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  • Writer's pictureXavi Quirós

From the Streets to the Spotlight: The Uninvited Euro Qualifier Ignites A New Era For Women’s Snowboarding

The Uninvited Euro Qualifier - Presented by Union Binding Co. & CAPiTA Snowboards With Support from Monster Energy, Method Magazine, Blue Tomato, and Absolut Park It was amazing!


Kaili Randmäe from Estonia | Photo: Henrike Ibing

The first ever Uninvited Euro qualifier went off under sunny skies this past weekend at Absolut Park in Flachauwinkl, Austria. Drawing in more than 60 enthusiastic riders from all over Europe, Scandinavia, and even Japan, they gathered against the backdrop of Chillhouse to ride a custom setup built just for them. The top 3 riders of this competition were rewarded with a free trip and coveted spot at The Uninvited Invitational in Woodward Park City, USA next month where they will compete with the best in the world for a $55,000 USD prize purse and international recognition.


“I was blown away by the Euro and Scandi talent at last year’s Uninvited Invitational in the USA”, founder Jess Kimura said when asked why she created this event. “Plenty of these riders deserve the chance to showcase their skills on a world stage, but it’s an expensive trip and often their first time traveling overseas. We wanted to do something to remove some barriers and help get them the recognition they deserve”.

The level of riding at the event surpassed even Kimura’s expectations. “Friday was just supposed to be a practice day; a warm up and chance for the competitors to get comfortable on the course. Instead we witnessed some of the most elevated levels of riding I’ve ever seen, and Saturday was even more insane. It just goes to show how much they can rise to the occasion when given an opportunity to shine”.


Telma Särkipaju traveled from Finland to take the win | Photo: Dasha Nosova

The results did not disappoint. During Friday's practice, the crowd more than doubled the 2023 North American event, attracting industry leaders, fans, and supporters who gathered at the bottom of the course to catch a glimpse of the action while passers-by dropped what they were doing to push in for a better view. The energy surged on into Saturday’s qualifier round, where 25 riders advanced to the finals. The music was pumping, the Monster drinks were flowing, and shirtless male fans with painted faces were hoisting the riders on their shoulders, running up and down the course to cheer on the girls.


The judges were hard-tasked to decide the winners as it took over 30 minutes to come to a decision. “There were so many riders who could have been on the podium, it was a really tough call but ultimately it shows how much undiscovered talent there is”, judge and event organizer Nirvana Ortanez reflected.


The judges were hard-tasked to decide the winners as it took over 30 minutes to come to a decision. “There were so many riders who could have been on the podium, it was a really tough call but ultimately it shows how much undiscovered talent there is”, judge and event organizer Nirvana Ortanez reflected.


In the end Telma Särkipaju from Finland took the top spot, followed by Livia Tanno from Switzerland in second and Kaili Randmäe from Estonia in third. Maisie Hill hailing from the UK took the win for best air on the hip jump, as well as best trick on the staircase feature with a hard way front 270 gap on the kink rail. Australia’s Mela Stalker had a perfect noseslide pretzel on the waterfall rail and earned her the best trick award for the jib zone, while Kaili Randmäe took home the title of most creative overall.


Beyond the competition itself, the event fostered a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among participants, reinforcing the importance of supporting and uplifting one another. “Being at this Euro Qualifier was like opening a Christmas present that you were really wishing for,” said Finnish special guest and Union/Capita team rider Henna Ikola. “For some girls, it was the first time that they got to be part of a big event, to feel included and seen. I’ve never witnessed 60 women at the same event in Europe. It was awesome to see how everyone was genuinely so hyped and grateful to be a part of it.”


This sentiment was evident during the Sunday Laps Community Ride Day that followed the competition, where riders from all levels were welcome to participate and receive free coaching and prizes. As the weekend drew to a close, The Uninvited crew expressed gratitude to everyone who contributed to its success, from the resort staff, athletes and judges to the park crew, spectators, and industry attendees.


The Uninvited Euro Qualifier was presented by Union Binding Co. and Capita Snowboarding, with support from Monster Energy, Method Magazine, Blue Tomato, and Absolut Park.


Left to Right: 2nd Place Livia Tanno 1st Telma Särkipaju 2nd Kaili Randmäe | Photo: Dasha Nosova

ABOUT THE UNINVITED

The Uninvited was spearheaded in 2017 by Jess Kimura, one of the most influential snowboarders of the past decade. After recognizing an abundance of talent without a proper platform to showcase it on, she self-produced an award-winning film trilogy that challenged the gender disparity in the action sports industry. The Uninvited series launched multiple careers for girls, women, and non-binary riders who needed a place to shine.


Harnessing the same energy and intentions that fueled those films, we have channeled them into a competition series where these riders aren't just a subcategory; they are the main event. By providing the platform and tools needed for them to thrive, our goal is to empower these athletes to rise above expectations and rewrite the narrative for generations to come. The Uninvited Invitational serves as a platform to showcase and enable the highest level of progression in a street-oriented environment.


Henna Ikola putting on a show. | Photo: Dasha Nosova


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