So Michele hiked up the big air ramp and told all the grrls that Peter was ousted by a bozo ESPN-er. The girls radio-ed down to the race officials and said that no one would jump until Peter was allowed to jump, also. Forty minutes later, after ESPN freaked out about potentially not having a show, they radioed to the top and told the girls that “OK, Peter, can compete in the Big Air.”

Meanwhile, the day before, Janet Matthews, from Toronto, Canada, was busting backflips in practice. The hypeas that this former diver would take the gold hands down. As a second grade teacher and one of the older women in the Big Air competition, I asked her what she thought of women in snowboarding in general: “I’ve been in sports for a long time and I do see a slant of women in snowboarding not focusing on what they’re actually doing, but on how they are portrayed in the general media. I really think it’s important to focus, because it’s a new sport and we can really differentiate ourselves from everyone else in sports. I want people to say ‘check out how awesome that person is doing, she’s training, she’s aggressive, she’s so inspirational’ and yet she gets this exposure not because she take off her clothes and is portrayed in a sexual way, but because people are inspired by her athleticism. We need to educate people men and women and tell them that sexy ads in magazines, for example, that portray this sport are not cool. This is really important for me as a woman snowboarder to portray this message.” Wow.

The GS Race for the Olympics:
On the GS side of the sport, there’s two more Grand Prix’s to compete in one at Mt. Bachelor the week of the 21-25, and the final in Mammoth, CA, January 28-30. From there the freshly chosen U.S. Olympic team heads straight to the island of blowfish Nagano, Japan.

Betsy Shaw, 32, is one woman who most likely will be racing GS at the Olympics wearing a USA uniform. “I’ve been having my best season in 2 years. I’ve been on five podiums in a row and am ranked third on FIS so far, I think.” So far, Betsy is the highest ranked woman in GS in the U.S., however, the team will be chosen based on performance in the Grand Prix events and Rosie Fletcher (you could add her to the New Grrl Order, too), won the first event. All she has to do is win another and she’s there. Sandra Von Ert, and Leslee Olson (another New Grrl Order nominee) are in a tight race for one of the three spots. Says Betsy, “The pressure’s building coming into the final Olympic qualifiers, and it’s starting to hit me just now.”

“This whole Olympics thing, I’ve got mixed feelings about it. It’s a cool opportunity to go, but everything it entails and the political crap, well, I’m not sure it’s good for snowboarding. Something about the atmosphere that it creates, it’s changed so much and maybe because I’ve been doing it for so long and doing it for fun the stakes have increased and big business and money are into it and it’s hard to see the fun anymore. I’m enjoying the benefits, but it’s changed things and I haven’t digested how it feels to me and how I feel about it. I’m going to finish the season and be very happy to move on. Finish my education and go a whole different direction and I look forward to becoming a freerider and wearing soft boots!”

This just in from Gospel headquarters, a fax from someplace in Europe: “Hi Kathleen, it’s Leslee Olson. Heard you talked to the folks. The season is good, no super results yet, but a fifth in Whistler. I just need to put 2 good runs together in Bachelor and Mammoth. Halfpipe is good, too. Leslee is the only woman trying out in both GS and halfpipe. I have been doing so many FIS races, I hope I can make the Olympics. We’ll see. I just have to go faster! Love, Leslee”

I just figured this out: Leslee is so young, realistically, she has at least four more Olympics in which to qualify. I mean, she’ll only be 28 in 2006. She’ll be 32 , Betsy Shaw’s age, in 2010.

Other News:
Barrett Christy and Hillary Mayberry are sporting the Nike swoosh. The Ballantine Big Air event in Europe last month was a joke. Top pro women riders were invited to compete in what they were told was a cash purse of $100,000. Yet when they got there, organizers said there was no women’s division. “Total discrimination,” says Taggart. They picked two women for the finals to compete with the guys after having a quick little jump session on the side with the other girls that came to participate. The winner, (I think it was Nicola Thost) won $10,000 compared with the men’s winner don’t even know, don’t even care who won $100,000.

A moment of silence please for the break-up of the hottest women’s snowboarding band around, 7 Year Bitch. Another break-up: the Julies from J2 Productions, my favorite filmmaking duo. Julie Morrison was last seen in Vietnam on her way to Thailand before settling down in SF to pursue film editing, while Julie Fitzpatrick picked up a freelance gig with the Room and Board boys filming a TV show called Golden Dreams, which basically will take her around the world filming sports enthusiasts in search of fulfilling their ultimate sport fantasies.

Photog Dawn Kish will be taking singer Kinnie Starr on her first snowboarding experience in Whistler next month, while singer Carrie Aker from the Seattle-based band, “Goodness” was seen ripping up the slopes at Bachelor this season. Rumor has it she’s even better than Elizabeth Davis, the bionic bass player from 7 Year Bitch.

Oh, you know that Mountain Dew commercial series, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls?” Those tonsils you see inside the mouth of that screaming girl are Tina Basich’s and that girl busting off the 50-foot cliff is the one-and-only Morgan LaFonte. Speaking of commercials, the Salomon commercial with Michele Taggart wins this month’s Super Fly Award.

OK, that’s it, I’m done. There’s tons more, but you’ll have to wait until the first of February, when I get back from the SIA on-snow show for the scoop on women’s products, and the final results of who will be going to the Olympics for the United States. As we used to say, “Powder to the People!”

Wigmag@aol.com or www.wigmag.com

participate. The winner, (I think it was Nicola Thost) won $10,000 compared with the men’s winner don’t even know, don’t even care who won $100,000.

A moment of silence please for the break-up of the hottest women’s snowboarding band around, 7 Year Bitch. Another break-up: the Julies from J2 Productions, my favorite filmmaking duo. Julie Morrison was last seen in Vietnam on her way to Thailand before settling down in SF to pursue film editing, while Julie Fitzpatrick picked up a freelance gig with the Room and Board boys filming a TV show called Golden Dreams, which basically will take her around the world filming sports enthusiasts in search of fulfilling their ultimate sport fantasies.

Photog Dawn Kish will be taking singer Kinnie Starr on her first snowboarding experience in Whistler next month, while singer Carrie Aker from the Seattle-based band, “Goodness” was seen ripping up the slopes at Bachelor this season. Rumor has it she’s even better than Elizabeth Davis, the bionic bass player from 7 Year Bitch.

Oh, you know that Mountain Dew commercial series, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls?” Those tonsils you see inside the mouth of that screaming girl are Tina Basich’s and that girl busting off the 50-foot cliff is the one-and-only Morgan LaFonte. Speaking of commercials, the Salomon commercial with Michele Taggart wins this month’s Super Fly Award.

OK, that’s it, I’m done. There’s tons more, but you’ll have to wait until the first of February, when I get back from the SIA on-snow show for the scoop on women’s products, and the final results of who will be going to the Olympics for the United States. As we used to say, “Powder to the People!”

Wigmag@aol.com or www.wigmag.com