Growing up as a snowboard grom, we learned to always 'thank the park staff!' as we jibbed and jumped on the playground they built for us. How often were we thanking a woman? Maybe once or twice? It is because of events like Take The Rake at Trollhaugen, we find ourselves seeing and thanking more women who have joined park staffs all over the world. Take The Rake brings together women who are involved in all aspects of creating and maintaining some of the best parks we get to ride. It gives them a chance to learn new skills, collaborate, and simply get together to build an awesome set up. We reached out to some of the key members involved to bring awareness and hype up this event. Laura Rogoski interviewed some of Take The Rake first timers to get the perspective of the newer ladies in the industry.
Laura: I started digging to ride at High Cascade in 2007 and the following year was hired as the first female digger in YEARS. Technically I haven’t ever worked park crew for a resort… I went from digging at HCSC to filming video parts, building DIY parks, helping with the occasional Snowboy event, to building with Snowboy full time.
The summer of 2021 Marsha Hovey called me with an idea - Take The Rake. We brainstormed, and then I waited eagerly for more information while she worked magic.
Less than a month later, for the first time ever, a park was built entirely by females for every human to enjoy.
The second year of Take The Rake proved to be even more special than the first clinic. The LEGEND, Jess Rictielli, held a welding clinic. We devoted more time and energy into teaching and learning, built a progression line on Valgrind, and created a set to remember on Valhalla.
Ava Peterson, Sophie Bille , and Nikki Lorentz all attended Take The Rake for their first time. It was also the first time any of us met each other. I face timed them each individually to pick their brains. Our industry is changing, it is becoming more inclusive. These are names to remember, they are the future.
Ava has accomplished a lot in the 19 years she’s been alive and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us. She’s got a mean front board, is eager to learn new skills, and is not afraid to speak hard truths.
Where and when did you get into digging?
My first time on park crew was last year at Cannonsburg- I was a digger for one season then I got asked to be park crew manager. I wouldn’t have gotten into it without my friend Gibby.
Were you ever harassed / hazed? I know I was..
Not necessarily.. I work with a lot of old dudes and they’re surprised that I like to get my hands dirty. They all respect me a lot which is super cool. At Cannonsburg guys are scared to talk to me because I am the only girl on the hill. I never really hear any backlash - thank god. I hear it snowboarding, but not at my job.
Being a girl people think you got that position because you are a girl. It’s like no, maybe it’s because I worked my butt off, or because I'm good at talking to people and I love everybody.
Are there other girls on park crew in your area?
Not really, My friend Hannah rides at Cannonsburg and I hired another girl on park crew. It’s insane going to other places because there are always more girls outside my home park. That’s why it was insane at Take the Rake, like there are so many women here it's amazing.
What was your experience like at Take The Rake?
I had no idea what to expect… I knew I would be working with a bunch of females which is something I haven’t done before. I was a little intimidated at first working with other ladies but by the end of the week all the crew understood where I was coming from, good or bad. I felt like it was okay to talk about how I feel, which I can’t do around guys because I might get judged. It was really cool to actually feel heard.
I think my favorite part about TTR was meeting a bunch of new amazing people, and I feel beyond grateful and lucky with the opportunities I now have because of them. The 7 days I spent with everyone opened up a new path in my life for me and I feel so fortunate to know what I love and know the path I want to go down at a young age. I have a lot of ambition and it feels good that I know I want to put it towards snowboarding, the industry, and people within it.
What do you want to see more of from resorts?
Really be involved with the community. Every hill has its own community and regular riders which is important. I'm stoked to be on park crew and be in a leadership position so I can help take a step forward to make sure everyone feels involved. Social media is a big one, it’s so obvious that Marsha just kills it with social media at Troll. I think that’s a huge reason why they’re so successful.
Trollhaugen is not much bigger than my hill. It makes me see the potential a small hill has because of the community.
What did you think of the Mental Meetup?
I found that during the mental meetup, the ladies and I shared a lot of similar problems. Hearing the things that were discussed out loud was super relieving and really made me feel like I wasn’t alone within my personal complications. This is definitely something I needed, and would love to do again. Something about the group discussion with people I have just about everything in common with was really reassuring. Thank you Laura for making everyone feel heard within this community <3
Biggest take away/highlights :
I acquired a sense of empowerment that I never knew I needed. I don’t really think about me being a woman in the industry and how different it is. Take The Rake made me realize that what I am doing is changing things in the industry. It was amazing to build a park completely with other women.. I felt good, I felt like I was heard, everyone was so understanding. It wasn’t some big stressful bundle of emotions
Take the rake was definitely a life changing experience for me… 100%. I needed that… the encouragement and empowerment to remind myself that what I am doing is the path for me. I always looked at snowboarding as something that I liked to do, but now I think I could stay in the industry and make a career out of it.
