The Billabong Flaunt on 16th Feb was my favourite event of the year so far. Maybe I'm biased, but seeing the girls hitting our park was awesome - not to mention the event staff who came to work with us. Although the girls are pretty damn serious about the tricks they pull off, it was ace to see so many chicks having a great time and just enjoying hanging out in TELUS park.
There were 33 competitors at the Big White leg of the tour which was the third in 5 heats before the final at Sierra-at-Tahoe. Big White's own Stephanie Haines took the top spot in the Rail Jam, whilst Jenna Blasman from Ontario made her mark on the judges and won both the Slopestyle and the Dakine Best Trick.
I recognised a familiar face from the UK, as Becky Menday from SNO!zone Castleford was over to compete. Back in the UK, Becky has made quite the name for herself on the freestyle circuit so it was awesome to see her throwing down with the best of them in North America.
There were a few whiny boys whinging about not being able to hit the features we were playing on but that's the best thing about Flaunt It. It's giving female riders a chance to stamp out their own tricks and claim the park themselves. It's not a specific ploy to exclude boys, it's just a way for female riders to bond, improve and realise their potential within the sport in the environment they will compete in, in the future.
Eve Northmore from the Women’s Snowboarding Federation said
"We at the Women's Snowboard Federation have definitely noticed the need for female specific programming and camps grow over the years. With girls of all ages getting into the sport and raising the bar it is important to be able to offer events and coaching programs that encourages them in a way that coed programming does not. Also providing a crew to shred with, role models to look up to as we'll as goals to work towards with friends from season to season. The more on the hill supporting the industry and growing the sport the better."
It's also tremendous to see so much support behind female riding - this event had more sponsors than you can cover a snowboard with! Nixon were there providing free hot chocolate and blasting their new portable music system, and the goody bags on offer were insanely good! Free swag aside, having such promotion behind the girls just shows how much the recognition the sport is getting. Female riders are becoming less and less rare, and the standard is becoming waaaaay beyond that of previous years. It's an exciting time to see these riders now, in the run up to Sochi 2014. Now that Slopestyle has been officially recognized as an event for the Winter Olympics, we could be watching the first generation of riders gearing up to make history in less than two years time.