Last weekend we caught up with one of the icons of girls jibbing in Europe, Gaia Giacomazzi, who not only hosts the unique and laid back girls jib event Jib Days in the Kleinwalsertal but also advocates for more support among girls themselves
Interview by Anna Langer
We're at the Jib Days right now, the second edition of the girls jib event you inaugurated last year. How did that come about?
I've been riding a lot of contests back in the days and they were always slopestyle, there were no real rail jams or at least no mellow ones. I always felt such a pressure riding contests, so I wanted to create something where all the girls with different riding levels could come together and have fun without feeling any of this pressure or stressing out to get a result. So that was probably the first point: to create an easy event for everyone. And then two years ago the Crystal Ground snow park asked me if I wanted to do a "Hosted By" event, they had this series where a rider choses the set up and hosts a little session. As that got bigger I asked Carmen to do it with me - she's my friend, we're both from Switzerland and love to ride together so I thought that would be fun. Then we got Zimtstern involved and it worked out really got, it was a great session last year!
I wanted to create something where all the girls with different riding levels could come together and have fun without feeling any of this pressure or stressing out to get a result
How did you get into jibbing yourself?
I think it was the Laax scene influence. I spent a season in Laax and there were a lot of people jibbing, so they got me into it too. Then I met my boyfriend, who used to ride street a lot, so he got me into jibbing even more than before.
Do you remember the first trick you learned?
Yes! Well, the first jib trick on a rail, because boxes don't really count. It was in Laax and it was a backside board slide on a really small down rail. The funny thing is that after I learnt more jibbing stuff, I couldn't do that trick anymore! I don't know why, it was my first trick and I was doing it for so long but then I learnt other tricks and forgot how to do that one.
What advise to do you have for girls who want to start to get into ?
A good start would be trying to ride a tube and jumping on it from the side instead of just riding on it straight, so you already get a feel for this jumping on, which is what you do on rails normally. And from there just step it up bit by bit, maybe going somewhere where there's small down rails (like here!) and just give it a try. If you try it on something small there's nothing that can happen really, it's not so hard and even if bail you’re not gonna get hurt. Once you can do a 50-50 on there, you can do it pretty much everywhere. The biggest part is not being afraid.
Well... How do you do that?
I don't know, I'm still afraid of some tricks! It depends I guess, there are some days where you’re just having a really good day, you're really motivated and with your friends and suddenly you don't have that fear anymore, kind of…
Is there a mind trick to deal with it too?
Yeah kinda, I just try to make my body really strong and activate all my muscles so I don’t feel like a jelly. And I really focus on the trick, how I'll jump on it - not really about the end because then you're thinking too far away and might forget the beginning. I did that today, such a stupid mistake: I wanted to do a nose blunt and I was already thinking about the blunt part and forgot the jumping on the rail so my board tabbed the rail and I bailed…
I think jam sessions are really good as well as the other girls you are riding with are not in a competition with you and so they are really stoked if you do a super cool trick.
It feels as if jibbing got really big for girls in the last three to four years, how do you see that?
I think it all pretty much started with the Peepshow from America, that was something new in the snowboard scene. A way to be something, be someone and get sponsored without riding the big competitions. I think it's a really good thing because not every girl can handle this kind of pressure so I think filming, being with your friends and a crew is almost more important than just doing contests. I think jam sessions are really good as well as the other girls you are riding with are not in a competition with you and so they are really stoked if you do a super cool trick. They get inspired and want do it too, instead of being competitive. The guy’s scene is so much bigger and of course there are girls in guys’ crews as well, but never together, one girl goes riding with those guys and another one with some others. So one of the main aims of this event here was also to bring the girls together, so they know each other. Last year I didn't know JJ and Gina Somani and the rest of them, I mean I knew who they were but I din't know them. But since last year we became really good friends and go riding together and stuff. This year some girls even came from Sweden, I didn't know them before but now they're here, we're riding together, it's so much fun and also good for the connections - maybe one day you wanna go to Sweden and now you have people you know there! So nice!
What were the main changes from last year to this?
It got more international for sure. And the set up got a little bit harder too because the girls level got higher, so we had to improve the set up to match their skills! We still got easy stuff too though, with the boxes and the smaller rail lines.
If you had unlimited funds, what would your dream event look like?
I would probably invite a few girls that are really good, I would give them more prize money as I find the current categories really unfair. I've been to a rail jam in Munich and there was a total of 5000 Euros to win and in the girl's category, the winner got 250 Euros - only the first one! - and the 2nd & 3rd just got stuff. At another rail jam, the guy winner got 500 Euros while the girl only got a snowboard! That really pisses me off sometimes. I know we're not as many as the guys and don’t pull tricks as hard as they. But still, we push ourselves to our limits and our bodies are different from men's, we can't change that and it's proven that our limits are different from guys because of that. So I find it very unfair to give us less credit by giving us less price money. Maybe the guys are doing harder tricks, but for us the tricks we are doing a hard too, you have to see it in proportion.
So would you have a contest part at your dream event as well?
Yes, I would do a cash for tricks session because it really motivates the girls. Like here. they go "yeahhh I did this trick" if they landed something, “but it wasn't so clean so I'll try again and then I'm gonna get the 5 Euros!".
What about the set up?
I think this set up right here is pretty cool. My favourite feature is the pole jam. There's a flat box underneath it too, to make it a bit harder, although it's actually fine if you land flat like you're supposed to.
Girls should support each other more! And the guys should take us more seriously
Anything else you wanna get off your chest?
Girls should support each other more! For sure. And the guys should take us more seriously. I have the feeling when it's a girls event everybody is like "Ah, it's just girls, it's gonna be this girly thing" but no it's not, we have balls as well! Not physically but in other ways!
That's the cool thing about this event, no body cares if you're sponsored or not. I had my own experience with that at the Burton European Open when I was 16 and won a wild card at the Burton AM Tour and thought why not give it a try. But there I was the only girl without a sponsor and I felt super uncomfortable, all the others were looking at me like "Oh poor girl who doesn't even have a sponsor, she can't be any good". What's the point in judging other girls? You're not gonna be any better if you make the other girl feel bad. I’m not really that good at riding myself anymore, I used to be when I was young because I started to early and there are so many girls who are a lot better than me today. But I celebrate that and am super stoked to see girls like JJ and Gina ride, I love watching them. I’m also doing this event for girls like them, maybe they’re not so lucky to know the right people with connections for coverage and so on so I love supporting them in that way! I’ve been riding for so lang that I feel like I don’t have to ride myself anymore now and am happy helping out other female rides. I can’t keep on riding forever either so should find my job for live and get a bit more serious myself so I’m combining the two.
That’s an amazing idea! Good luck and thanks for the talk!
Stay tuned for more impressions and moving images from Jib Days II appearing in this space soon! Gaia is sponsored by Rome SDS, Thirtytwo Boots, Etnies, Volcom, Electric and 5ive Skateshop.