Girls’ Gospel Advice:
Advice from the Gospel.
Last month, February 8, Chamonix banned people from skiing out of bounds for two days. For those readers among the Gospel who may be unfamiliar with how odd this ban is, let me explain: Chamonix is the Gospel for backcountry extreme snow sports. The term “extreme” was born in these parts. But after a massive wave of snow swept down a couloir, taking out chalets and killing 6 Chamonites, the snow avalanche safety people and mayor believed the best policy was to keep people from heading up the mountains.
Marguerite Cossettini, a boardercross veteran and backcountry expert in her own right (having dug three people out of the debris of an avalanche in Alaska two years ago), was there when it all went down. “You look straight upÐI mean, you tilt your head back and look straight up into these massive faces of mountains. That is how it is there. People move there for all of this.”
In Chamonix, though, no one tells a skier or snowboarder what he or she can or cannot do. “The lifties were protesting the ban by not showing up. It was the most unprecedented thing Chamonix had ever seen.
“When I arrived, it was bluebird, but there was so much snow. I was wondering why my friends weren’t heading out. But it was so incredibly dangerous. The couloirs leading into the village were sketchy and the glacier skiing above was even a bit unstable. Locals were dyingÐthe legacies were going out and dying.”
Cossettini had just come off a fifth place finish in the Swatch Boardercross event at Mt. Blanc in Italy a week previous. The airlines had lost her luggage, which meant her board bag, which meant she couldn’t train. “The bag showed up at 8 the morning of the event. I made it to the finals, which I’ve been able to do at every event this season, but I just didn’t have the edge for the win.”
According to Cossettini, boardercross is all about wax and base structure this year. “It’s like the courses this year are more structured for TV. They’re wider so that more people can ride in a pack down the mountain. I use whatever wax I’ve got, but I can see “Boardercross Wax” becoming a new thing.”
Nillard Pilavakis had some insightful new opinions on women and boardercross this season as well. “I’ve been seeing more pros crossing over into boardercross than any other discipline. It’s part racing and part freestyle moves. In Europe, boardercross is the hottest thing going.”
Nillard also says that the boardercross/motocross look, which was an original concept started by her sponsor, Palmer Snowboards, is catching on across the board (no pun intended). “This year, even the F2 team has uniforms like ours and Santa Cruz has pants like ours.”
Which reminds me, there’s a new league for women motocrossers called Women’s MX. Their goal is to launch a woman’s motocross circuit, training programs for women and girls, and promote women’s motocross apparel. Check it out at: www.wml-mx.com. Their newsletter is pretty funny. It’s got interviews with pro women riders, interesting little women’s motocross illustrations, and cool shots of girls getting Crusty-Demons-of-Dirt-like airs.
“There’s this one new American girl that people seem to be watching,” continued Nillard. “They call her Snowbunny Peterson because she wears pink bunny ears on her helmet. I was dared to rip her ears off, but I have yet to do it. I mean, she’s OK, she tries and is really pretty and rides for Prom, so she has tight clothes, but for boardercross, she needs to get aggressive.”
Other than Nillard and Marguerite, on the forefront of the boardercross queendom are Maelle Ricker, Karleen Jeffreys (who won the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom earlier this month), and Leslee “The Lesinator” Olson.
In the pipe, Tricia Byrnes is having one of those seasons that can only lead to more Mountain Dew commercials and Subaru Legacy ads. She won the FIS World Cup halfpipe here at The Canyons, Uta February 7, by stomping two runs with back-to-back 540’s and a 720. “I wanted to go off and be awesome!”
Even though the field of competitors was small, Tricia says “every event you go to is always a challengeÐto get into the finals and do your best. Even when the field is huge, it’s the same. You’re just more intimidated.”
