New Zealand's Female Freeriders Look to Break Barriers at the Mons Royale Future Ground Progression Camp

Mar 22, 2021
by Mons Royale  

10 Riders | 4 Days | 1 MTB mecca

The rise of women’s mountain biking has been meteoric over the past year. While we celebrate that more women are riding than ever before, it is hard to ignore the elephant in the room. The absence of female riders at the top of freeride and freestyle disciplines globally is glaring. Other action sports are successfully bridging that gap between talented amateur to professional for women, so what was the missing ingredient for women’s progression in mountain biking? 

Is it opportunity or environment? Or both?

If we drill down in how men have made that leap, self-coaching and peer support are integral in most riders' journey to the top. But it takes a critical mass to do that and is that what is missing for women? Does progression happen when you create an environment, harness the energy, and provide an opportunity for a like-minded crew of riders to get together, to get better?

Robin Goomes, Queenstown NZ

Mons Royale is on a mission to give women a platform for progression in freeriding. The light-bulb moment came when Queenstown-based Mons athlete Louise Ferguson landed her first backflip to mulch, much to the delight of the male-dominated crew at an evening session at Wynyard Jump Park. The energy and stoke in that 30 second iPhone video sparked an idea, and the Mons Royale Future Ground Progression Camp was born.

Ten New Zealand-based female riders have been shoulder tapped for a four-day camp in New Zealand’s Mountain Bike mecca, Queenstown. From self-taught up and comers through to rising stars, the riders will be provided an opportunity to learn from the best kiwi coaches and mentors. Vinny Armstrong, a kiwi rider killing it on the world stage, winning the Crankworx Whip-off three times and scoring herself an invite to Red Bull Formation, has been selected for Future Ground and is stoked by the possibility of growing alongside these other awesome women, “This camp is just what the world needs at the moment, to see women progressing and pushing the limits of freeride.”


The newly re-shaped Wynyard Jump Park will be the base of the camp, with the airbag and mulch jump playing a big part in the rider’s progression, and the freshly modified mini-dream and the legendary Dream Track are right there for the taking. SITE Trampoline in Frankton will provide the morning coaching sessions on how to move in the air, right through to performing tricks to airbag on a purpose-built ramp. The riders will have access to specialist coaches and mentors throughout the camp and beyond to help build their confidence and progression.

Mons Royale also got in touch with Katie Holden, Event Director of the trailblazing women’s event, Red Bull Formation to gain some insights from Formation and the gap in freeride. “Representation is key. Red Bull Formation has shown the world that by giving women Freeriders more opportunities to grow, they flourish. Bring on 2021, I see big things happening as there is such strong momentum right now. I’m amped to see what comes out of the Mons Royale Future Ground.”

Riders:

Louise Ferguson – Queenstown based (Scotland) – @louise_anna__ – She/Her
Vinny Armstrong – Queenstown based (Auckland) – @vinnysarmstrong – She/Her
Robin Goomes – Rotorua – @robin_riding_hood – She/Her
Kalani Muirhead – Wānaka – @kalani_muirhead – She/Her
Ellie Chew – Kapiti Coast – @ellie_chew – She/Her
Charlie Lester-Rosson – Rotorua – @charlie_lesterrosson – She/Her
Kathy Morris – Queenstown – @kathy4654 – She/Her
Kelsey Timpany – Queenstown – @3kels – She/Her
Emma Olofsson – Queenstown – @mmurmaider – She/Her
Jess Blewitt – Queenstown / Christchurch – @Jessblewitt_ – She/Her

Robin Goomes and Lousie Fergusen fired up for what's to come.



126 Comments

  • 89 8
 Wanted to post something snarky for the first comment, but I got nothing... Send it ladies!!
  • 35 2
 Every one of them shreds so much harder than I will ever be able to. So awesome.
  • 65 117
flag 87vr6 (Mar 22, 2021 at 13:42) (Below Threshold)
 Maybe go with the unnecessary she/her after each's IG handles.
  • 16 4
 @87vr6 [removed]
  • 31 9
 With majority of the content on pinkbike male related, it's appropriate to have Wednesday Women weekly!
  • 14 11
 @87vr6: Seemed superfluous to me, seeing as this is a women’s event. Maybe I missed something.
  • 30 30
 Hooray!! My comment got downvoted! As @wheelsmith said, with the majority of content on here male related, I FULLY WELCOME FEMALE CONTENT. But this she/her crap was completely unnecessary. There was no talk of gender orientation in this article, no talk of "pronoun preferences". So, go ahead, downvote me again. Just can't handle reality.

Also, if you reply to me, it needs to be @87vr6 he/him

See? See how ridiculous that sounds? No one asked me for it, just like no one asked for it above.

