photos: Alex Adrian
words: Mary Walsh

"Take the cat track on the right, keep speed, and I'll meet you guys where we want to drop into the woods." Jake Carpenter spoke with a friendly authority to the gaggle of two dozen women who were gathered at Vail Mountain's peak. His wife, Donna, the President of Burton Snowboards, and VP of Marketing Anne-Marie Dacyshyn were leading the group on afternoon laps before the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships finals kicked off the following day. The sun was shining and had warmed the snow into a soft, spring-like softness. It was a perfect day as shop employees, snow writers, pro riders, and in house employees pointed their boards downhill toward the backside of Vail.

Burton Snowboards has asserted their involvement in the female side of snowboarding over the past few years with the launch of the Burton Girls website, a community page that reinforces the commitment the company has been displaying for decades in the form of female-specific boards, boots, bindings, and softgoods. The site has become something of a virtual gathering place for both women in the snowboard industry as well as passionate consumers and during this season, the brains behind the successful concept have launched programing at major events to further unite the ladies within the snow community. Beginning at SIA in February, Burton hosted a Burton Girls ladies night which provided a reprieve from the harsh lights and cement floors of the Denver Convention Center in the form of a cocktail hour and introduction of many of Burton's in house employees to other women in the industry. The event was not only an opportunity to have in depth discussions about snowboarding with other women, it was also just plain fun. In an industry that is dominated by men, sometimes it's nice for the ladies to have some time to hang out.

At the US Open, the crew at Burton invited women for a ride day with Donna, Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark, and more of the Burton Girls' crew, including in house staff Category Manager of Women's Hardgoods Clarissa Finks, Women's Brand Manager Cara Williamson, Director of Global Sustainability Ali Kenney, Women's Marketing Content Coordinator Katie Wight, Partner Marketing Coordinator Whitney Heingartner, and Global PR Director Abby Young. Jake and Donna have spent time each winter at Vail since starting their company and their knowledge of the resort's terrain was welcome to the group made up mostly of tourists. Big open laps, tight woods, and fresh groomers were attacked by the ravenous riders, enjoying the last glimmers of sun before heading into the center of Vail Village for a Burton Girls après party.

Off hill, Burton created the ideal après situation. Especially as the big show at the Open was about to kick off on Friday, the relaxation was a welcome preparation for the events of the weekend. Next to the entryway in a Vail Village condo was a basket of fresh snowboard socks and slippers to warm up cold toes. A few steps further was a snack spread that included a pot of fondue and vials of champagne. Fresh beet juice was being made in the kitchen and mini cupcakes emblazoned with icing-crafted Burton process logos were sitting on a coffee table. In another room, manicures were being given and shoulder massages were available. It was all amazing, but at the risk of sounding corny, the best part wasn't even the desserts and the drinks, it was the company. While any woman that gets involved in snowboarding is surely comfortable within large groups of guys and is more than stoked on working with and becoming friends with the men that make up the snow community, it's not only fun but inspiring to get to know other women in the same field. Donna, Anne Marie, and their crew have created a space that brings together ladies of similar passion and industry and that is just plain awesome. Creating a space for women to meet one another and form new friendships within the event landscape of the winter season is definitely something special. And that's not corny at all.

Thank you to Donna, Anne Marie, Cara, and the whole crew for showing all of us ladies a great time at the Open!