Where: Serfaus, Austria
Chilled jam session under bluebird skies wraps up the Euro Nikita Chickita in Serfaus
For the last 4 years, the Nikita Chickita Europe has been drawing rookie girls from across the continent to Serfaus for a relaxed contest that's all about good vibes and throwing down with friends new and old as the season winds down. And this year was no different. The winners of the NC Scandinavia and NC Swiss Tour were both rewarded with golden tickets to Serfaus, and were joined by a cross-section of other chickitas who were looking forward to the mellow, easy-style vibe of the event. In the words of Nikita's Geiri, "It is what it is. We put on the event and let it develop on its own, rather than having it super structured. You know that the best nights out are the ones you don't over plan, and it's the same with the Nikita Chickita. We shape a nice park and let the girls just ride and have fun."
Despite a morning that threatened bad weather, the clouds parted, the sun blazed and the 16 girls took to the softening park for a 2-hour jam session. They had to call whether they'd take the kicker or rail lines before the dropped and, other than that, all they had to do was ride and enjoy - no bibs, no mandatory straight airs or over-eager personal trainers fist pumping, this was a 'contest' with no hard and fast rules to mess with the part of snowboarding that's why we all do it - to give yourself a big o' Cheshire cat grin - and the girls were lapping it up.
As soon as the park softened up as the sun started beating down, the kicker line saw some frontside 3s, backside 5s and even backside rodeos being put down while when it came time to get the jib on it was the tyre bonk, pole jam and wallride that was seeing most of the action. Some of the girls pushed themselves a bit too hard and there were some wince-inducing slams, but Nikita had the foresight to have a physio on site to give massages and, like in F1, a quick pit stop and they were back for more. Even though the session was supposed to be 2 hours, the riders were having so much fun that they convinced the judges to extend it to take advantage of the super fun set up.
Head judge Julia Baumgartner was impressed: "I was super stoked about the riding," she beamed. "The girls did amazing tricks, they hit all the obstacles, they were not afraid to ride the big kickers and the special thing for me was they really pushed themselves in the Jam Session. You really saw that they were having fun and wanted to show the judges something and even after 2 hours they were even asking if they could ride more. And the atmosphere seemed to be really nice too, I am really stoked. For me it was the best jam session ever!"
With the contest wrapped it was time for some chilling and grilling, and a bit more after-ski, before everyone headed to the Patschi bar for prize giving. No sooner had we managed to clear the last dregs of after-ski casualties from the floor, Nikita's Pia Kaipainen took the mic and after some 'drum roll please' the winners were announced. Elena Könz had ridden hard all day and deservedly took first place, 1000 bucks and a bag full of swag, with another Swiss miss - Isabel Derungs - coming in second and Sweden's Malin Johansson in third. Isabel also took the Best Trick award for her stomped backside rodeo and local girl Mary Luggen was awarded with the Best Jib Line. And then, in the finest of traditions, party was made.
Thanks, Nikita, for a grounded, unpretentious end of season fun fest.
1 - Elena Könz
2 - Isabel Derungs
3 - Malin Johansson
Best Trick: Isabel Derungs (backside rodeo)
Best jib line: Mary Luggen