Ride like a girl

It is a wonderful time to be a woman shredder.

by Trish Drinkle

A photo of Stephanie Schwartz
Photo courtesy Stephanie Schwartz Shred inspiration Stephanie Schwartz works hard to reach out to riders, helping them gain confidence and skill.

Yup, I ride like a girl. I could have said woman, or lady, but I used the word girl to prove a point. 

It's so funny, the reaction from some who hear that. They literally yell at me, insisting that I ride like a man—meaning I’m a good, solid rider. While they mean it as a compliment, I’d rather be a girl rider who inspires other women.

I don’t think I’m a freak of nature who was born to shred like a man. I believe, however, I was blessed to be mentored by very patient and kind people who believed in me. Unique? No. Blessed, yes. 

Some believe riding like a girl means being weak and unskilled. Others get that being female doesn’t neccesarily equal weak. They say thank you for opening up the door and welcoming us in. Thank you for being friendly and for being approachable. Thank you for setting an example for our daughters who ride.

Tamara Osborne, founder of the Betties Powersports Network, said a positive reaction to “ride like a girl” was heartfelt by many who came to the Betties Booth at the recent Edmonton Snowmobile and Powersports show. According to Osborne, numbers for the Betties club have soared, mainly because these women feel welcome and respected for their involvement within the sport.

“Everyone starts from the beginning," said Osborne, "and we are proud to start many new women riders in a safe and nurturing environment.” 

Women need to feel a sisterhood kindred of trust, knowing the people around them want them to succeed. That they are in no way a burden. 

Sled inspiration Stephanie Schwartz has a far-reaching impact in the world of woman riders. Spreading her skill and positive, upbeat attitude across the sea, Schwartz will be mentoring new riders at an international free ride camp in Sweden this upcoming season.

“Don't be intimidated," she said. "There are going to be challenges. . . embrace those challenges. This is about fun and friends and relationships and shredding the powder. There are real, helpful, encouraging women out there waiting to help. It's patience and time on that sled.”

If I am hucking a cornice, weaving a wicked line through the trees or climbing a chute, do I suddenly change gender?

l am a girl, therefore I ride like one. You could say I ride like a mom. I ride like a wife. It’s what I am, so therefore what I do. Boy or girl, man or woman, we simply ride and enjoy every minute of it.

Thank you to industry and manufacturers for embracing women riders. A sled chassis today is lighter and more agile. Clothing and gear companies are taking note of what women riders need for technical backcountry riding. They understand that simply making something pink isn’t enough to satisfy our needs. 

Thank you to all of the women who are now believing they can ride, and ride well. There are so many women in positions of power within the industry, and we now have our own place within our sport.  We no longer have to be one of the guys. We can be women within the world of snowmobiling. 

Here's to the 2013-14 year of riding, Sled Chicas. It is a wonderful time to be a woman shredder.

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