words: Mary Walsh
photos: Pat Wright, Gabe L’Heureux, and Mary Walsh
The Burton US Open has been an iconic week of the winter calendar for over three decades, and as the USO is one of the most cherished events in snowboarding, it is fitting that in the past few years, the Vermont-based board company has begun holding Burton Girls events to bring together riders, retailers, industry members, influencers, ambassadors and enthusiasts of all ages. Throughout this season, Burton Girls ride days have touched down in Mammoth, Colorado, Vermont, Alberta and beyond, but the US Open offers an especially awesome hallmark for the ladies who make the trek to Colorado (or call Summit County, Denver, or the surrounding areas home already). It goes without saying that the snowboarding community is dominated by a glut of XY chromosomes and that any chick worth her salt on snow is comfortable hanging around with a proliferation of dudes. It’s just the demographic patterns that come with standing sideways in inclimate weather, and that’s fully cool. But it is also what makes the women’s-only gatherings that happen every so often so much fun.
This year, the Burton Girls crew, led by leading lady and Brand Manager, Cara Williamson hosted both an evening soiree and an on hill/apres day to kick off things before finals went down in Vail. On Wednesday evening, two dozen women descended on a well-furnished condo in Ram’s Head in the village, greeted by a cheese plate that Julia Child would have approved of. Armed with glasses of Merlot, friends reunited amidst the sounds of DJ Lynx, who had travelde to Colorado from Oregon to provide apres melodies. The evening provides ample reunioning for women across the strata of snowboarding. Burton riders Kelly Clark and Hailey Langland were on hand before the semi finals. Burton Girls ambassadors Liza Tagliati, Ivy Castlegrande, Skylar Dombroski, Tavia Bonetti, and Melrose Boyer were mingling and enjoying meeting everyone, and a grip of the boss lady Burton staffers were hanging out, too. It was simple. Good food, good wine, and good company.
The party kept rolling on Thursday when a few dozen women met in the sponsor village for the official ride day. New decks were set up in the demo tent, names were exchanged, friends of friends were introduced. The sky was blue, the snow was firm, and the Golden Peak base area was buzzing with excitement. The USO edition of the Burton Girls Ride Day is a special one as so many women come together from different regions and areas of snowboarding. And, because the boarding is led by the CEO of Burton, Donna Carpenter, who knows the trails of Vail well. In the crisp March weather, Donna led the group around all afternoon, through the trees and down winding trails.
Capping off the festivities was an apres to end all apres. A short walk from the gondola into Solaris in the Vail Village was a decked-out condo: glasses of champagne greeting guests at the door, a table loaded with sushi rolls and the best guacamole prepared exclusively for the ladies by the head chef of Farnum-to-Table. But it wasn’t all the delectable snacks that made the afternoon so palpable. Nor was it the complimentary massages to ease sore muscles or the Paul Mitchell stylists on hand to reverse hat hair that made things so relaxing. These special items and treatments were incredible, and definitely appreciated by the crew of women whose normal routines on hill are far simplified comparatively. The Burton Girls apres was a huge treat for everyone who attended. But again, the thing that made the afternoon spent riding and the early evening spent chilling so enjoyable was the company. Donna Carpenter has championed placing intelligent, driven women in influential roles within the company and because of this, a long list of talented females call Burton their home. Whether they specialize in sales or marketing, content creation or digital management, the Vail Village condo was loaded with talented women who were more than excited to spend time with their peers, people who not only share their love of snowboarding, but also their commitment to being a contributing member to its industry. The above photos showcase just a few of the ladies who coalesced in Vail for a casual tete-a-tete. Opportunities like this one are quickly embraced, and not only because we all love the cheese boards as much as our snowboards.