At the end of the Take The Rake Ava shared a collection of questions she and her friend Hannah wrote regarding being a female in a male dominated sport. These questions were something we could all relate to. Things we think about but rarely voice out loud.
"Do guys I consider my homies actually like me or do they just think I'm hot?”
"Am I the only one who is more judgmental than normal when I watch another woman's riding or style?”
"Are all the guys annoyed that I'm taking up their time battling a clip that they could land first try?"
Sophie Bille hails from Sunday River in Maine. She’s a really well rounded rider- if she’s not already on your radar she should be. Sophies got a big heart and is in it for all the right reasons…
This is my second year at park crew at Sunday River in Maine. I’m originally from New York, if that matters haha.
I was an instructor before park crew, I saw that I could work and ride. I had a bunch of friends on park crew but they were all guys. I was curious why there weren’t any girls on the crew, but there weren’t any girls even riding the park there.
When I got the opportunity to move to Maine and decided right away I was going to apply to work parks (at Sunday River).
How has your experience been? Do you feel like you're hazed or treated differently?
I was nervous about that at first, going into a group of people I didn’t know. When I met them on the first day they were all so nice. They were talking about how to progress your riding. My boss- Quin Fogarty is really awesome and supportive. At first I was nervous to tell everyone I had a girlfriend, but they were all so cool about that. It was wild going to take the rake hearing about how some peoples bosses weren’t supportive because I’ve never had that experience.
Do you see any other ladies on park crew or riding?
No, there’s none on park crew. The terrain park manager used to be female before she hired my boss and he replaced her. There are a few girls that ride park, but most of them are from Gould academy. I don’t get to interact with them too much. That is a goal of mine.. to meet more girls that ride park around here.
Living in Salt Lake City there is a heavy group of female riders. Sometimes I forget that we are the exception - that not every region has such a strong female presence.
It's kinda weird, sometimes I like being the only girl, but all eyes are on you when you're the only girl. I never see groups of girl riders. It’s one girl with a group of guys. You feel alone with your experiences when you’re at a small resort or you don’t see other people like you.
Kind of like imposter syndrome - when you like to snowboard, and you're in the industry, but it feels like you don’t belong and you're just going through the motions. Working here last year on park crew sometimes I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here. Going to Take The Rake was really validating. Learning new skills helped me feel more confident. Knowing there are other people out there like me made me feel more secure.
What was your experience like at Take The Rake?
I didn’t really expect to design the park from top to bottom, from rail fabrication, welding, literally building a box and then setting it. I’ve never had an opportunity to work on rail fabrication before. That was really cool- learning more about power tools. My favorite part was seeing everyone's smiles coming up the tow rope when the park we built was open- that was so cool.
At Take The Rake we set an entire park. A lot of resorts put in a few rails at a time and build up to a full park. We tried to explain each step of the process to keep everyone on the same page. It’s one thing to know how to do something, it’s another to be able to explain it cohesively.
I like how you guys broke it down for us - you didn’t assume that we knew everything, which was really helpful. Sunday River is a small resort; We don’t have the opportunity to learn as much. We have 5 people on park crew and our supervisor is usually busy on snow making or doing other stuff. We don’t have workshops or a training day, we kind of just learn on the job. It’s like, “Oh they ride park, they must know how to rake the park.” But that’s not really true.
What do you want to see from more resorts?
Having a solid progression park would be very helpful in getting more girls involved in riding park. Somewhere you can learn your first front board… A way to get less experienced people involved without having to start on a 20 ft rail.
The community rake and ride* days were really cool, I was thinking about a rake and ride day here but I’m not sure if there’s even enough ladies that would want to come, but I guess you won’t know until you put it out there and see how many people come.
Even if you publicized an event like that and no girls show, if girls start seeing that there are spaces and opportunities for them it's gonna get some wheels turning. Just because you don’t get the numbers right away that doesn’t mean that it’s not having a positive impact.
Yeah I’m tempted to talk to my supervisor about that.
What did you think of the Mental Meetup?
I enjoyed it and think it’s a very helpful space for the snowboarding community. Since it was my first time attending, I preferred listening but took away a lot from just that.
