Women in the Male Dominated Competition World

Jacklyn Stickley

Women in the Male Dominated Competition World

Jacklyn Stickley

Stratton Mountain in Stratton, Vermont is already preparing for the influx of snowboarders, skiers, and fans alike that will make their way to the resort on March 17-23.  Yes, this is the week of St. Patrick’s day, but these snow lovers will be in town for a different reason—the Burton U.S. Open.  Last year’s Open represented the 25th anniversary of the event.  The U.S. Open is part of the Burton Global Series started by Jake Burton himself.  It is a high profile snowboard tour that runs year round across six different countries.  The BGO, however, is only part of the bigger picture, the TTR title. 

At the center of the snowboard competition world is the Swatch Ticket to Ride World Snowboard Tour.  This all encompassing tour, created six years ago, includes dozens of well known snowboard competitions, including the Burton Opens.  TTR stretches ten months long and spans across both hemispheres.  Last year, it implemented a star rating system which led to a huge jump in growth.  The women’s tour especially benefited from this with added events.  The truly exciting factor of the “new” TTR tour is the pay purse.  Riders are ranked based on the average of their results in the largest six-point events.  The top female and top male each receive $50,000 at the Burton U.S. Open, the last chance on tour for the shredders to prove themselves.  Overall, the TTR awards an unheard of $250,000 in prize money, the largest payout in the history of the sport.

Even with equal TTR payouts, women still have a long way to go.  Flipping through snowboarding magazines, such as Transworld Snowboarding or Snowboarder, 90% of their pages are filled with men.  The imbalance in the industry is especially apparent once you get past the first place position of the TTR rankings.  The prize money is equal up until 5th place.  After that, women stop getting paid, while men continue to get paid all the way through 10th place.  Some people justify this difference because there are a drastically higher number of male pros, making the competition tougher for men.  Male riders have a great advantage over women, though.  The majority of the TTR competition events are limited to males.  Women only compete in 11 out of the 42 TTR competitions. 

Disproportion aside, the equal first place prize purse for men and women is a large step towards equality.  Women have been fighting for the same rights as their male counterparts in the snowboard industry for years.  In the past five years, women have noticeably been getting more media attention, through more magazine exposure, video parts, and added all female competitions.  Misschief Films’ release of As If… in 2005, followed by Ro Sham Bo in 2006, marked a milestone in women’s snowboarding.  These all female snowboard movies featured respectable riding from the top female pros like no one has ever seen before.  They raised the bar in the snowboard industry and proved that women deserve the same respect men receive and paved the way for other all female film companies, such as Float Films and Runway Films to be created.

Although physical limitations make it difficult for women to go as huge on a snowboard as men, the leading female pros in the industry have made up for this with their innovative outlook and riding style.  Fabia Grueebler, creator of Misschief Films said, “I don’t think men’s riding is better, I just think it is different. When you separate it you can showcase different talents.”

 

Another huge step towards more competition opportunities for women was the establishment of three all-female contests added to the TTR Women’s Tour.  These include the highly popular Roxy Chicken Jams and the lesser known Intergirlactik challenge.  There are two Roxy Chicken Jams—one held this year in Mammoth, California on March 28-30, 2007 and one held in Kaprun, Austria on December 14 to 16, 2006.  These events have been getting extensive media coverage, helping women move up in the snowboard world.  The Intergirlactik, held in Laux, France in April, has also been receiving added attention as the years go by.

 

UK rider and Intergirlactik challenger, Posey Dixon felt a great advantage to a girls-only competition—more riding time.  “I’m stoked I went.  It was so fun to be able to shred with some girls without being stuck waiting for turns at a competition.”






 

 

 

 

 

Posted by freelance on 01/17/08



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