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Babes in Boots

Mamma Jamma Rail Jam jumps hurdles

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Self-described "snowboarder girl" Brittany Roper came up with the idea for an all-girls rail jam after years of competing in co-ed events. One competition in particular got her thinking about the need for a female-led contest: The first-place men's division winner walked away with a brand new snowboard while Roper, who came in second in the women's division, got a beanie and two identical T-shirts. She wasn't impressed.

"It was basically swag," she said. "Like, stuff you would throw out to the crowd."

She got sick of the arguments for why girls don't get the same attention as guys in freestyle ski and snowboard competitions: girls aren't throwing down as big of tricks, there aren't very many girls competing and they're just not as good.

"If you have these wimpy prizes for girls, what are you telling them?" she said. "It's like, OK, well I'm not going to go out there and bust myself for a beanie and a T-shirt. Whereas when there's more at stake, then maybe I'll be compelled to try harder."

So she decided to put on a rail jam with the help of a handful of sponsors including Snow Bunny Magazine, the Boardroom, Eco Lounge, Proof, Prestige Skateshop, Faction Skis, K2 and more. Except hers would be all for women. It was called Mamma Jamma.

Putting on the rail jam hasn't been easy, though. The first Mamma Jamma Rail Jam took place last March at Gateway Parks in Eagle. Originally set for the end of March, she had to move it up a week at the last minute, before the snow melted.

This year, she had a similar scramble.

"The graphic designer had just sent over the poster, so we were ready to print it off," Roper said. "The next day, I get a call from Gateway Parks and they're like, 'We're not going to make it. It's been way too warm.'"

She started scrambling again, trying to find a venue for the rail jam, which was scheduled for March 8. She talked Bogus Basin into hosting at its terrain park on Mambo Meadows. She had the whole vision laid out: giant speakers bumping good music, spectators on the yurt deck, backpacks of beer, girls skiing and snowboarding down the park rails. Roper hit another bump when Bogus Basin announced shortened spring hours the day before, closing the lifts at 4:30 p.m. Her event had been scheduled for 4 p.m.

Despite the hiccups, Mamma Jamma took place on Sunday afternoon under a brilliant blue sky and atop soft, springtime snow. The event was held in Steward's Bowl on the front side of the mountain—sans giant speakers, sans backpacks of beer and sans the large group of spectators.

Sixteen girls signed up to compete anyway, which Roper considered a success.

"That's huge for our local scene," she said. "Typically at a competition, a big turnout is when four girls show up."

The riders ranged from 27 years old, to 7-and-a-half. They paid a registration fee of $15 each and slid across platforms, canons, rails and jumps for almost an hour as three judges kept score. At the bottom, they'd hike back up again on snow practically melting beneath them.

Aubrey Davis was the youngest competitor. She started snowboarding at 3 years old, when her dad couldn't keep her off the slopes any longer.

"I was going to have her wait a little while before I had her start snowboarding, but she really wanted to go," said her father, Josh Davis. "Who am I to tell her no?"

He doesn't do much park stuff anymore, but Josh coached Aubrey on her way down the course. She tackled the jumps fearlessly, but every once in awhile, her legs didn't give her enough speed and she'd have to scoot her way over the snow mounds. At the bottom of the course, Josh would meet her and carry her snowboard up the hill.

"This is a great chance to get her alongside a bunch of other females and have some awesome role models to look up to," he said. "They embrace her and make her feel like she's one of them and that's awesome."

Dylan Sifford was pretty beat up by the end.

"You can put my middle name in there, too, if you want," she said. "It's Renee. So people know I'm a girl."

The 25-year-old helped Roper come up with the idea for an all-female rail jam and created the name Mamma Jamma. She was also sick of seeing girls treated more like "tag-alongs to the dudes."

"We wanted to change that and make a more tight community, and we definitely accomplished that," she said.

Sifford likes the vibe of the rail jam, but she struggled with her own tricks throughout.

"I got first [place] in a slopestyle last week, and at last year's Mamma Jamma, I came in second," she said. "But I ate a lot of shit today. Way more than usual."

Roper thinks it's important to have more all-girls events like this so women like Sifford are more encouraged to try harder tricks. She said it makes a big difference when females ride together, versus surrounded by men.

"Sometimes when girls see guys do tricks, they're like, 'Well, they're just better than me, I can't do that,'" Roper said. "But when you get girls who are riding together, you see them do something and you're like, 'Well maybe I can do that, too.'"

Sifford came in third, nursing her new bruises with a beer at the lodge during the awards ceremony. She was good with that.

"I ate so much shit," she said, "but I was going for it."

Next year, Roper said she's definitely going to schedule the event for January, when she knows there will be enough snow.