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Features

GIRL POWER

Story & Photos by: Vern Putzer
3/26/2017

Just as gender gaps in other professional sports are disappearing so are those in the snowmobile market.

In recent years, the segment that has transformed the most is the rise of female riders in the backcountry and mountain-riding category. In fact, some of the most influential riders being picked up as brand ambassadors and athletes in today's most progressive films are female riders.

Two such examples are Ashley Chaffin, who is a backcountry Ski-Doo brand ambassador and Nadine Overwater who stars in the latest film by 509 titled "Eleven".

Like other rising female riders in the sport, neither Ashley nor Nadine possess brawny strength to muscle their sleds around. Instead, they cleverly manipulate their 120-lb mass and make use of instinctive skills along with their knowledge of the sled's power and mechanical advantage to finesse the sled through the gnarliest and most imposing terrain.

During a recent trip to Carl Kuster's CKMP in Sicamous, BC to shoot a special SnowTrax Television story on female riders, we were firsthand witnesses to how far female riders have progressed and how they're teaching the proverbially dog (male riders) new tricks.

Shelly Ferguson, also known as Carl Kuster's better half and mother to their beloved son, is another example of a female athlete who has shattered stereotypes.

Also recognized as a talented backcountry skier, Shelly has attracted other female riders who have turned to the snowmobile instead of the helicopter to get access to steep and deep ski terrain. In doing so, Shelly and other female riders have answered the call with riding clinics that are continuously being sold out.

We were fortunate to ride with a group of the instructors, which included Shelly and Nadine along with Megan Render, Kelsey Stefanyk and one of the pioneers in female-mountain riding, Stephanie Schwartz.

To say we were impressed would be an understatement. Probably a better word would be humbled.

After following their instruction and better understanding their technique and approach to navigating really technical terrain, we began to pick much smoother lines and exerted almost half the energy we normally would have used in a day of riding.

Based on our success, we can see more and more female riders taking a leading role of riding camps that even cater to male riders.