words: Mary Walsh
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes and Mike Yoshida
captions: Pat Bridges
March has been a good month in Colorado so far. Multiple snowstorms have deepened winter's stay and opened up to blue skies and sun—read: conditions are epic in the Centennial State—perfect timing for sixty of the best female snowboarders in the world to descend on a private, custom-built park for Ms Superpark 2013 presented by Gatorade at Keystone Resort.
Keystone's Area 51 has become a favorite of pros and locals alike, due to the meticulous and creative park crew who curate the jumps and rails in the multiple lanes. The park staff's efforts are enhanced by A51's unique on hill layout that fosters an easy atmosphere for riding with your friends, whether you're in a group of four or a gang of fifty. The main line runs rider's right of a double chair that services the park. This chair is the conduit of the main line: first, you can find anyone you're trying to meet up with while you ride uphill past the jumps and jibs; second, great outdoor acoustics allow for encouraging yells and/or heckling; and third, no matter if you're on the snow or on the chair, you never leave the action.
This concentrated atmosphere was only enhanced by the presence of the lady riders and their cumulative excitement on the first day of Ms Superpark. Monday's storm had been groomed into pristine take-offs and landings and Tuesday morning, the clouds broke and the sun warmed up the slopes. SNOWBOARDER couldn't have asked for a better way to kick off the week of shooting with this crew of women.
Day 1 is always about getting bearings. The invited riders get to check out the set up, get their legs underneath them, and begin to explore options and lines. As the gates were opened at 10am, the women of Ms Superpark dropped in with a ferocity that was buoyed by their camaraderie, as well as Mother Nature's temperate generosity. Jenny Jones, Possum Torr, and Ms Superpark 8 Standout, Kjersti Buaas, took to the jump line.
"The day was exciting to just feel out the park and try all the different options that are there, figure out the speed, and connect with people I don't really see normally–get back to the Superpark vibe," commented Kjersti. "It's always a different vibe than the contests so it's always fun to change it up….Here it's a little more free and a little more up to the individual rider to decide what they want to do, what they think is fun, what they can progress on. I think that's really cool, because it shows what's best of each rider, in their best environment, and you can also get inspired by each other."
Below the park shack, the A51 crew constructed a bowl corner to quarterpipe, with an additional frontside hip on the left side. After lunch, a session started on the quarter. Handplants, cripplers, big airs, and a few doubles were witnessed as Marie-France Roy, Sarka Pancochova, Silje Norendal, Mary Rand, and more, pinned it toward the transition.
At the end of the day, another crew gathered at the closeout island to lay waste to the rails. Kelly Underwood was hitting backside 180 stalls on the top of the metal, corrugated tunnel and Alexa McCarty was popping frontlips from the corrugated transition onto a flat rail. Madison Blackley, Stephanie Sue Feld, and Lynn Neil were sessioning the downrail. Brooke Voigt tackled the redirect wallride and Christy Prior was just all around killing it. The session went off, and it was only a preview of what's to come the rest of the week.
Marie-France Roy was able to attend the event for the first time in a few years, when she had an opening in her filming schedule. This backcountry maven may not spend as much time lapping the park anymore, but her talent is apparent. "I don't ride park that much lately, but it was really, really fun. All the girls were sending it for the first day, I was so impressed on how much they were throwing down. The progression is crazy now. It was so worth it to come for me, even it was for only one day."
For tomorrow, the weather report is looking so good that we're not even afraid to jinx it by claiming open jacket and sunglasses temps. Stay tuned for croakies, SPF, and more action from Ms Superpark Day 2, brought to you by SNOWBOARDER Magazine, Keystone Resort, and Gatorade.