WOMEN RIDING TOGETHER
Words by Billie Norman
The women’s snowboarding scene is taking centre-stage in the Bow Valley, and it’s all thanks to Abby Furrer. The manager and buyer at Banff’s Rude Girls has built – and is still building – an all-female, intimidation-free snowboarding community that is starting to turn heads. Here’s why…
For years, the snowboarding industry has predominantly been geared towards men. Yet, women’s progression in the sport and the demand for better female-specific products are present now more than ever. No one knows this better than Abby Furrer, and she and some other local riders are proving that it is high-time for women’s’ snowboarding to share some of the spotlight. Here’s Abby’s story, and how she’s shaping the Bow Valley women’s snowboarding community for years to come.
VANCOUVER TO BANFF
Born and raised in Vancouver, Abby made the move to Banff in 2011 and fell in love with snowboarding straight away. “I’ve had some of my best days, most terrifying moments and, along the way, met a lot of my closest friends – all because of snowboarding,” she says. “I’m always grateful for every day I spend on that plank of wood.” Of course, like many Bow Valley dwellers, one season turned into many. Seven years later, Abby is still residing in Banff and is now creating a women’s snowboarding community to be reckoned with.
Within her first week in town, Abby landed a job at Rude Boys and Rude Girls Snowboard and Skateboard Shop. She’d heard from a friend that the local shop was looking for some part-timers. “Assuming that many people were going to apply, I took my skate deck, sanded off the graphics and wrote my resume on it,” Abby explains. “When I handed it in I ended up buying a new deck and gripping it myself. I was later told that the only reason I got the job was because I could grip my own deck.”
GEAR, KNOWLEDGE & ATTITUDE
After working part-time at the shop for two years, Abby was given the opportunity to take on additional roles as the buyer for Rude Girls and the manager for both Rude Boys and Rude Girls. “Nerding out about snowboards is something I love to do, so working at Rude Girls has never felt like a job or a career to me,” says Abby.
The store offers a huge selection of women’s snowboarding gear – impressive when you see the size of the place. “Working for someone who allows me to order as I see fit for Banff’s demographic, and believes in supporting what we want to represent as a shop makes life pretty easy,” says Abby. The knowledge of the staff is as plentiful as the gear itself. And if you’re lucky enough to nab a spot at one of the product information nights, you’ll understand why it’s so popular.
“Rude Girls wouldn’t be Rude Girls without our team riders,” explains Abby. When the shop is looking to offer sponsorship, a candidate’s attitude is essential. According to Abby, it’s not about being the best rider on the mountain or having a ‘too cool for school’ attitude. All of the girls on the Rude Girls team are friendly, fun and know how to have a good time. Their approachable and down-to-earth nature welcomes others to join them on the hill – whether they’re lapping Standish or hitting up Grizzly park – and this same attitude is at the heart of their Ride Days.
Abby’s passion for snowboarding shines through in everything she does, and it goes beyond the Bow Valley. Last year, Abby attended a roundtable in Tahoe, California, to discuss the direction of an all-female snowboard brand and to take a sneak peek at the 2018/2019 outerwear collection.
RUDE GIRLS RIDE DAYS
When Abby first moved to Banff, she was intimidated by some of the other girls living and snowboarding there. Remembering how she felt, Abby wanted to make sure no other girls in town would ever feel that same way. Instead, she wanted to show any new arrivals that Banff is a community, and she did that through Rude Girls Ride Days. “There are no cliques when it comes to snowboarding in Banff,” Abby insists.
Another motivator to get the Rude Girls Ride Days underway kicked into gear when Abby became an ambassador for a brand that the shop carries. As part of the contract, she needed to host one community event during the winter season. Between this new ambassadorship and working for a women’s snowboard shop, there was no excuse for Abby not to do the first Rude Girls Ride Day back in 2015. The first event was so well received by attendees, volunteers, and brands that a demand for more days like this quickly ensued.
“A Rude Girls Ride Day is all about getting the girls into the terrain park,” Abby says. “By building an inviting setup of progressive boxes and rails and roping off the area, it allows girls to feel more comfortable to try tricks as there are no onlookers.” Each ride day sees a different snowboard brand and their reps showcasing next-season gear, 35-70 girls hiking a park set up, and the Rude Girls shop riders lending a helping hand and offering tips. (Two girls actually travelled all the way from Vancouver just to attend a Rude Girls Ride Day one month – now that’s saying something!)
The attendee with the most ‘ghetto’ snowboard even gets to go home with a brand new snowboard. “There are two reasons for this,” Abby explains. “One, she obviously needs a new board and, second, she is less likely to sell it on the ‘Banff Buy and Sell’ Facebook Page,” she says with a chuckle.
JOIN A RUDE GIRLS RIDE DAY
Like the sound of a Rude Girls Ride Day? Here’s how to get involved:
- Send the ‘RudeGirls Shop’ a friend request
- Join the ‘Rude Girls – For Girls That Ride’ Facebook group
Abby wanted to throw out a special mention to the Rude Girls riders for all of their hard work on the Rude Girls Ride Days and for representing the shop: Cori, Zoe, Nikki, Tess, Isabel, Ellen, Ally, Lindsay, Willow, Siena, Kennedi, Kianah, Brittany, Erica, Jenna, Indira, and Taylor!
Billie Norman fell in love with Canada at the age of seven and writing at the age of 21. After enjoying a couple of winter seasons in the Rockies, it felt right to merge her two passions together.
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