Photo: Katie Panzer
Brighton resort was the place to be Feb. 20 where the Nikita Chickita all-girls snowboard competition, sponsored by Skullcandy, ShredBetties and Nikita (of course), took place at the lower Majestic terrain park. With over 40 riders competing for a $2000 total prize purse for the Pros and a 1-year Nikita flow-sponsorship contract up for grabs for the Ams. These riders were stoked and ready to show some of the best female snowboarding around today. This year marks the first time this comp was held at Brighton after a three-day Nikita photo shoot excited those in charge enough to move the venue from Mammoth Mountain. As always, the kick-ass builders at KAB rails and the kick-ass Brighton park crew brought their best for this year’s contest. The course started off with a jib section consisting of a handrail and a down-flat rail, leading to a flat box and a flat box with a lip at the end and finishing with a long butter box. After the jib section were two kickers and the course ended with a few wall rides, and a large Gatorade barrel jib.
This year’s Nikita Chickita was a two-run-and-done format for the qualifiers, with the Pro and Am divisions taking runs together. The judges chose ten Pros and ten Ams to move on to the finals, where each rider was given two runs to send it all the way for their shot at the money and a product sponsorship. There was also a switch-up in the judging format for this year, where the rider who takes first place in the Am division is also eligible to be judged as a Pro for a shot at some serious cash. Nikita decided not to separate the two divisions, hoping to foster an atmosphere of camaraderie among all of the riders and it worked. Up at the drop-in zone, each time a girl dropped, one could hear over 20 other riders cheering her on.
Nikita rider Gabby Maiden started things off with a textbook frontside boardslide on the first handrail and Paige Ranier gave a good show on the flat box with a nose-tap to boardslide to tail-tap. Riders Karra Reiney, Lynn Neil and Jessica Jensen all completed multiple 540’s in the final rounds. Ariel Friedman had one of the best Am runs with a risky backside 50-50 on the handrail, a super pressed nose press on the flat box and landing bolts on her 360 on the first kicker. For the Am division, Ranae Palma won herself some gear in the third place spot. For the first time in my life, I saw a girl attempt a backside lipslide. That girl was Midori Oatari, straight out of Japan, and even though she didn’t land the back-lip, her frontside boardslide 270-out along with some super good looking airs earned her the second place spot on the podium. Finally, it was Jessica Jensen with her big spins and handsome jibbing who won the first place spot and the 1-year sponsorship contract for Nikita.
For the Pro division, Colleen Quigley earned herself $300 cash plus Nikita gear and the third place trophy for this year’s contest. Lynn Neill, after stomping a 540 melon and a 180 on/off of the flat box, was given the second place spot on the podium, plus $700 and some sweet gear. Her mom showed up to show her support and couldn’t be more proud. Every once in a while in competitive sports, an upset occurs, when the favored competitor is beaten by the underdog. That is precisely what happened this year, as Am rider Jessica Jensen took first not only for the Am division, but for the Pro division as well. Congrats Jessica for showing the pros what’s up and coming home with a sponsorship, a snowboard and a big $1000.