Katie Blundell: Being a Female Pro Snowboarder in a Male dominated industry.

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Photo Credit: James North

People have often asked me how I feel about being a female in a male dominated industry…..

Well in many aspects, I actually quite like it, being surrounded my nice young men in cool snowboard gear doing awesome tricks all day, who wouldn’t like it! But I guess there are always pros and cons to any situation, so here are some of my thoughts….

I’ve always though it odd that I would enjoy being told I look like a guy. Being a girly girl, normally I would way rather be told that I have a nice dress on or that my new haircut looks nice. But in a male dominated sport of snowboarding, the minority of girls are constantly fighting to be rated as the same calibre as the men. But are we just built differently to guys???

We are always pushing to ride the same competition course as the guys, have the same prize money and contest rules.  There are many girls out there that a totally capable of doing this, but this isn’t always possible for all of us. I know for me (being quite small), sometimes I just cant get the speed to hit the bigger jumps, not mater how hard I try. Girls are just built differently i suppose. I remember one particular competition I literally had to eat my own weight in cake the night before to try to get the speed for the jumps the next day!!!

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Photo Credit: James North

Sometimes there just isn’t enough girls entering competition to warrant giving the same prize money as in the boys category. I know I have been very lucky in situations where there hasn’t been that many girls competing, and therefore I have placed higher than I should have and won (unfairly) some decent prize money. Im sure the contest organisers have cottoned onto this now and adjusted the rules and prize money accordingly

The female snowboard industry, due to its lack of numbers, is quite a close knit one. All the girls know each other and hang out together, its really nice and supportive and definitely a plus to there not being many girls in the industry. You all get to know each other well. In some respects it may be easier to get recognition as there are less of us girls, less competition so easier to get your name “out there”. But I feel in a lot of situations girls have put in so much more effort to get respect. In a technical aspect, a lot of girls have to work twice as hard as guys to master a new trick (with the exception of some amazing top girl riders who everything just seems to come naturally too!). Im not sure how they do it, but boys seem to just get tricks first try. I could spend a whole season trying to learn a trick that a guy could master in a day. So frustrating, the effort is there, just maybe not the actual skill!! I can batter myself black and blue in the process!!

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Photo Credit: James North

Don’t forget girls also have to deal with all this “additional” stuff that guys seem to escape……hormones and emotions!!! It can be like being on a roller coster sometimes. One moment Snowboarding is going well. Im feeling good, feeling confident. Then boom, out of the blue, I have lost it all, its the end of the world, self doubt and self loathing creep in. I start wondering if I should maybe have chosen a career in stamp collecting after all??? Sometimes I’m grateful to those big goggles so I can have a little cry without people noticing!!! Boys don’t seem to have to deal with this stuff?? Im sure this isn’t the same for all girls obviously, there are some tough chicks out there!

But snowboarding is an ideal sport for us girls that wake up in the morning and just cant be bothered to make an effort to look feminine that day. Brilliant for “fat” days wearing all that baggy clothing. Excellent for when you not fussed to do hair and make-up (lets face it, most of us cant be bothered but kinda feel we have to in everyday life). Snowboard goggles and hats can sort that out!

So to round up, girls are working so hard to close to the gap between male and female snowboarding. Maybe this is why female snowboarding is accelerating so much and so quickly at the moment. There are so many amazing girl snowboarders out there that are really leading the way for the future of female snowboarding. Christy Prior, Anna Gasser, Jenny Jones to name but a few.

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Photo Credit: James North

Each year there are more and more girl specific events now to help this progression and celebrate female snowboarding. Like Miss Super Park for instance. These are a really show case for the girls talents. I think the thing to do is try to get more girls into snowboarding and provide events that nurture and support the female snowboard industry. Personally. I am proud to be girl and proud that I am involved in a gnarly sport such as snowboarding. But mainly, I try not to think about all this stuff too much and just enjoy snowboarding for what it is and concentrate on having fun. After all, thats what its all about!

Katie Blundell

Web: katieblundell.com // Insta: @katieblundell // Twitter: @katieblundell11

Sponsors: O’Neill, Ride Snowboards, Rocket Dog, Celtek, Bern Helmets, Dalikfodda, Skullcandy, Tignes Spirit, Butta, Contour

James North

Web: jnorth.co.uk // Insta: @jamesnorthstar // Twitter: @jamesnorthphoto

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