Words and photos by Nikki Lorentz
Sunshine Village – AB Our industry has always been male-dominated; from gear creators, riders, photographers, park builders, and everything in between. There is a reason we are seeing a big demand for more space for women within the industry.
The intention behind the first-year event, The Build Up, was not just to combat the barriers we face as women in the industry but to celebrate why there needs to be space for more women in all spaces of the industry and to honor the strengths we bring as women to these spaces.
Taking place at Sunshine Village, the Arena Snowparks team called together 8 builders, 1 operator, and 2 photgraphers, all females, from all over Alberta and British Columbia to join them in creating something special. Not only did we build a park but we built up ourselves as individuals and as a collective community. The crew managed to create a fun, multi-ability level park with countless lines to be had within it.
Each of our design ideas came together with ease on day one. Working as a team seemed to have come naturally with the crew, despite just meeting one another, there was a mutual amount of respect and love for one another that could be felt. With our design concept locked in we fell asleep dreaming of its existence. On day two, we took advantage of a temporarily broken down cat to take some crew laps and sharpened our building skills, learning from the best. Abigail Lewis and Lucas Ouellette broke down the fundamentals of park building from learning how to use the landscape to our advantage, sharpening our raking skills, how to safely and easily place a rail, keep the park safe for riders, and gain a better understanding of the cat; the morale held high leading into day three.
Working with limited time and sun burnt faces, the crew worked together to place, shape, and build an epic park from top to bottom. Each participant was able to hop in the cat with Lucas to further their understanding on cat operation. There was dancing, laughing, and smiling all the way through.
Proud of overcoming some speed bumps along the way, we opened the park on day four, March 15th, 2023. The people of Sunshine were hyped to see a park providing more than just one or two lines, forcing creativity to come out of each rider who rolled through, and we damn well enjoyed it ourselves. Opening day also provided an opportunity for public to sign up and learn the basics of handling a rake as well as ask any questions about working on park crew. The ladies shared this time with a handful of people in maintaining the park, providing a learning opportunity for all. Ultimately promoting the growth and opportunity of future builders.
But it wasn’t just about the build, the crew became family, a place to find support, share stories, cry, and build ourselves up together. As many of us know, our mountain culture does not just happen on the slopes but also off the slopes, it is ingrained into the moments in between.
As females, it is easy to get frustrated with the constant side comments, seemingly never-ending speed bumps, and gatekeeping that we experience within the industry. It is difficult to look past the barriers sometimes, they’re complex and simple at the same time. But as a family, we decided to not get fixated on the barriers but on the benefits and solutions, we bring to the industry. Recognizing that to bring progression to this industry we so often call our home, there needs a balance of both male and female energy, within ourselves, our crews, and those we share the industry with. Honoring the fact that we do have a place here, alongside our allies.
These conversations came up organically throughout the week of The Build Up and we left knowing we have a support system in the work we want to do within ourselves and the industry. The Build Up gave us more than building skills, it gave us skills to better ourselves and the mountain culture.
I am eternally grateful to Abigail Lewis and the Arena Snowparks Crew, Lucas Ouellette and Steve Petrie for sharing and supporting this project alongside, Dinosaurs Will Die, Vans, Volcom, and Sunshine Village. I highly recommend taking a lap through Spring Hill Park at Sunshine this month to reap the rewards of the crews’ hard work and love put into the park. May not a single lap be the same.
Over and out,