words: Mary Walsh and Jenna Kuklinski
Each spring, SNOWBOARDER Magazine invites the top tier of talent to participate in the largest gathering of female snowboarders every season, Ms. Superpark. Far from a contest, Ms. Superpark is built on a foundation of quality jumps, rails, and transition features laid out for women to session over a period of four days. Ladies ride what they're stoked on, when they're stoked on it and ideally this catalyzes progression throughout the event. Regulars on the contest circuit ride alongside backcountry experts and street-saavy women. Accomplished professionals, many to the point of legend status, sit next to up and comers on the lift, and follow one another into new lines once strapped in. Ms. Superpark is a melting pot of styles, techniques, disciplines, and genres and during the event, riders who don't often cross paths during the regular season are inspired by one another and progression is spurred.
This year, the tenth anniversary of Ms. Superpark, the creativity present each year was even more apparent as over one hundred women gathered in Mammoth Mountain's Main Park. Riders watched the features below them as they rode the lift, taking cues from their peers and trying new tricks and lines. The high speed quad meant laps were fast, as were the run-ins to features, and this combination allowed the women to ride hard all day long. There were so many opportunities to hit a given feature each day that comfort levels were built up quickly and destroyed even faster as women pushed themselves more with each run. Day 1 and Day 2 were furious with activity, as well as back-to-back sunset shoots. By Day 3, riders were excited, familiar with the park, and creating new lines and trannyfinders in the soft, April snow. In addition to proper front blunts, tweaked spins, and boosted airs off the hip and jumps, slashes, tail stalls, handplants and sidehits were a strong part of the Ms. Superpark 2014 vernacular. As the hours wore on Days 3 and 4, lines melted further into the snow and more and more options were presented.
Kjersti Buaas summed it up at the end of Day 3, as she worked on a unique 360 using the tire swing feature. "Day 3 at Ms. Superpark went well. It was sunny and warm out and everyone was cruising around and having a good time, bringing the playfulness and creativity that snowboarding is built on. It's fun to see everything; it's not just about jumping on the jumps, it's about finding different lines and it's inspiring me to step up my game and be more creative, too." – Kjersti Buaas
The evening of Day 3, the crew of women changed snowboard boots for lace-ups and low heels and gathered at Underground Lounge in the Mammoth village for the second annual Snowblind Date Bachelorette Auction in order to raise money for Boarding For Breast Cancer. A crowd of locals and visitors alike filled the bar as riders volunteered to be auctioned off for a ride date during Day 4. Spencer O'Brien, Sarka Pancochova, Jess Kimura, and The SNOWBOARDER Movie's Garrett Warnick and Jaeger Bailey volunteered their wallets to donate to the cause and help promote awareness for B4BC. By the end of the evening over $4,000 had been raised. At noon on Day 4, the newly formed duos met up on the deck and headed out for fun laps, a perfect way to end a stand up week. (Stay tuned for photos and more from the B4BC event.)
Thanks to everyone who came out and made the tenth Ms. Superpark one of the best yet. Thanks to Gatorade and Mammoth for their support and to TJ Dawoud and the Unbound Park Crew for creating the kind of park you don’t want to stop riding, even when the lifts close. Before we sign off from Ms. this year, Jenna Kuklinski, no longer a Ms. Superpark rookie after the past four days, once again provides her perspective on this annual lady shred gathering:
What I took away from my first-ever Ms. Superpark event.
Everyone reads the park differently.
Some girls were set on getting specific tricks on the rails or jumps precisely how they were set up in the park. Others wanted to go under those same rails or start up a periphery pond skim. Still more wanted to just go full spring-break style and drink gatorade from sippy-straw glasses and use inflatable pool-props as their jibbing instruments and accessories.
There actually were a few dudes there.
I didn’t expect to see a small handful of guys riding the park too. They had credentials, and just like I’d want to get a chance to go check out the Men’s Superpark course, I’m sure they were hyped to get to see what Ms. Superpark had to offer. Don’t worry, everyone was respectful and didn’t try to cut ladies off or get in the way of a shot on a feature. Perhaps this is how guys feel when they see girls riding park at their home mountain.
The whole world is not aware that Ms. Superpark is a thing.
I was surprised by the number of people in the area and at Mammoth itself that didn’t actually realize that there was an event going on. I felt like I was speaking an alien language when I had to explain to the mechanic that, yes, I was going to be up on the hill until lifts closed and to the old man in the gondola that, no, we weren’t fashion models there to do a photo shoot on the hill.
There are a lot of new friends to make.
Meeting people was a substantial part of Ms. Superpark and I did as much as I possibly could. I played a fun game from the lift called, "Name That Person Down There." I’d name as many people as I could that rode by underneath me and made up nicknames for the ones that I didn’t. Sometimes when I learned someone’s name after giving them a custom one it was hard to give up the nickname. Sorry Alice Gong, you’re still partially Panda Girl to me.
Ms. Superpark really is what you want it to be.
Some girls were going hard every day, some girls were just cruising with their friends in the sun, occasionally deciding to send it off a feature between laps of goofing off in the sunny slush. Without an official competition going on everyone could decide how much they wanted to either push themselves or chill out while riding throughout the day.
There still aren’t any rules to what is or is not snowboarding.
My favorite kind of riding is the kind that gets a little unconventional. It colors outside the lines and doesn’t care whether that trick that was just landed has a name or not (or ever will); it merely wants to have fun and do something no one else has thought of before. Is that really just the support for the tire bonk? Or can you jib that too? The answer is yes, you can jib anything you want to, however you want to, as long as you put your mind to it.
Getting to be a part of Ms. Superpark was amazing. I had more fun than I thought I could handle, learned I’m really good at eating it on slushy sidehits and have a decent number of new contacts I’m gonna make sure to keep in my phone. Big thanks to Gatorade and especially SNOWBOARDER Mag for making this event something that can now claim it’s successfully completed it’s tenth year. I’m hoping it sticks around for at least another twenty.