Glentress Freeride Park was full of flying women as 60+ descended for the annual Air Maiden womenâ€™s freeride competition June 30th-July1st.
Air Maiden 2012 celebrates fives years of sending women off hucks, flying off jumps and railing round berms. This year was no exception to years gone and with 60 plus women coming along to Glentress Freeride Park for the weekend it was one of the busiest Maidens yet!
Air Maiden was created by Lynne Armstrong in 2008, she was the first female member of the Clan stunt team and realised after competing in Crankworx that there was a lack of events in the UK geared towards introducing women to freeride. So in 2008 Air Maiden was set up. The philosophy was to create an environment that both pushed and encouraged women to improve their skills, but also to provide an event that showcased the best riders as an added inspiration. Five years down the line and Air Maiden is more popular than ever. The weekend follows a format of coaching on the Saturday and a friendly competition on the Sunday, as a chance to put the newly learnt skills to the test.
You sign up to two coaching sessions on the Saturday ranging from core skills to advanced drops and kicker jumps. Then on the Sunday you get marked by the coaches on certain sections of the park â€“ marks are awarded on the riderâ€™s development over the course of the weekend which helps make the competition side of things less intimidating and more inclusive to those riders just starting out. On hand to coach this year were regulars Emma and Tracy, DH/Enduro racer Helen Gaskell and Dirt Schoolâ€™s Andy.
Coach Helen Gaskell said â€œitâ€™s so great to be involved in such an awesome event â€“ especially seeing all the girls riding and progressing throughout the weekend. Air Maiden weekendâ€™s rad and always lots of fun. One of the best things for me is coaching the girls on the Saturday and then seeing them putting what theyâ€™ve learnt into practice on the sunday. All the girls did so well and the level of progress throughout the weekend was incredible!â€
Saturdayâ€™s sessions got into full swing, with the occasional down-pour and onset of midgies not dampening anyoneâ€™s spirits. Woops and cheers echoed around the park as girls tackled the skinnies for the first time, hit up the middle huck or just got that first sweet sensation of air-time.
One of the brilliant things about Air Maiden is that it attracts such a variety of riders. From women who are seasoned jumpers, to trail riders who have never had their wheels off the ground. The weekend encourages all different types of riders to unite, share tips and skills and an opportunity to meet new riding buddies!
Riders pick two coaching sessions on the Saturday from the following â€“ core skills, beginners jumps, beginners drops, advanced jumps, advanced drops, wallrides and skinnies or the kicker.Groups then head off with the coaches for an hours lesson on their selected class.
When not in the classes itâ€™s a great chance to work on various sections of the park, hang out with other girls or just grab a brew and soak in the atmosphereâ€¦
Saturday rolls to a close as the waft of BBQ smoke begins to fill the park. Groups of tired but happy ladies retire around the fire to share tales of the day and to witness the spectacle that keeps most women returning to Air Maiden year after year â€“ Magsâ€™ dancingâ€¦
Saturdayâ€™s antics continue well into the early morning with an impressive dance-routine on the Box keeping people entertained, followed by Gaskellâ€™s rope tricks, Magsâ€™ dancing and general drunken tomfoolery â€“ along with the classic Air Maiden â€˜how many women can you get dancing on a picnic benchâ€¦â€™ Our trusty camera lady was too busy looking after the beers to get any shots of Saturdayâ€™s antics, but fear not as Liz got it covered (Saturday anticsâ€¦here)
Sunday â€“ competition day â€“ kicked off with a few hours practice in the park before the main competition began. Competitors are scored on 3 sections of the park. â€œBerm Baby Bermâ€ a swoopy, bermy piece of singletrack that tests a riders cornering skills.
â€œTeenage Kicksâ€ a set of 7 tabletop jumps to test the newfound air-skills.
â€œThe skinny sectionâ€ skinnies, followed by the hucks and easily the part of the competition that puts the fear into the most seasoned Air Maidens (why do the skinnies do this every time?!)
Finally there is the optional â€œKicker competitionâ€ enter this just for the craic or if youâ€™re up for it whip it up with some tricks!
The competition atmosphere was great, cheers of support and applause was heard throughout as girls encouraged each other on. The laid-back atmosphere to the competition is another great aspect of the weekend â€“ youâ€™re encouraged to tackle as much, or as little as you want and thereâ€™s no pressure to bust any crazy moves. Itâ€™s just chance to put what youâ€™ve learnt over the weekend into practice!
Progress over the weekend was outstanding, girls whoâ€™d previously never left the ground were tackling the table-tops confidently, women whoâ€™d only ever hit up the little drop were taking on the middle and big one like pros and people who were previously scared of the kicker were flying off it!
All in all it was another super successful weekend that reignited the love of riding for many!
Below are the results to the main competition and kicker comp; although with Air Maiden where you came is not important, itâ€™s what you achieved that counts â€“ you ALL rocked it girls! (Full list of results at bottom)
Air Maiden 2012:
1st â€“ Jo Cardwell
2nd â€“ Claire McGhie
3rd â€“ Jo Bamborough
Most Improved riders were:
1st- Nicola Jackson
3rd- Debbie Perrins
1st- Erin Maguire
2nd- Liz Law
3rd- Nicola Johnson
Best Trick -Liz Law
So thatâ€™s it! Another Air Maiden in the bag â€“ another bunch of women STOKED to ride! Massive thanks go out to Mags, Lesley and Polly for holding the Air Maiden fort whilst Lynne is in Canada. And thanks to those that helped support the event: Dirt School, Ana Nichoola, Go-Where, Loeka, Point 6, Uplift Scotland, Shud Wear, Flotec Suspension, The Bike Station, Sweet Protection and Santa Cruz.
There will be TWO â€“ yes TWO Air Maidens for 2013 so keep your ears and eyes peeled for all the latest news here! And join the Air Maiden group to find out the latest shenanigans!