Chloe Kim was head and shoulders above the rest on her way to bagging Olympic gold back in February. Photo: Sam Mellish
Women’s snowboarding has seemed to have strapped on the afterburners in recent years. Ever since the Nine Queens in 2015, it’s like there’s been a constant stream of NBDs erupting from the female side of the sport each year. In the big air side of things not only have we arrived at a place where there are such things as women’s big air contests, the riding in them is stratospheric with 900s, 1080s, and double corks of all varieties commonplace at the highest level. In fact, the recent women’s big air finals at the Olympics was the standout moment for many – you can include our crew in that – as Anna Gasser, Jamie Anderson and Zoi Sydowski-Synott battled it out with an array of doubles and switch spins that left jaws on the floor.
Slopestyle has equally progressed – though sadly the women didn’t get the chance to shine in Korea that their riding deserved – often forming a more aesthetic counterpoint to full-on barrage of gymnastic spin-flipping that characterises much of men’s slope these days. Though it would always be nice to see more, the past couple of seasons there have been more rad street edits from women than we can remember, and while the streets and backcountry are still underrepresented when it comes to the fairer sex, the latter had a damn good ambassador this year when Robin Van Gyn was an integral part of Travis Rice‘s latest project, Depth Perception.
Which leaves us with pipe. For more than a decade, women’s pipe was dominated by the amplitude of Kelly Clark and the technical chops of Torah Bright. But the last couple of years has seen Chloe Kim establish herself as the future – or rather the now – of women’s halfpipe riding. She won an X Games gold at 15, was the first female to land back-to-back 1080s, and this year added an Olympic gold to her frankly bonkers resumé. Now she’s dropped back into NBD territory by putting down the first front 12 done by a woman at a Mammoth Mountain spring session, and claims she’ll be working them into her runs for next season.
When it comes to the full package, right now it’s hard to see how her peers can challenge her when her game’s on point – her tricks and the size she does them at are nothing short of formidable. One girl who could certainly push her, though, is fellow American Maddie Mastro. Despite falling on both of her Olympics finals runs, there was clearly talent there as she opted to open up with first hit front 10 attempts, and now she’s gone and NBD’d herself: putting down the first ever double Crippler in the pipe, and – unless we’re mistaken – only the second ever pipe double following Elena Hight’s double Heave-Ho from a few years back.
It’s seriously impressive to see. We have a feeling the women aren’t about to rest on their laurels, though, and are frothing for to more progression to come from them in the coming seasons.