Women On The Verge

The future of female supershredding is now.

By Jennifer Sherowski

A storm is brewing in women’s snowboarding. The wind has kicked up, electricity is crackling through the air, and a giant, purple thunderhead is forming on the horizon. A lightning bolt already struck the halfpipe arena last season when three teenage girls touched down frontside 900s in the same early season contest. On the freestyle front, energy is building, and judging from the the rumblings and the massive storm clouds, it’s gonna be one hell of a downpour.

For the first time in the history of snowboarding, every regional zone seems to be witnessing its own eruption of serious female shred skills. We’re not talking about one or two anomalies of talent anymore—it’s a swarming scene of girl-tastic talent spreading the world over. “A lot of girls are reaching the point where they’re getting good after years of riding,” says female freestyler Hana Beaman. “Before, there weren’t many of us who’d been snowboarding long enough to really progress. Now, women have been riding for seven or nine years, and they’re really pushing their riding levels.”

Whatever the reason, the storm of talent is undeniable—and we have photographic evidence to prove it. Flip through the next few pages and meet the energy inside the thunderhead—the future of women’s snowboarding.

Sneak Attack

On a bleak January afternoon in Breckenridge, Colorado, an unsuspecting crowd gathered to watch a Grand Prix halfpipe event. Interest was low. No big guns showed up—no Powers or White to put on a stunt show. People didn’t realize they were about to see precedents set, and from a direction no one expected.

I don’t remember who did it first, but one of three up-and-coming halfpipers (Elena Hight, Hannah Teter, and Lindsay Jacobellis) threw down a large and in charge frontside 900. The crowd gasped in disbelief and rubbed their eyes. By the end of the finals, Hight, Teter, and Jacobellis had all stomped several explosives nines, and the crowd was in a frenzy.

You could feel something big changing in women’s snowboarding at that moment—rust had been knocked off the old bulwarks, and the things were moving again. I tell you, before this day, you could still conceivably win a girls’ halfpipe contest with a frontside 540. Afterward, things were never the same. History had been moved forward by the ones who always push it—the youth.

Elena Hight

Age: 13

Lives: South Lake Tahoe, California

Women you look up to: Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler, Kjersti Buaas, Stine Brun Kjeldaas, Anne Molin, and of course, Torah Bright and Hannah Teter.

“A bunch of my friends kept telling me I could do a 900 really easily and that I should just try it, so I did and landed it second try. It was great—but I had so much speed coming out of it that I hit some people at the bottom of the pipe.”

Hannah Teter

Age: 16

Lives: Belmont, Vermont

Recent contest results: This past season, I won the first two Grand Prix halfpipes in Park City and Breckenridge and got second place at the one in Aspen. I placed third in the X-Games Halfpipe, third in the U.S. Open Slopestyle and Halfpipe, won an F.I.S. World Cup in Japan.

“Well, the 900 was one of the goals I’d set for myself in the beginning of the year. I was at a contest, and I fell in my run. I was super pissed and just hucked it out, and it came aroundhat was the birthplace of the nine for me.”

Lindsay Jacobellis

Age: 17

Lives: Stratton, Vermont

Future plans: Make the U.S. Olympic Team.

“Landing a 900 was an amazing feeling. My whole body was shaking afterward—scary and exciting at the same time. It was the next logical progression in rotation tricks for me. Women are pushing the bar higher in the halfpipe now, so we need to do the guy tricks.”

Run For Cover

Snow-shred history is littered with strong female snowboarders—riders who didn’t seem bound by the same gender rules as everyone else, ones like Shannon Dunn, Barrett Christy, and Nicola Thost, who you were sure could do anything they set their minds to. But never have so many women been ripping so hard all at once.

What happened? Well, all the up-and-coming girls might’ve put their heads together and decided to turn up the heat, but I think it’s more like how a giant flock of birds suddenly hooks right without any overt communication between members—only instead of turning right, this flock turned the direction of totally going off. Keep an eye out for Erin Comstock and Alexis Waite’s stylish street-rail riding, Priscilla Levac and Amber Stackhouse’s smooth domination of the park domain, Torah Bright’s explosiveness, and Kjersti Buaas’ continual slaughter of the halfpipe.

Alexis Waite

Age: 21

Lives: I’m in transition but spent the last three seasons in Truckee, California.

Roots: Seattle, Washington

What would your ideal snowboard career be like?

