Jessica Kimura Ms. Superpark
Last spring the top women riders invaded June Mountain for SNOWBOARDER’S 5th Annual Ms. Superpark. The event gave the women an opportunity to push themselves to the limit sessioning a park designed by June’s skilled and forward-thinking terrain park crew. Here the ladies reveal their insights on what personal snowboard progression means to them.
“When I’m out riding, there are certain things I need to do in order to feel comfortable on my board. When I’m comfortable, I’m confident, and I think that is the most important thing when you are trying to progress. I start off on some smaller features just to get my feet under me, and after I feel solid on those I’ll start to step up to the larger features and add rotations. If I am learning a new trick, I start with something similar that I’m familiar with and then work from there. Like in learning a switch 540, I’ll practice a switch 180 to get the initial rotation and a front 360 to get the landing. Then all I have to do is combine the two. Once I get the first try outta the way (and I’m in one piece) it’s all about practicing it over and over. Soon it isn’t so awkward and it will come naturally.”
“Progression is a natural phenomenon that has to be cultivated organically. When it starts happening, there is an energy and a stoke that could never be forced and everyone feels! Ms. Superpark offers a forum for this to naturally happen and it always does, each day. The sessioning starts, people try things you never thought of, which then in turn sparks ideas in you, and there it is—something new is born and attempted. This year I saw the pill feature and visualized a handplant instantly. The horizontal pill wasn’t quite working for me, so I grabbed Jeremy and we found a vertical pill, set it up my way, and there it was! I pushed myself and got a handplant six feet above the lip of the quarterpipe. I was stoked, and that is how you “naturally” force progression (haha)—make everything right for you so you have no excuses but to succeed!”
“Ms. Superpark is especially good for progression because if I see somebody do a sick spin over a big jump or boosting off a hip, I get so stoked and I want to make my tricks look better, or go bigger, or be more creative. I get so caught up in it that at the time, I’m not even aware that it’s progression happening right in front of me. It just seems like everyone is pushing each other and laughing and having a good time.”
“At Ms. Superpark, people get so nervous and psych themselves out that they don’t even hit some of the stuff. What I do mentally to overcome this fear is to simply tell myself that it’s going to be fine and to stop being such a little baby about it, because it’s only a giant mound of snow. After you hit everything once, it seems to me that the initial fear goes away. From that point on, it’s all fun and laughs and positive progression. Ms. Superpark is one of my favorite events to go to every year because all my friends go and everyone is always super-stoked on everyone else’s progression personally, and for the sport’s as well.”
“To me, progression means doing something that I thought maybe wasn’t possible. There are many ways daily that I work on progression in snowboarding, mostly off the mountain. Getting your body in shape is a major priority, but more crucial is getting your mind in the right state. I meditate daily, and I think mostly of snowboarding and what tricks I want to do and visualize them. Once I start, it’s easy to let my mind wander because it’s fun, and then I am able to take it to the mountain and the tricks don’t intimidate me as much.”
“100% of progression is mental; it’s all about one’s creativity and desire to exceed their personal best. There are definitely times where we’ll be scared and crashes that will hurt, but in the end we’ll conquer our aspirations with hard work, never giving up. Taking our perfected skills, tweaking, and pushing them on new terrain will ultimately produce new tricks in the most graceful way possible. I like to visualize doing a new trick right before I drop in, then just give ’er and see what happens.”
“Progression has always been a really natural thing for me. It’s something I’ve never been able to force; I find when I bang my head against the wall with a trick I don’t get anywhere, and it usually means I need to step back and take a different approach. I’ve had those moments of endless attempts where I continually make the same mistake, and then one day it just clicks and I’ve got it. There isn’t much in between for me, which can be nice at times and really frustrating at others. I think progression and the way you approach it is different for everyone, and there isn’t any set way to do it or to learn something new. The one thing I do know is that you have to be committed both mentally and physically, or it isn’t going to happen.”
“What inspires me to rise above is the environment and riding with girls and guys who push themselves on the obstacles in front of us. The more creative the feature, the more ideas I get on the different ways I can hit it. Progression to me involves approaching something in a way that someone else might not have thought of or seen. For example, the crane ball feature—I built my own lip for that to make it work for me. Of course pushing tricks is progression, but pushing style and approach is what’s more appealing and fun to me. When you’re feeling it, everything else physically and mentally falls into place. I personally have to feel it and know that’s what I’m going to conquer for that day in order to make it happen—it’s just my nature. And, of course, you have to stay in shape to take the slams when they come.”
This content was originally published in the November 2009 issue.