Any other thoughts?
If you see a girl riding park at your local mountain, go up and say hi to them. Don’t be afraid of them- because they’re probably afraid of you. Introduce yourself - that’s a good first step.
As a girl riding in the park and only seeing guys ride the park it’s very intimidating… Be more friendly with other people riding in the park and learning stuff because those people probably want friends too. At Take The Rake everyone was talking to everyone. The environment helped, we all knew that we had the same goals.
Be more friendly to people learning, and people will want to get better. Not just skill level riding wise but people who want to advance in the industry too.
I’m way more excited when I see someone fall because they’re trying something new. That hypes me up. Watching someone do their stock tricks all day long is boring. As for industry stuff - I got where I am by asking questions and taking chances. If someone asks a question it shows they care and they want to progress.
*Community Rake and Ride: Another brainchild of Marsha Hovey - Trollhaugen’s Marketing queen (manager.). Ladies signed up in advance to take part and met up with the ladies of Take the Rake at 9:00 am. We put a rake in their hands and took them through the morning rake. We had some people who had never touched a rake before and others who were already employed on park crew at other resorts. We went over how to smooth finish things - no rake or drag lines, reshaping preexisting lips, building a side approach lip from scratch, and more…
Nikki Lorentz hails from Canada. She’s a sweetheart, and will probably make you laugh if you spend any time with her. She crushes on a snowboard and advocates for other women in our industry. Take The Rake got her fired up…
When and where did you get into digging?
When I first started snowboarding I rode alone the majority of the time. The second season a group of riders noticed I was alone and asked if I wanted to ride. We started riding together a lot, they took me into the park for the first time. When I hit on my first rail the hype of the crew got me hooked to the park. I asked park crew at Silverstar Mountain how I could get on it, they told me let yourself be known on the mountain in the park area - show off that you're passionate about this. I entered every rail comp, talked to the park manager as much as I could. I made myself be seen.
Were there other girls?
There hadn’t been a girl for at least 4-5 years and the last 2 girls employed had bad experiences. When I came in they had an expectation because the past 2 girls left a bad taste in their mouth. The rules they told me were “Don’t be a cunt and Don’t get pregnant”
Wow what the fuck.
A big thing I loved about take the rake was hearing peoples stories and looking back to my own experience and realizing that what I thought was pretty normal was actually pretty fucked up.
I don’t know if this is something I put on myself but my first 2 years was in this party era. Like if you don’t party, you're not really in. So with that park crew, we drank a lot. Also being the only female, feeling like you had to keep up with the boys in your drinking and partying. I never felt bullied or hazed, but I felt pressured to keep up in these ways.
Damn, yeah. I felt that way as a rider as well. Feeling like I had to drink to be accepted.
Silverstar has changed so much. I started working with the tail end of the party generation. Seeing the change over - the park crew now is really more passionate about digging. People aren’t hanging out in the shack hungover all day anymore. It’s a rare occasion now for park crew to go to the bar. Now people are actively trying to be good humans, they want the park to be dialed for the friends who have the day off digging and are just riding.
What was your experience like at Take The Rake?
Last year I wasn’t working at a resort - I couldn’t afford housing and everything with the pay.
This was the first time seeing so many girls making it not just on resort, but also off resort, like you, Abby, Mary, and Ashley. It was inspiring and made me feel like I could work in the industry again.
(I work with Snowboy Productions, Abagail Louis works with Arena Snowparks, Mary Walsh works with Snowboard mag and photography, and Ashley Rosenmeyer is a freelance photographer)
I loved seeing the team and leadership stuff. (On the build day) Before lunch some of the girls seemed anxious - Then we had a regroup. I loved what Eegan said, “We’re here and we’re allowed to take our walls down.” We were operating in defense mode- but we didn’t have to be. We talked about building with confidence. Knowing we are good at what we’re doing. There was no one judging …. Take The Rake is the place to trust yourself, to take your walls down.
It’s different to be aware of how we usually operate, and try to change it up…
I notice I usually need approval, like I need someone to say yes or no, so it was different being able to trust my own skills.
At your home park do you do a whole set?
We usually just set a few things at a time, more gradually.
How did it feel watching everyone ride?
That was fucked up, that was crazy. It was so instant - there were pros out there. I had never ridden a tow rope. Our park is so wide and open, and the park lift is also the main lift. To see such shredders everywhere and see it pop off. I loved being on the tow rope and hearing everyone so hyped. Like what is this place, there’s a different breed out here.
