words and photos: Mary Walsh

My feet squished in the small puddles of water that had collected in my boots as I stood inside the top floor of the Woodward Tahoe Bunker at Boreal, watching the rain dump buckets out the windows and giving my camera a few minutes to dry as I wiped it off with my last dry lens cloth. I had run inside in order to give my camera (and myself) a quick reprieve from the downpour and warm my fingers. The rain showed no sign of stopping. I shook off my hat, zipped up my jacket, and headed back outside, where a few dozen women were still hiking in the set up of the first-ever "IT'S TITS!", brought to life by Snowboy Productions and Jess Kimura. Some were wearing ponchos and trash bags, wiping raindrops from their goggles, and as they dropped and popped over a set of snow berms, they showed no sign of stopping.

It was a few years prior when BC-based Jess Kimura and Snowboy founder, Krush Kulesza had begun talking about a women-only transition event designed to bring together the most talented turners and up and comers boasting ovaries and higher levels of estrogen. "We wanted to make an event similar to the Holy Bowly that was focused on inviting a bunch of rad chicks in an environment that they would be comfortable pushing the limits of style and progression in," explains Jess. The pair are both leaders in their own right, Krush as the Seattle-based catalyst of a litany of snowboarding's favorite events, from Bowly to Downtown Throwdown to The Project series, among others, and Kimura, a snowboarder whose unshakable ability to propel herself forward, both when strapped in as well as when off her board, has defined a career of blazing her own path in an often-challenging industry. A year ago, she launched The Uninvited, a movie project created to offer a video opportunity to women in the name of inclusivity. She gathered a crew of stand outs, including Maria Thomsen, Darrah Reid-Mclean, Taylor Elliot, and Alexa McCarty, met new additions along the way, like Kennedi Deck, and encouraged other female riders to submit their footage. "A video part could be sitting on a hard drive," she said in her greeting at Boreal.

And it was from the pair's shared outlook on contributing to their scene that "IT'S TITS!" was born, a new gathering of creativity and flow for women that would also raise donations for Boarding for Breast Cancer. Barrett Christy and Megan Pischke signed on. Krush and Blake Geis collaborated with Mizl and the Woodward Tahoe crew to fill the park with boobs, berms, and a double-hipped bowl. In the middle of the course, a breast cancer awareness ribbon was shaped, rideable on all sides.

On Thursday, April 5, 2018, cars from Utah, Minnesota, Alberta, and beyond lined up in the Boreal parking lot. Krush and Kimura had issued the call and over sixty women had converged on the North Lake Tahoe resort for three days of riding. Jackie Lammert, Nirvana Ortanez, Stefi Luxton, Desiree Melancon, Jill Perkins, Madison Blackley, Melissa Riitano, Christine Savage, Fancy Rutherford, Kayli Hendricks, Summer Fenton, Taylor Elliot, Alexa McCarty, Lily Calabrese, Maria Thomsen, Kennedi Deck, Elena Hight, Nora Beck, Naima Antolin, and many others. "I feel women’s snowboarding is in it’s best place ever right now and there was a generation of girls coming up without an event to bring the community together,” says Krush. “All these riders knew each other from Instagram feeds, but for a lot of them this was the first time they got to actually meet each other and ride together." This event was a long time coming. The diggers had been shoveling for days. Krush and Jess addressed the crowd, the sun peeked out from behind a cloud, and the crew dropped in.

The women wasted no time finding lines and picking apart the set up. Fickle spring weather was on the horizon and Friday was looking like rain. Photographers Gill Montgomery and Ashley Rosemeyer had come out from Utah and Vermont, respectively. Tim Zimmerman was in town from Washington. Boreal's Jake Pollock was shooting, too. Cameras were pointed in all directions as riders filled the area like popcorn kernels, erupting over bumps and out of the bowl. Stoke was high. And there were two days left to go (the final day open to the public, too).

On Friday, the typical Tahoe springtime sun was replaced by pouring rain. Usually, heavy, unfrozen precipitation is call for a day spent indoors, waiting for the weather to clear. But not at "IT'S TITS!", where there was a few hundred square feet of transition to ride. For the assembled riders, there was a palpable excitement, as well as appreciation and eager energy. Everyone recognized the rareness of this event; this many female snowboarders together in one place is not only a rare thing, but practically non-existent. "IT'S TITS!" was a moment to meet up, take runs, get shots, and have fun in a setting unlike most any others during the calendar year. So when the sky opened up, few were deterred. The park was packed by noon. Plastic ponchos and makeshift Hefty bags kept people moderately dry--for a little while. The snow was soft, perfect for slashing. The upper section of the course, groups of boob-shaped snow of varying sizes, was sessioned into the afternoon. At one point, everyone assembled in a train and weaved and bobbed through the features, a nod to the B4BC tribute run that acknowledges those that cannot be there that day. It wasn't until the group was completely soaked that they even considered going inside.

On Saturday, Mother Nature relented and while the clouds went in and out, the air was dry and the snow fast. The ladies swarmed to the top of the set up for the final day and made quick work finding new lines, sessioning the hips, and slashing the bowl. Stoke was even higher, even though legs were tired. The session continued until 4pm, as cars of far-off friends slowly headed home and those with shorter journeys stayed to cheers in the Boreal Bar. The three-days were cause for celebration as a wave of content exhaustion washed over the collective crew.

While, of course, "IT'S TITS!", at its most basic, is a celebration of snowboarding itself, of a style of riding filled with finesse and the ability to carve fluidly through a creative course, it is also an important nod to the women's snowboarding community. "Even though female participation in snowboarding has never been higher, direct industry support and events don’t always reflect that," says Jess. "It’s important to me that these girls feel like there is a place for them in this industry and that they feel welcome to participate in these kind of events." And it was apparent "IT'S TITS!" provided something that had been missing for the riders in attendance. Not only was it a chance for these individuals to come together, many meeting for the first time, but the event made it clear that there had been an underlying, collective aspiration for such an experience. "IT'S TITS!" provided an outlet that was really needed and the appreciation and stoke both hung heavy in the air as the crew rode until the very end. Women cheersed in the Boreal Bar, cars of friends departed for the drive home, and photos began to pop up, shared in txt and on Instagram. "The response from the community has been amazing," added Krush "And we have big plans for “IT’S TITS TOO!” in 2018.

Huge thanks to Snowboy, Boreal, Woodward Tahoe, and all of the sponsors who contributed to making this event happen: B4BC, Gnu Snowboards, Monster Energy, Diecutstickers.com, and 10Barrel Brewing. Thank you so much to Barrett and Meg, Curtis at B4BC, Blake at Snowboy, Missy, Tucker, Matt, Mizl and crew at Boreal, and of course, Krush and Jess!

For more, check out #ITS_TITS! on Instagram.