Meet Maude Richon, snowboarder and organiser of the Ladies First Challenge
Words Posy Dixon, photo Nico Rudaz
I can’t be more than three weeks without needing the mountains – it’s my dope. I grew up in Moutier, a small place in the north of Switzerland, with my parents and sister Valentine. My best memories from that time are the moments in the Alps. We went on many winter and summer holidays in a chalet in Thyon, where I learned to ski and snowboard.
I’ve always admired and respected my parents more then anyone. I am so grateful for how they motivate and advise my sister and I in our lives. My parents, my sister and my boyfriend are probably the most important people to me and the ones I turn to when things get hard.
I’d compare finding snowboarding to discovering good wine for the first time. I started when I was 13 years old. I had been entering ski competitions for seven years and wanted to try something a little more fun. I got on a snowboard for the first time at a little resort near Moutier, it was an incredible moment and I never went back to skis again. There are so many possibilities on a board you don’t have with skis.
I’ve been riding for Nikita for five years. I liked the spirit of the brand, “for girls who ride”. I saw an article with Heida (the founder) in a magazine and it was like an epiphany! I wanted to be involved in that company. I sent a folder with a video and pictures of me to Nikita Switzerland and they decided to integrate me into the team.
We wanted to get girls together to ride park and have fun, but we also wanted to create a platform from which riders could get noticed. So last year a group of us created the Ladies First Association, and organised the first girls’ freestyle Swiss tour, a series of competitions across Switzerland. Nikita were supportive of the idea and it became the Nikita Chickita Swiss Tour. For Winter 10/11 we are doing the same series again, but this time called the Ladies First Challenge.
The best thing about the tour is how motivated the riders are and the good spirit between everyone involved. The girls like riding together and are there to have fun and learn, not just to win the competition. Everyone supports each other and the atmosphere at the events is amazing. That means a lot to me, you never find that same environment in mens’ competitions.
Last year we were really unlucky with the weather and had bad conditions for nearly the entire tour. But it turns out girls are pretty tough and despite the weather loads of girls were still motivated to ride so we didn’t cancelled any of the contests. Another real challenge is of course funding, trying to find sponsors for the event outside of ski and snowboard brands is hard. We’ve managed to organise six contests with a very small budget, but it’s been a real struggle.
I try not to reflect on negative things in snowboarding, such as fear or doubt. My boyfriend is a huge help to me. We talk a lot and generally it seems talking about things is the best solution to kill any worries. I think it’s important to find someone with who you can entrust your fears. You can’t advance when you’ve too many doubts in the way.
My dream is to create a European freestyle tour just for girls. We’re only in our second year and we have 8000 Swiss franc for the winners. I hope that in the near future we’ll be organising events in France, Germany, Italy and Austria too. For now we need to find people from across Europe to join us so that we actually make it happen.
Maude is sponsored by Nikita clothing and Ride snowboards. For more info on the Ladies First Challenge visit ladiesfirstchallenge.ch