Riding the rope and just watching everyone - it's insane. The level of riding is so high. Talking about it on build day - trying to guess how quickly someone would get the closeout to down rail.
Yeah and then it was right away.
(Shout out to Tony!)
What did you think of the Mental Meetup?
That’s something I was super stoked for going in. When I started riding, 7 years ago, I was catching the tail end of party boarding. Moving into a different area where we're more conscious of ourselves. I was really stoked to get to be a part of it. We didn’t really know everyone yet, it was pretty wild to sit in a circle and get that vulnerable that quick. I’m such a sympathy crier, like if anyone cried I’m going under.
Haha me too. Do you learn any new skills?
I picked up some raking techniques for sure, transition raking, stomping each side of a rail while you're setting it. I brought that home. Being able to look at things in relation to how the cats are coming in - your lawn mower analogy.
We talked about how if you look at a park with a birds eye view you want the cat to be able to make straight passes, like mowing the lawn, without having to pinch in around the rails. You want to work with your operators and try to make each other's lives easier.
And welding was so dope. I love how Marsha said Take the Rake was a spark - I felt that when I got home. Like let’s light this fire. I have a crew of girls, we do a lot of riding and industry stuff. I'm so grateful I have an outlet, I can take on projects. We got back on the 4th, on Friday we hosted a female movie night at our local bar. One of the girls on our crew who recently moved to Whistler came back and surprised us. It was perfect.
What do you want to see more of from other resorts?
I would love to see girls not have to work twice as hard for stuff. I'd like it to be more normalized for girls to be there
Nothing in the Pantry has not only changed stuff for the girls, but also changed the perspective for the guys. There’s been a girl on park crew ever since I started… I think at least 2 girls actually. That change is very possible - I've seen it on my local mtn.
What is Nothing In The Panty?
We’re a few girls that want to make an environment that we wish we had when we got into the industry. We say we’re a bunch of mediocre riders that want to hype the girls.
You're much better than mediocre - Check out @nothinginthepanrty on insta.
I’d like to see more small events to let the girls know they’re welcome. We had a ladies gear night at a local shop and a round table talk.
One thing I took away was this idea -Say you bring a stiff boot into a shop - if no one buys it, they take it off the shelf. But It needs to be marketed and held up, because if it’s never been in shops before girls don’t know that it exists. You have to let it be known and give it more than a season.
It’s the same as the industry as a whole. You have to let the girls know that your resort is a safe place for females to work. In the past it hasn’t always been that way. You have to market to females through events and social media, let it be known and be consistent. It’s never been that way before.
Yeah kind of like the idea if you don’t get the numbers right away - be patient. Don’t get rid of anything or write it off.
Consistency - you can’t expect the girls to know they’re welcome. How would we know that when it’s never been a thing?
Any other thoughts?
Big thanks to Marsha, and all the leaders, everyone who made it happen. You really cleared a trail through thistles for a lot of girls.
Abby Lewis | @younggaill
Addi Strum | @disp0sable_paradise
Audrey Doan | @audreyrdoan
Ava Peterson | @ayvbruh_
Casey Solomon | @_quesi
Egan Wint | @fried.huevo
Emily O’Connor | @emisgnar
Haley Boucot | @lil_zoinker
Laura Rogoski | @sk8tits
Monica Harris | @mon_ica_harris
Natawnie Spellacy | @not.a.weenie
Nikki Lorentz | @nikkilorentz
Sophie Bille | @sophiebubbles__
Taylir Symons | @taylirj
Anny Vongsavanh | @annydefeen
Chloe Butel | @floweychloey
Harmonee Johnson | @harmoneejohnson
Jess Goucher | @jessgoucher
Kryn Allen | @huckleberrykryn
Ashley Rosemeyer | @thrashley_photo
Mary Walsh | @walshmt
Evan Pierce | @evanpiercephoto
VIDEO + EDIT:
Nali Prevedel | @kreepitsleazy
Additional filming by Robbie Weides
CLINIC + EVENT SUPPORT:
Adam Mahler | @__the3m__
Jess Richitelli | @jessrichitelli
Marsha Hovey | @someginger
Trollhaugen | @trollhaugentroll
Techno Alpin | @technoalpin
Pisten Bully | @pistenbullyworld
Goretex | @goretexna
Liquid Death | @liquiddeath
Red Bull Snow | @Redbullsnow
Arena Snowparks | @arena_snowparks
Effective Edge | @effective_edge
LVL Up Academy | #LVLUpAcademy