I want to be well respected by everyone in the industry for my riding ability. I want to film and have a full part with one of the A-grade film companies—shooting {photos} goes with this, and I want to do this as much as I can. I want to be a role model for young snowboarders and generally regarded as a good person. Contests aren’t as important to me, but I’d love to win a big one soon.

Have you noticed a changing of the guard recently as far as women’s snowboarding goes?

There’s a huge changing of the guard going on right now. Women’s riding has collectively progressed so much in the last year—before, we’d only have one new breakthrough rider per year or so. I think girls are suddenly stepping it up because we’re tired of being left behind in the men’s field and not being invited to go build jumps, hit street rails, or film with the guys. Women are going to need constant progression now to keep their positions in the snowboarding world.

Amber Stackhouse

Age: 23

Lives: Portland, Oregon

Roots: Maine

How important is riding with guys as opposed to girls in pushing your snowboarding?

I’d say that I’m pushed equally riding with guys and girls. The difference is that girls are usually moving along at a parallel pace—we take similar steps and all push each other—and with guys, the skill level is usually higher, so I’m pushed by the idea of trying to catch up.

Which women riders are you impressed with these days?

I’m always impressed by women snowboarders—especially ones who can charge with style. Some names that come to mind are Kjersti Buaas, Pauline Richon, and Janna Meyen. I was also super impressed by Gretchen Bleiler this past season.

Erin Comstock

Age: 25

Lives: Salt Lake City, Utah

Roots: Incline Village, Nevada

What’s up with women’s riding right now?

I’ve seen a definite progression in style—the same tricks are being done, it’s just off of bigger stuff with more steez.

Do you like riding with guys or girls better?

I grew up riding with my guy friends, and I definitely saw myself progress—but when I ride with girls, I see myself learning new tricks. There’re days when I progress a lot more riding with a certain sex.

Priscilla Levac

Age: 23

Home: Whistler, B.C.

Roots: Quebec, Canada

What kind of rider are you?

Totally freestyle!

Who are you impressed with right now in women’s riding?

Janna Meyen—as always.

Torah Bright

Age: 16

Home: Salt Lake City, Utah

Roots: Cooma, Australia

What would your ideal snowboard career be like?

Frolicking in the wilderness will do me just fine.

Do you like riding with guys or girls better?

When you’re a girl, riding with guys is a must—it pushes you a lot more … but riding with a good bunch of girls, it can’t get much better than that.

Kjersti Buaas

Age: 21

Lives: Trondheim, Norway

Roots: Trondheim, Norway

What are some of your recent contest highlights?

I’m pretty happy with fourth place in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics! I also won the Vans Triple Crown in Breckenridge, Colorado last season, which I’m very happy with.

Have you noticed a changing of the guard as far as women’s snowboarding goes?

I’ve seen a lot of youngsters coming in, and it’s super fun to watch them ride and see how much energy they have and that they’re busting out crazy moves with their snowboards! It’s not so much that the older girls are fading—they’re still here and rock just as much as the younger kids, but they’re much more safe!

Pushing The Forefront

The changing of a guard doesn’t happen overnight. Every movement has a few leading the charge, and that’s where women like Hana Beaman, Gretchen Bleiler, and Annie Boulanger fit in. Chances are, you’ve heard their names and seen them around. Beaman and Boulanger have followed in the footsteps of gnarly freestylers like Janna Meyen in the execution of a legit, progressive form of technical snowboarding. And Gretchen Bleiler dialing her trick combinations last season let off a thunderclap heard round the world when she clicked, among other things, the elusive Crippler seven and proceeded to win every halfpipe contest she entered—including the Winter X-Games and the U.S. Open. These girls are holding it down and are set to become the next supershredding legends of tomorrow—guaranteed.

Hana Beaman

Age: 20

Years snowboarding: Fourteen

Recent contest highlights: First in big air and slopestyle at the Sims World Championships in 2002. First in slopestyle at the 2003 U.S. Open. Second in slopestyle at the 2003 Winter X-Games.

“I’m impressed by some of the girls who have been in the scene for a while but are trying new stuff and getting into aspects of snowboarding other than the ones they’re comfortable in—girls like Kelly {Clark}, Gretchen {Bleiler}, and others who’ve just been riding awesome, like Janna {Meyen}, Torah {Bright}, Priscilla {Levac}, and {Jamie} MacLeod.”

Annie Boulanger

Age:

What’s up with women’s riding right now?

I’ve seen a definite progression in style—the same tricks are being done, it’s just off of bigger stuff with more steez.

Do you like riding with guys or girls better?

