In a sport typically dominated by men, the Mascara Militia is taking over one mountain at a time.
Founded by recent alum Britt Horowitz, the Mascara Militia (MaMi) is an all female snowboarding group aimed at connecting riders over their shared love of the sport, Horowitz said.
Based at Sugarbush Mountain, the crew consists of girls from age 14 to mid-twenties, including UVM students first-year Lily Calabrese, sophomore Hailey Ronconi and alum Jessa Gilbert.
Horowitz said she founded MaMi after seeing a lack of girls on the slopes to ride with and few women riders in online edits. The MaMi crew began with a group of girls she met on the mountain and at competitions.
I picked the MaMi team based on three things: snowboard ability, positive attitudes, and the aura of confidence the rider gives off to other people, Horowitz said.
The Militia does not schedule regular practices. But with competitions taking them to mountains across the Northeast, the boarders still find themselves at the mountain most of the week, said sophomore Hailey Ronconi, who hits the slopes five days a week.
We all have certain tricks we want to work on and certain goals in our heads, but sometimes the best part of snowboarding is just shredding and having fun without any pressure, Ronconi said.
The crew recently completed The 5 Mountains in 5 Days trip, where they boarded at various mountains on the East Coast including Killington, Mt. Snow, Sugarbush, Waterville Valley and Whiteface.
Like many of their snowboarding adventures, MaMi recorded the 5 Mountains in 5 Days trip in a five episode series to be uploaded to their website.
Their website includes footage of the girls showcasing their talents in the terrain park, giving spotlight segments for each of the girls representing the team.
MaMis online presence may be part of an increasing trend that features video edits of womens snowboarding.
Ronconi said that the recent online womens snowboarding has helped her boarding in a technical way.
All these videos are awesome for girls like myself who get stoked on seeing girls shred, she said. Theyre inspiring since its sometimes easier to connect with watching a girl do a trick and transfer that to doing it yourself.
Since girls are built differently than guys, we carry a lot of weight in our hips, we move slightly differently, so watching another girl do a trick you would like to do helps you learn a way that you can do it successfully yourself, Ronconi said.
She added that the growing presence of girls on the slopes has created a positive outlook.
I think girl snowboarding is heading in a good direction, especially compared to when I first started snowboarding, she said. Recently, I have seen better turn outs for girls at rail jams.
And by better, I still only mean that five is considered a good turn out, she said.
But even with more women competing in contests and rail jams, Horowitz said she wishes fellow riders would take more risks.
At times I have felt it appears [contest riders] arent hucking the bigger tricks, she said. They want to secure a spot on the podium with a solid run of things they know they can land versus taking the risk to do something really gnarly.
Boarding aside, MaMi has done more than achieve success on the slopes.
For riders like Ronconi and Horowitz, the team has brought a sense of confidence and style that can inspire other female riders.
Mascara Militia is great because it has introduced me to a bunch of girls who shred, who have taught me a lot and who are super encouraging, Ronconi said. It has been really good for me to just to have a lot of ladies to shred with.
Senior Connor Winton, who has worked with MaMi shooting edits, has taken notice.
Watching a whole crew of badass girls pushing each other to ride is something that snowboarding needs more of, he said.
Keep your eyes peeled for MaMis participation in the Billabong Flaunt It Snowboard Series running January to April and the Volcom Peanut Butter and Rail Jam (PBRJ) coming up in March.
You can track the ladies on their webpage at www.mascaramilitia.com and follow their Instagram feed @mascaramilitia.
Two of the five edits from the 5 Mountain in 5 Days Tour have already dropped, so stay tuned for the rest.
To see the girls in action, check out senior Connor Winton’s video 5 Mountains 5 Days- Killington Stash, the second stop on the tour.
5 Mountains 5 Days – Killington Stash from Connor Winton on Vimeo.