By Nick Lipton – Everyone knows that women adore Totino's Pizza Rolls, so obviously the stars of female shredding were out and about for the Totino's Open Female Slopestyle Open Qualifier. The big wigs of female snowboarding competed, hung, sang and danced with the new crop of female talent. After the two hour qualifier/hangout session the new ladies on the block seemed to dominate the podium. This qualifier even had a dramatic ending. First place was decided by less than a point, as Lynn Neil edged out Sarka Panc.
While the Men's qualifier was hidden in a blizzard, the ladies enjoyed clear calm winds and total visibility. Lynn Neil capitalized on the nice weather late in the contest. Lynn's second run scored a 91.67, good enough for the win, and justified by serious riding. Lynn locked into a 50-50 popped a backside 180 out, and popped a huge Cab 540 off the first jump. Lynn had some 360's and some other rail trickery as well, but that first two trick line was very impressive.
Young gun Sarka Panc came in second, but just barely. Sarka scored a 91.17 her first run, and would have won if it wasn't for Lynn's last minute hammers. There is a lot of hype around this 19 year old, and there should be. Sarka rides with a comfortable confidence, it's impressive. A fellow competitor even added, "Note Sarka for the future, she is the future, she has back to back 7's." Hopefully we'll see those back to back 720's tomorrow during the prelims.
Cheryl Maas couldn't ride, she was injured. Female legends Leanne Pelosi and Erin Comstock didn't make the cut. Megan Ginter couldn't make the elusive top five either. For a while it looked as though the qualifiers for tomorrow's prelim would be superstar free, until Hana Beaman tore through the course. Hana dropped into her second run with a 50-50, and followed it up with backside 360, frontside 360, backside 360 on the triple set before sliding all over the lower rail section. Each of Hana's 360's were huge, each taller than the last. This lady has skills.
Isabelle "Izzy" Lalive might not have had the most complete run, but her massive front seven was absolutely deserving of 4th place. Izzy cracked off the lip like the big boys and spun the first 360 smooth and stylish. Tucked up just right, and spinning smoothly, Izzy held onto her board just past the 540 mark. Truly an impressive 720.
As Shelly Gotlieb cheered for herself just before dropping I heard, "Where I'm from we don't have cheerleaders." and a moment later she dropped in, pressed out a banger five-0, and then corked a 360 to the point of forcing fear and panic out of any onlooker. Izzy survived, and made the cut for prelims with a 5th place finish.
The up and coming Raewyn Reid looked fierce sliding rails, but couldn't jump due to two bruised heels. Cheryl Maas recently hurt her shoulder and didn't want to risk a surgery inducing injury by competing. Rather than be the injured buzzkill Cheryl acted as group coach and entertainer. Cheryl's rendition of various '80's rock ballads kept spirits high, while her intimidating yet sweet coaching style pushed the ladies to be a bit more gnarly. Erin Comstock and Leanne Pelosi didn't qualify, but Erin has a mean frontboard, and when Leanne's on, her jumping abilities are tough to compete with. Megan Ginter wasn't satisfied with her performance either, "I did a little sizzle sazzle, some board taps. No, really, I did really lame things…" and admitted, "…because I was scared and I wanted to land." Megan isn't one to fear much, but after watching the boys slam all day, safety first seemed to make good sense to everyone.
The Female Slopestyle Open Qualifier was impressive, fun, and more than anything, enjoyable. The ladies were a blast. They laughed, sang, gabbed, and slaughtered a slopestyle course. Women were throwing 720's, switch 540's, lipslide 270's, front blunts, and all sorts of tricks considered progressive or cutting edge in female snowboarding. Tomorrow's prelim, where the five qualifiers will meet some of today's top female talent (Spencer O'Brien, Jamie Anderson, Bev Vuilleumier, and more) should be worth tuning into. Expect these ladies to push themselves, to see some girl carnage, and to feel the fun in snowboarding.
Lynn Neil Gap to Rail
Lynn Neil Frontside Air
1) Lynn Neil
2) Sarka Panc
3) Hana Beaman
4) Isabelle Lalive
5) Shelly Gotlieb
6) Lisa Wiik
7) Maribeth Swetkoff
8) Gabrielle Viteri
9) Megan Ginter
10) Jordie Karlinski
11) Leanne Pelosi
12) Joanna Dzierzawski