Have you ever been snowboarding in deep powder when suddenly it goes flat? The only thing to do is hope that someone blazed that trail ahead of you, and ride onto their tracks. Otherwise you might end up buried, requiring all your energy just to dig yourself out.
Of course we ride onto other people’s tracks in a more figurative way every day. The ladies who pioneered the sport for us in the early nineties left a deep track for us to follow. Since it’s early days, snowboarding has been a male dominated sport, and it was women like Tina Basich, Shannon Dunn-Downing and Tara Dakides who made a presence for us. Just having women competing in the early competitions was a win for all future women snowboarders.
The pioneering women of snowboarding also left us a technical track to follow. They pushed for women’s specific gear and the first pro model snowboards were launched for Tina Basich, Shannon Dunn-Downing and Barrett Christy in the mid-90s. They left a track for more professional women snowboarders and more pro models that have led to a better riding experience for all women. When you ride your board that was engineered from tip to tail to suit a woman, remember you have a lot of people to thank for making that happen.
If you are lucky enough to be able to ride backcountry or do some heli riding, you’ll find some tracks there too. The diminutive Victoria Jealouse has left so big tracks for all of us. Jealouse made the switch over from doing big tricks in freestyle competitions to riding big lines on untouched mountains. She filmed parts with Teton Gravity Research and Standard Films and made big mountain riding a viable option for future riders like Annie Boulanger.
Of course today’s riders leave tracks too. Every Winter Olympics more women are inspired to take up snowboarding after watching amazing performances by riders like Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Torah Bright. The pro women of today are pushing the sport more and more by going bigger, getting more technical, and putting down tricks that make everyone want to step up their game.
Finally, there are also the women leaving tracks that lead forward, as they ask all riders to consider our future by looking at how we affect the environment today. Gretchen Bleiler is an active environmentalist who champions the cause with many groups including Protect Our Winters. Bleiler and others inspire riders to consider our impact today and how we can preserve the joy of snowboarding for future generations.
What are these tracks, really? I see them as paths of opportunity and inspiration. I am thankful to all these women whose perseverance and innovation have allowed me to do a sport that I love.
What women have made tracks for you? Let us know in the comments.