I grew up riding with my guy friends, and I definitely saw myself progress—but when I ride with girls, I see myself learning new tricks. There’re days when I progress a lot more riding with a certain sex.

Priscilla Levac

Age: 23

Home: Whistler, B.C.

Roots: Quebec, Canada

What kind of rider are you?

Totally freestyle!

Who are you impressed with right now in women’s riding?

Janna Meyen—as always.

Torah Bright

Age: 16

Home: Salt Lake City, Utah

Roots: Cooma, Australia

What would your ideal snowboard career be like?

Frolicking in the wilderness will do me just fine.

Do you like riding with guys or girls better?

When you’re a girl, riding with guys is a must—it pushes you a lot more … but riding with a good bunch of girls, it can’t get much better than that.

Kjersti Buaas

Age: 21

Lives: Trondheim, Norway

Roots: Trondheim, Norway

What are some of your recent contest highlights?

I’m pretty happy with fourth place in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics! I also won the Vans Triple Crown in Breckenridge, Colorado last season, which I’m very happy with.

Have you noticed a changing of the guard as far as women’s snowboarding goes?

I’ve seen a lot of youngsters coming in, and it’s super fun to watch them ride and see how much energy they have and that they’re busting out crazy moves with their snowboards! It’s not so much that the older girls are fading—they’re still here and rock just as much as the younger kids, but they’re much more safe!

Pushing The Forefront

The changing of a guard doesn’t happen overnight. Every movement has a few leading the charge, and that’s where women like Hana Beaman, Gretchen Bleiler, and Annie Boulanger fit in. Chances are, you’ve heard their names and seen them around. Beaman and Boulanger have followed in the footsteps of gnarly freestylers like Janna Meyen in the execution of a legit, progressive form of technical snowboarding. And Gretchen Bleiler dialing her trick combinations last season let off a thunderclap heard round the world when she clicked, among other things, the elusive Crippler seven and proceeded to win every halfpipe contest she entered—including the Winter X-Games and the U.S. Open. These girls are holding it down and are set to become the next supershredding legends of tomorrow—guaranteed.

Hana Beaman

Age: 20

Years snowboarding: Fourteen

Recent contest highlights: First in big air and slopestyle at the Sims World Championships in 2002. First in slopestyle at the 2003 U.S. Open. Second in slopestyle at the 2003 Winter X-Games.

“I’m impressed by some of the girls who have been in the scene for a while but are trying new stuff and getting into aspects of snowboarding other than the ones they’re comfortable in—girls like Kelly {Clark}, Gretchen {Bleiler}, and others who’ve just been riding awesome, like Janna {Meyen}, Torah {Bright}, Priscilla {Levac}, and {Jamie} MacLeod.”

Annie Boulanger

Age: 23

Years snowboarding: Nine

Recent contest highlights: First in slopestyle at the 2002 U.S. Open. Third in slopestyle at the Sims World Championships in 2002. For 2003, I’ll stick with my favorite excuse—I was injured!  

I don’t really have a specific goal {in snowboarding}. I’m living my dream right now, so I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing and push myself until Advil in the morning doesn’t do it anymore.”

Gretchen Bleiler

Age: 22

Years snowboarding: Eleven

Recentcontest highlights: Halfpipe first places at the Vans Triple Crowns in Mammoth and Big Bear, the Winter X-Games in Aspen, the Park City World Championships, the Grand Prix events in Mt. Bachelor and Aspen, and the June Mountain AST—all in the 2002/03 season.

“There’s definitely a change going on, and I’m noticing it the most in halfpipe competitions. There’re young girls who are really hungry to win. It’s changing the overall feel at the top of the halfpipe.”

 

 

e:
23

Years snowboarding: Nine

Recent contest highlights: First in slopestyle at the 2002 U.S. Open. Third in slopestyle at the Sims World Championships in 2002. For 2003, I’ll stick with my favorite excuse—I was injured!  

I don’t really have a specific goal {in snowboarding}. I’m living my dream right now, so I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing and push myself until Advil in the morning doesn’t do it anymore.”

Gretchen Bleiler

Age: 22

Years snowboarding: Eleven

Recentcontest highlights: Halfpipe first places at the Vans Triple Crowns in Mammoth and Big Bear, the Winter X-Games in Aspen, the Park City World Championships, the Grand Prix events in Mt. Bachelor and Aspen, and the June Mountain AST—all in the 2002/03 season.

“There’s definitely a change going on, and I’m noticing it the most in halfpipe competitions. There’re young girls who are really hungry to win. It’s changing the overall feel at the top of the halfpipe.”