Slope Sistair III draws a dozen competitors
For the women who arrived by plane or automobile to converge on Glade Park over the weekend, it was the camaraderie they most looked forward to.
That and the riding. The competition was an afterthought.
Slope Sistair III, a women’s-only mountain bike stunts and slopestyle event, drew a dozen participants from across North America.
The event is the brainchild of Stephanie Mechka, a Canadian now living in Seattle who loves the freestyle atmosphere of jumps and tricks.
Much of the cost of the first three Slope Sistair events has come out of Mechka’s pocket, but she’s passionate about developing the sport and allowing those who do compete to gather on a semi-regular basis.
Although many of the women often ride with men, the focus on this event is to allow women to be creative in a communal atmosphere.
“That’s what girls like about it — it’s different,” Mechka said “We don’t need the competition. We’d be happy just to ride together.”
At a jumps exhibition Sunday afternoon, all the participants encouraged each other with each successful jump and new trick.
“You want to see everyone do their best, where in racing, it’s all competitive,” said Gale Dahlager of Park City, Utah.
The three-day week began Friday with guided trail rides on Glade Park.
A skills camp and clinic Saturday helped some of the less experienced riders learn new ways to roll berms and hit jumps.
A slopestyle event followed Sunday’s morning jump practice.
“It’s a rider-judged event,” Dahlager said, once again based on women supporting each other.
Mechka was invited to the Grassroots Cycle’s Ranchstyle men’s competition in April. It was there where she saw the facilities that Grassroots Cycles owner Matt Boling had built on his land on Glade Park.
In seeking a place to hold another Slope Sistair event, “This was already built, and these guys were interested,” Mechka said.
Dahlager used to compete in downhill mountain bike races.
“In learning to jump for racing, I got into jumping alone. It was something fun,” she said.
The women seem to feed off each others’ accomplishments.
“When you see other women do it, you think you can do it,” she said of learning new tricks and jumps.
“That’s the best part,” Mechka said of the support the riders give each other.
Mechka is heartened by the fact she’s seen interest rise in the sport the past couple of years.
“We’re trying to bring other girls into the sport by promoting it,” she said.
Boling would eventually like to piggy-back a women’s event onto his annual Ranchstyle competition in April.
“It could kind of be their own event,” he said.
As with any creative activity, the participants are always learning.
“It’s such an adrenaline sport,” Mechka said. “With this you are always challenging yourself to go bigger, higher.”
It’s the thrill of accomplishing a goal that keeps her riding.
“I think it is saying, I did it, knowing you did it,” she said. “You rose to the challenge.”