Kjersti Buaas Gives Us Insight On The State Of Women’s Snowboarding
According to Kjersti, snowboarding is like dancing. Her style in the park looks effortless and natural, something that many riders strive for. She has a passion for snowboarding and appreciates life, Mother Earth, and what she has to offer us. After consistently placing in contests such as Dew Tour, X Games, both European and US Opens, not to mention receiving an Olympic Bronze in the 2006 women's halfpipe, it's safe to say Kjersti's got bright eyes for the future. Because of her strong influence on the progression of women's snowboarding, we thought we'd get her input on the current status of women's contests, courses and what needs to happen in order to keep women's riding moving forward.—Kaelin Cassidy
What specifically do you like about courses that are built for women rather than men?
Progression comes faster when it is balanced between challenges and boredom; the state of flow, they call it. The courses built for women are designed with jump sizes and shapes for women specifically, which gives a bigger scale of women a chance to perform at their best ability and that is what pushes the progression faster in my opinion, when there are more girls riding at max potential.
Performing comfortably enough to be creative with what you're doing.
Yes! Exactly! It feels great knowing that when you show up to an event, the fact that somebody actually built a course with you in mind, you definitely feel the support. When the state of flow is present, that is when we can blossom the most; seeing and feeling belief from the industry and each other is a big reason for motivation.
What's your take on how courses should be set up in contests? Should women and men be competing on the same course or should women have a completely different course for themselves?
It depends on the course, but if it is built with intention for both genders, yes. If it is built only for men and the level and progression they are at, then no. I believe that the learning and development of technical tricks come faster if the courses are designed for the specific gender. This counts for the men as well, but the men are on a different level, generally speaking. So if we look at progression from a majority perspective, the bigger the group behind it is, the faster it develops. We need the whole women's field to reach maximum potential, not just a few.
What do you think we are we missing for that to happen?
Nowadays we might see the gap increase within women's snowboarding as well as between the guys and the girls. We need to be pro-active. Even if the courses are fine from time to time, it is only in everybody's best interest that we work together to figure out a common platform or stage. When the boys keep progressing with such a fast speed and there are so many good riders, the push is big. We might see the courses get too challenging for the women's field as a whole, not talking about just a few, then the flow zone would be gone. This is why I started snowboarding, because it was the perfect balance of creativity and freedom. I want the girls coming up now to feel that same good feeling. That's where the passion comes from. You know when you're so happy about something that you want to tell the whole world about it? That's how I feel about snowboarding.
What do you think that the girls, in general, are missing that guys are doing to cause their progression to take off at such a rapid speed?
We need more girls that are riding at full potential. More back up and more belief from the media, sponsors and the industry… Take the Wanderlust series for example; it's so rad how two companies, Roxy and Peepshow, that are both so passionate about women's snowboarding can get together and give a big thumbs-up to women's snowboarding. It's an interesting and brave combo, "Edgy Peepshow meets Fancy Roxy." It's beautiful, such a creative clash. But what makes it work is that they have the same goals to push women's snowboarding to higher and greater levels technically, physically, and mentally! Balance is key along with more support, intention, and more confidence.!
How do we get there, to full potential?
More interviews like this [laughs]. There's so much potential in girls marketing, riding skills and branding. There's so much potential in girls marketing, we are crazy for not using it. Just think about how much attention a girl wants in a relationship; in snowboarding, we are the sideshow. Of course, the potential is going to lack a bit. If the guys treat their women with respect, attention and unconditional love, in a relationship, they will be dating a superwoman. In snowboarding, there can be the same superwoman. Think about if there were as many superwomen as possible! The progression of the sport would boom.
Things would really take off.
Yes. There are definitely a lot of superwomen already in snowboarding: Jamie Anderson, Spencer O'Brien, Kimmy Fasani, Hannah Teter, Sarka Pancochova, Enni Rukajarvi, Helene Olafsen…so many. The more the better, because that along with the push of the whole field together as one is amazing, and that's our full potential. We should think majority when we discuss the subject. For me, style comes with personality, so when the person can be free and flow, they can be themselves, and from there you get style. If you get too scared, you can miss out on that and easily get hurt, then the progression takes longer.
Piggybacking on women's potential, what did you think about our "Bridging the Gap" piece?
I think what Kimmy says about available speed is important for everyone. What is gender specific are the technical skills, and to me the best show is when the technical skills are at maximum potential by as many as possible. So, I think the best riding is going to shine the brightest when the course is designed with this in mind.
You clearly have some of the best style out there, what have you been working on for this upcoming year?
Expressing more creativity through different grabs or no grabs, playing with balance and air control, being graceful and dancing like nobody is watching. That's always a goal that motivates me for the long run.