Fenale riders rock at Roxy Chicken Jam
It’s good to be queen . even if you are the chicken queen. Just two years and four competitions into the Roxy Chicken Jam, the season-opening all-female slopestyle snowboarding competition held at Park City Mountain Resort, and Natasza Zurek has walked away with the crown every time.
"I was impressed. The girls were riding so well, so there was no way I would win four times," Zurek said. Zurek, a Vancouver, Canada native, survived the main qualifying event on Saturday morning for the eight-woman showdown in the afternoon. For Zurek, the win came from clean tricks and consistency. She completed a front-side seven and turned in clean runs throughout the competition. "Its always a good feeling after trying to give everything today," Zurek said. "The "wow-factor" was added by third-place Cheryl Maas of the Netherlands, who threw a 720 early in the competition. According to Maas, the trick was just something she was trying to include as part of her usual repertoire. "I was surprised about that," Maas said. "I was just trying to do my run and I wanted that trick in my run, so I’m stoked." Priscilla Levac of Whistler, Canada finished in second place. The event awarded Zurek $12,000 and automatically qualified her for the follow-up European Roxy Chicken Jam in St. Moritz this April. Additionally, Britain’s Jenny Jones and local amateur and surprise star Christina Marie Curry will also be invited to the event. This year, there truly was an actual crowning. Chicken Jam founder Tina Birbaum called on the artistic stylings of Toujouis-toi of New York to craft tiaras and necklaces, complete with jewels and tiny chickens, to give the event a truly female feel. Besides trying to continue pushing women’s snowboarding, in both the sports and marketing arenas, Birbaum is committed to keep the event fun for the women. "I just wanted to do something funny," Birbaum said. "Trophies are boring." Birbaum, a pro rider herself, is hoping that her event is part of a movement to put women’s snowboarding at the forefront of the sport. "I think it’s so important for the women’s sports," Birbaum said. "I want to keep building it up for the girls." Already, the technical quality has increased in the Roxy competition. "You can see the girls getting better and better," Birbaum said. "It pushes the sport." Birbaum envisions the sport eventually evolving like women’s tennis, where women are celebrated for their style of the sport rather than compared with the physicality of men. "It gives them a chance," Birbaum said. Companies are also beginning to discover what a fertile market women’s snowboarding holds. "It’s more fun," Birbaum said. "There’s much more sponsor potential. ‘Who’s buying all of the gear? The girls." Birbaum has already provided a trend-setting and sport-changing platform — making the Chicken Jam event one of the premiere season openers and showing men and women alike that women’s snowboarding is girlie in the best way a mix of talent, fun, power and sparkly accessories. "I want people to realize that girls want to have fun," Birbaum said.
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