Feb. 13, 2008 - Issue #643: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Stomping through the artificial barrier between men’s and women’s riding
BettygohardWho taught you to snowboard? Your boyfriend? Your brother? Chances are slim your mom did. Albeit archaic, men have always been more involved in sport than women. At the 1900 Paris Olympics where women made their first appearance at the games, only 1.6 per cent of participants were female. President Pierre de Coubertin vehemently opposed their presence, but the numbers continued to grow. At the Los Angeles games in 1980, 22 per cent of the athletes were women. In 2006, the proportion more than doubled to 48 per cent.
Outdoor adventure is finally marketing directly to women. Seven years ago, Mark Sperling created an American group called Girls Learn to Ride. He wanted to teach his girlfriend to ride, but it was so mutually frustrating that he created a series of group sport clinics. In less than a decade, GLTR has hosted over 500 camps and clinics. (Check out girlslearntoride.com for their online magazine and events.) But once again, that’s a boy doing it for us. Where are the independent girls?
Enter Bettygohard. At Panorama and Red, this women’s progressive action sports community organizes weekend retreats aimed directly at your confidence and independence. Sessions concentrate on improving skills and enhancing strengths without hot guys or mean brothers influencing you.
I spoke with 29-year-old New Zealand transplant Natasha Lockey, who created and runs the Bettygohard programs with the help of friends and volunteers.
“Six years ago whilst on a snowboarding trip to Canada I got very frustrated with the lack of inspiration out there for women participating in action sports,” Lockey says. “All the magazines have these great photos of the boys dropping cliffs, spinning tricks. Then there’s a picture of a girl holding her board with her goggles on her head. It’s obvious she’s a sponsored rider but instead of showing her ripping it up they have her standing with her gear.”
This perpetuates two messages: girls aren’t as gnarly as boys and they’re better off being cute. Lockey later learned that “the boys putting the mags together didn’t think that the girls were shredding it enough and didn’t want pics of them in action so much as them just looking pretty.”
In a recent Snowboarder Magazine’s No Man’s Land Q&A, male pro riders were asked what they thought of the current state of women’s snowboarding. While a few guys said girls should spend more time shredding and less time powdering while also wearing tighter clothes, the general consensus was that women riders are starting to step it up. The industry however, needs to show more girls hauling ass than modeling it.
So Lockey decided to create a place where experience didn’t matter and where inspiration could come from girls’ skills. “If I see a boy and he hucks it, it doesn’t always make me think I can,” she explains. “However if I’m ripping with a chick and she hucks it, I’m more likely to think I can, too. Bettygohard comes from what I like to see happening and what I wish was out there for us girls.”
Bettygohard wants to inspire more women to get into the action sports community and to participate at their level, novice to expert. So I asked Lockey how she gets girls past being afraid to try because they suck, and to a place where they understand they’ll only get better if they try?
Lockey’s greatest frustration is women thinking they’re not good enough. “Knowing from our own experiences what it is like to be a female in a male dominated community, we bring women together and introduce them to new environments, opportunities and education on the different aspects of their sports ... to move forward with a greater sense of confidence and a supportive network.”
Lockey admits that finding women like her, who do what they love without being intimidated, is difficult. Lockey is passionate, though, and believes she can push others to find what she has found in action sports. With female-oriented programs, girls can build independence from the board up. “Being with other females that are likeminded, you get inspired and gain so much more confidence.”
“These sports can improve your life—the mall, makeup, even boys are not so important ... [confidence] is way more important than the latest fashion or if someone thinks I am hotter than someone else. I cringe when I read Cosmo magazine or others like it, knowing that’s what we are teaching the next generation of girls. There is so much I could say about the independence and who you become when you step out of the superficial world.”
So ladies, now’s your time to step out. Stop thinking you’re not good enough and join Lockey at Red Mountain Resort February 22 - 24 ($650) or at Panorama March 21 - 23 (price customizable). You’ll get two nights luxury on-mountain accommodation, lift passes, mountain guiding, meals, retail discounts, yoga and photos to remember that weekend when you finally ripped yourself out of your claustrophobic box. If you bring a friend, you both get 10 per cent off. Bring more than two, and you’ll all save 15 per cent. Join bettygohard.com and see what else is available—just for you. V
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