Duthie Hill mountain biking competition sweetened with all women riders
July 10, 2012
By Brittany Cardoza
Women from across the United States and Canada flocked to Duthie Hill Park to prove that women belong in mountain biking.
The Sugar Showdown on July 8 was the first women’s freeride competition in the state of Washington. The sold-out event featured 20 professional female bikers and 45 amateurs.
The two-day event was about “building sisterhood in freeride,” said Kat Sweet, founder of Sweetlines, a women’s-specific training program.
The event was a way for women to improve their skills, compete and bond with other female freeriders.
Freeriding is a style of mountain biking that focuses on riders doing tricks and using trail features to show off creativity, style and speed.
The first day of the Sugar Showdown consisted of a clinic taught by the pros. It focused on providing inspiration to women mountain bikers through building confidence to try new things and improve their skills.
“We came down here to be coached by Kat Sweet and her amazing crew,” said Leigh Sifton, of Victoria, B.C. “It’s a lot of fun to learn in such a positive environment.”
Day two consisted of two competitions. Pros competed on the course VooDoo Child and amateurs competed on Semper Dirticus. Winners of the competitions won cash and riding accessories.
“The main idea is to have female riders come together to help each other get better at freeriding,” said Hailey Starr, of Olympia. “The best part is seeing yourself progress and grow.”
In this male-dominated sport, women are finding their place.
“This event helps promote women in the sport and we are finally starting to get more notice,” Sifton said.
Seattle native Jill Kintner, a three-time world champion in mountain biking and an Olympic medalist in BMX, was one of the pros helping with the event. Though she recently broke an arm in a competition and wasn’t able to ride, she helped give instruction, contributed to the team of professionals and supported the other women.
“There is a big market for women in biking. Women are hungry to learn,” Kintner said. “It is an empowering sport and great exercise.”
One of the main themes of the event was the “if-she-can-do-it, I-can-do-it” attitude.
“If you see a girl do a trick first, we are more likely to try ourselves,” Sweet said.
That was especially true for a mother and daughter from Canada.
Little did Pat Clark know that receiving a trip to the Sugar Showdown from her daughter Keara would lead to her conquering tricks that the 50-year-old had never done before.
“Trying freeride was just another mother-daughter experience to share while we still can,” Pat Clark said.
After giving in to her newly boosted confidence, and attitude, she took the plunge and rode off of a 5-foot drop.
“I was ecstatic I did it,” Pat Clark said. “I have done it probably 15 times since.”
She attributed her bravery to the “even playing field” and supportive environment the Sugar Showdown provided.
“The confidence you build to conquer something like that is huge,” she said. “At the end of the day your face hurts from smiling and laughing so much.”