Like others said below, this better be on every single article now regardless of sex. Every time someone's IG handle is provided it better have pronoun/pronoun behind it.
  • 11 8
 @87vr6: bro, you're so woke.
  • 12 8
 @87vr6: couldn’t agree more
  • 9 6
 @87vr6: Amen
  • 5 16
flag timmyelle (Mar 23, 2021 at 18:29) (Below Threshold)
 @ratedgg13: Nah, if he were woke, he'd be talking about "mostly peaceful protests" or "80 Million votes" or how you need to wear 2, 3, 7, 15 masks or how "white supremacy" is ruining the world.
  • 11 4
 @87vr6: I mean... You don't have your gender in your profile. So in this case, it's actually helpful you clarified your pronouns.
  • 8 2
 @TrailFeatures: oh! well isn't this something. Well played.
  • 115 60
 Great to see a big crew of female shredders!

So after telling us the whole article about how they’re female, you have to do this ‘woke’ thing of writing ‘she/her’ after each of their names???? I don’t get that
  • 120 86
 It helps normalize the practice, so that non-binary and other gender nonconforming people can be more comfortable sharing their pronouns, which reduces misgendering and general awkwardness.
  • 76 25
 @N-60: but it's an article about women in mountain biking. if you are female but dont want to be a woman would you be in this article.
  • 64 55
 @vpfree2009: It doesn't matter who's in the article, like I said it's about normalizing the practice.
  • 88 48
 to snowball off of @N-60 's comment; biological sex and gender are two very different things. As a biologically female and non-binary individual I am comfortable with either she/her or they/them. It's not a matter of wokeness; just basic levels of respect. Plus, so many people already say, "well how am I supposed to know what to call them?!" which is actually a great question. None of us are psychic and we will inevitably make unintentional mistakes in addressing people and that's okay! Even my super conservative/republican uncle has pretty easily come around to kindly asking some folks what their preferred pronouns are. Being forward about pronouns just makes it super easy and one less thing to stress about.
  • 28 16
 i'll be expecting to see this going forward on all articles, or none. seems weird to start it off on an article about a group of women
  • 28 21
 @swillett116: Yes!!! from another person who uses she/they Smile
  • 9 9
 @N-60: aren't there fewer pronouns than genders though?
  • 22 20
 @mm732: Yeah definitely, but this way gives everyone the opportunity to choose which pronouns they feel most accurately describes them, even if it doesn't fully explain every nuance of their gender identity. At a base level, pronouns are just placeholders for someone's name, so you're never going to get all the information about someone just from their pronouns.
  • 15 35
flag alexsin (Mar 22, 2021 at 18:08) (Below Threshold)
 @N-60: I would like the people who downvoted your first comment to explain why they did.
  • 37 10
 @alexsin: i sense a little moralism in your tone.

i didn't vote either way, but some folks feel (heh) that feelings are grossly overrated. that and forced overnight normalization is not really intuitively appealing to some. cultures typically change over generations; the social engineering that has occurred in merely the last two decades is unprecedented outside of totalitarianism. hmm..
  • 36 19
 @mm732: You can’t have an opinion or a free thought unless the woke crowd deems you worth of it. Call it what you will, but this is new age thought police.
  • 32 15
 footlongsub: subway/that

please refer to me respectfully in future
  • 17 20
 @gnarlysipes: nope, not it at all. Some people are just downright exhausted from being constantly misgendered. It wears on you over the years regardless of how chill and outgoing you are.
  • 10 7
 @mm732: well said. very.
  • 26 35
flag TheSuspensionLabNZ (Mar 22, 2021 at 22:38) (Below Threshold)
 It’s not about being “woke”, just acknowledging the fact that people have pronouns and it’s time we learned them
  • 14 4
 @Curse-of-the-foot-long-sub: why on earth would anyone downvote a foot long sub?!
  • 11 7
 Kind of feels like they're after creating an issue/debate here, as you say, i don't think this thought was crossing anyone's mind until that part of the article.
Especially a bit odd as all are are the same, and it's specifically an article about women in mtb?

Don't even really take issue with it as you say, it's just a bit strange.

Would be nice to see some women's catagories in more freeride comps, and not on patronising dumbed down courses.
  • 7 4
 @alexsin: Downvoters of my previous comment- if you are ever in VT, USA, let's go ride Bolton Valley and have some beers!
  • 39 0
 I want to whip like Vinny Armstrong
  • 4 0
 So good. I could watch that on a loop
  • 33 0
 This is so rad, @monsroyale! Way to step up and make a difference.
  • 10 0
 Cheers @lordjord, we hope that one day you too might land a backflip...
  • 6 0
 What this guy said. Bad ass they're helping support the lady shredders and they do make the best gear. I've got 2 of their merino jerseys and they're easily the best shirts I own (biking or not as my wife would say).
  • 5 0
 @jackalope: Thank's mate, stoked to hear we have a few fans out in North Carolina. You ride in a different climate than where we're based (Wanaka, Squamish & Innsbruck), if you've ever got performance or product feedback for your neck of the woods we'd love to hear it.
  • 17 0
 What planet did they dig up to get the dirt for that landing?!
  • 19 0
 That lake.... it wasn't there before....
  • 10 0
 This is awesome.

