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