The name of the intimidation game in the pipe among the ladies is landing 720’s. “I’m trying to be consistent with them,” says Tricia and “make them bigger and huger.” Leslee Olson can attest to that. She too claims that in the pipe this year, you have to complete a couple 720’s per run to make it into the finals. Leslee, on the other hand, is also interested in researching new personal snowboarding boundaries. She’s not doing the ISF racing thing this season; rather, she’s turned her attention to freestyle events. She’s ruling in boardercross and big air and basically entering everything she has time for from a freestyle perspective. “That’s what I’m into this season and I tell you, it’s been so much fun.”
Leslee, Shannon Dunn, Victoria Jealouse, and the other ladies of the Burton A Team are also touring the country on a Burton Women’s Pro TourÐan event that not only lets kids ride with the pros, but also benefits breast cancer awareness and research. “Basically,” says Leslee, “we go ride and hang out with the little girls that come to the events. We help get them stoked on the sport and the money they give to ride the boards goes to breast cancer research.” The tour makes 10 stops across the country. Go to www.burton.com.
Speaking of breasts, we’re gearing up for our 4th annual Boarding for Breast Cancer (BBC) eventÐthe largest snowboarding Lollapalooza of the yearÐon April 17 at Sierra-at-Tahoe. Bands are yet to be confirmed, but I can assure you, there are some nationally acclaimed performers on the roster. Kennedy will host once again. Proceeds will go to The Breast Cancer Fund, Susan G. Koman Foundation, and the Nina Hyde Foundation. To get stoked, check out Resort Sports Network and Lifetime, which are both currently airing the BBC documentary and some highlights from last year. For more info on the event or to volunteer, go to: www.snowboarding-online.com/bbc.
In Tahoe, Sky Rondenet got hired on at Squaw Valley as the first snowboard patroller ever. “It’s really amazing,” says Sky, “and I’ve been taking an outdoor emergency class and all sorts of things as part of the patroller package.” Backcountry awareness classes are all the rage for women riders this year, which means that either more of us are going off-piste or we’re just getting smarter. I think perhaps, both. Steve Matthews hosted a class in Idaho last month, which Shannon and Leslee attended and Mary Simmons’ Wild Women’s Snowboard Camp has added a backcountry session (with avie and snow safety classes) at Irwin Lodge, CO, March 8-12 for advanced riders.
Since everyone always asks what Victoria Jealouse is up to (practically warranting her own site) I gave her a buzz. Victoria’s philosophy, she says is to follow nature this winter and keep life as free of stress as possible. But when one is as talented, beautiful, and in demand as much as Ms. Jealouse, such pursuits can be difficult. “I can tell you this, that I’m following the snow this season and am going to try and film as much as I can. But the season’s been weird so farÐI’ll let you know what happens.”
Although next fall’s snowboard movie premieres will give us some indication of Victoria’s riding this season, remember, even the Princess of the Backcountry can be found on the cutting room floor. Which, as you all know, happens far too often for my liking.
I want to thank you all for the emails and reassure you, that yes, indeedy, Gospel will continue. Sorry for the massive delay, but I was in the midst of finalizing my redesigned issue of W.i.g. MagazineÐfor Women in GeneralÐwhich has just reached newsstands across the country this week. Subscribers, check your mailboxes. You don’t want this issue getting all slobbery from weather.
Also, because you all seem to have a million questions about women’s gear, riding with your boyfriend (or not), and which resorts are the most female-friendly, starting this month were launching a Gospel Advice column. I’ll pick five per month and attempt to answer them correctly (despite my fear for manufacturer contempt in the near future). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in further detail, at www.wigmag.com.y this week. Subscribers, check your mailboxes. You don’t want this issue getting all slobbery from weather.
Also, because you all seem to have a million questions about women’s gear, riding with your boyfriend (or not), and which resorts are the most female-friendly, starting this month were launching a Gospel Advice column. I’ll pick five per month and attempt to answer them correctly (despite my fear for manufacturer contempt in the near future). Contact me at email@example.com, or in further detail, at www.wigmag.com.