It isn’t your Mama’s moun­tain bik­ing camp, but you should sign her up any­way.

Mountain Bike for Her - - Front Page - Words & Pho­tos By Ash Kelly

The sev­enth Sugar Show­down -- an allfe­male freeride and slopestyle moun­tain bike event -- took place on July 5 and 6 in Is­saquah, Wash­ing­ton with over 45 reg­is­tered fe­male shred­ders. Like pre­vi­ous Show­downs, the first day of coach­ing was fol­lowed by a freestyle com­pe­ti­tion on Sun­day.

Be­sides the ob­vi­ous fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing fe­males in the sport of freeride, there was no clear de­mo­graphic which de­fined the group. Rid­ers ranged in age from 6 to 53. They came from as far as Prince Ge­orge, Bri­tish Columbia and Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. They came alone, in pairs, and as fam­i­lies. This year the Sweet Peas (6 to 9-year-olds) and Sugar Cubes (10 to 14-year-olds) sat with Kat Sweet to watch the pro com­pe­ti­tion. “Hear­ing them cheer at the top of their lungs, es­pe­cially when 13-year-old Kaytlin Melvin sent the 20’ Rooster Booster into the five-foot drop bridge, that’s when I re­al­ized the im­pact of what we are do­ing for women in our sport,” said Sweet.

In all as­pects of its op­er­a­tion, the Show­down em­braces pro­gres­sion as its driv­ing force. Par­tic­i­pants from pre­vi­ous years - like Lisa Ma­son of the Women’s Freeride Move­ment - have be­come coaches while other coaches have moved on to help run the event and com­pe­ti­tion like coach and event em­cee Angie We­ston.

“The coaches work­ing with me are amaz­ing women, pro­fes­sion­ally trained and cer­ti­fied coaches, and su­per into jump­ing bikes. I have a base crew of women work­ing with me then I bring in dif­fer­ent guest coaches at each event. I also have as­sis­tant coaches, some are cer­ti­fied or in­ter­ested in get­ting trained,” said Sweet.

For re­turn­ing rid­ers, the unan­i­mous con­sen­sus was that the qual­ity of coach­ing brought them back to Duthie Hill. Tyler Grif­fen’s mom, Tr­ish, said the big­gest thing the Sugar Show­down had given her was con­fi­dence.

“I trust that they won’t let me progress to some­thing that I’m not ready for,” said Grif­fen. “My goal for to­day is to have a lit­tle more style.”

The ad­vanced group, coached by Stephanie Ny­chka and Lisa Tharp, spent their af­ter­noon ses­sion on “Sem­per Dir­ti­cus,” a trail that starts with a pair of in­ter­me­di­ate jumps fol­lowed by a large step-down with a case pad, a seven-foot-drop, a se­ries of gap jumps, and a large wall-ride. Ses­sion­ing the fea­tures one by one, they worked as a team to pin­point ex­actly what was re­quired to suc­ceed and look good do­ing it. By the end of the day, the en­tire group was hit­ting most of the line and was well pre­pared for Sun­day’s com­pe­ti­tion. Some of the ad­vanced rid­ers - like Van­cou­ver’s Lalena De­sau­tels - moved into the pro cat­e­gory for Sun­day.

At the Sugar Show­down, learn­ing and pro­gress­ing are guar­an­teed out­comes for par­tic­i­pants that come with an open mind and a will­ing­ness to push their bound­aries. The spon­sors, the ded­i­cated coaches, the gen­er­ous vol­un­teers, and the tried and tested struc­tured pro­gres­sion are all a part of what makes the Show­down a suc­cess again and again. But it’s the ladies, the rid­ers, who make it a unique event where the growth of women’s freeride is fos­tered year af­ter year.

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