@monsroyale if you're listening, please for the love of all that is pure and holy bring back the Icon Merino T-Shirt in black with no logo on it, like you had a year or two ago.

It is my favorite shirt in the world, and I want to buy 5 of them and throw away all my other T-shirts and undershirts.
  • 14 0
 We might be able to rustle something up for you... Shoot an email to orders@monsroyale.com and we'll see what we can do.
  • 4 0
 @monsroyale: you guys rock!. So cool to see how far above and beyond you go to help everyone enjoy the benefits of merino and the sport.
  • 22 13
 I've been mountain biking for a long time and I've never seen any man anything other than thrilled to see a woman/girl/? biking. I'm not sure what the "barriers" are supposed to be or have been.
  • 3 31
flag sebair97 (Mar 22, 2021 at 17:44) (Below Threshold)
 thrilled for what..the opportunity to get in their baggies
  • 12 5
 I'd genuinely hope no one in their right mind would be 'against' women riding. The barriers are a lot more subtle.
  • 6 2
 @sebair97: I can think of only one instance in which that was true for me. Beside the coolness-factor, the appreciation of a new element in the ride, the simple enjoyment of women's company, seeing women mountain biking opened up the possibility of finding a wife/partner/girlfriend/whatever with whom you could share this passion in your life.
  • 21 21
 The fact that you don't know what the barriers are is exactly why women arn't in the sport
  • 41 3
 I went to register my daughter for her first enduro race last year (she was 13 years old) and she didn't have a category. There was U15 MEN, U19 MEN, U29MEN, U49 MEN, 50+MEN and Amateur women. Thats a barrier. When I reached out to the series organizer, the race promoter and the venue to ask each of them, "where's the girls category?" I didn't get a response from any of them and that's a barrier. I was confused but I registered her for the boys category anyway and finally got in touch with the series director after she finished the race and asked about a U15 Females or U19 Females category and was given a boatload of reasons why they don't offer that. "Enduro is hard, dangerous, it's a long day ..." Another barrier. I hope you get the point. After some pressure and even some financial support, the series agreed to open a U19 Females cat mid-season and this year we started a team because just opening the category isn't going to magically give girls the confidence to enter the sport when the mindset for years is that it's too hard. Our team (and it's the first U19 Females Enduro team in the Mid-Atlantic) is hoping to do at a very small grassroots level what these women are doing at the elite level of the sport and I'm guessing the barriers are similar.
  • 16 4
 @Georgops: And when you try to register a girl in a boys catagory, the barrier is "boys and girls shouldn't compete together" . There are layers upon layers of barriers against girls and women and for me, it wasn't readily apparent till I had a daughter.
  • 9 11
 @Georgops: Thank you for an answer that's actually an answer. But maybe it's not so much a "barrier" than a function of so few girls 13 and under wanting to do an enduro race. As for the rest, it reads to me like as soon as you made an effort you go what you wanted within what was possible. I mean, we can't expect an under 13 category for one person. But if people are determined to see sexism etc there's little that'll change their minds.
  • 8 6
 @VelkePivo: now imagine that scenario looking for equipment that fits, for group rides, for representation in media, etc
  • 13 6
 @BermSmasher408: I dunno, I just don't see such things as "barriers." They're the normal inconveniences and small difficulties we all experience in life.
  • 7 7
 @VelkePivo: The "function" you are referring to is a result of the barriers you are not seeing. You have the cause / effect relationship backwards here.
  • 7 5
 @VelkePivo But when others experience noticeably more "inconveniences" in life, which are avoidable, wouldn't those be some sort of impeding device that makes it more difficult for someone other than yourself to be equally involved in an activity? Like a barrier?
  • 10 8
 @pcledrew: Impediments are hardly barriers. And it seems to me you and others are suggesting sexism as the cause of those impediments. Again I'll say I've never witnessed any man as anything other than neutral at the worst, and more commonly, enthusiastic, to see women/girls in mountain biking. Have you? And people who are inconvenienced in one area of life may be advantaged in others. Life/reality is complex. Be slow to impute bad intent/prejudice/sexism.
  • 14 7
 @VelkePivo: the fact that your only conception of a barrier to women in male dominated sports is “sexism” is evidence that you’re so far off the mark you’ll likely never understand. But let me try to spell it out for you.

An example:
Well intentioned, kind, caring people can do things like not have a category for young women because that’s never been a category they’ve had to create. They’re only doing things out of habit, history, lack of perceived demand etc.

They’re not intentionally harming anyone. They’re not to be blamed.

That said, to the one or many potential young female or other self identified athletes who feel they have no place in an event, this is a loud and clear message that they in fact do not belong.

Kind of like a barrier.

Hence why barriers need to be proactively identified and removed even if they are unintentionally created.

Please stop arguing against progress or change.
  • 13 4
 @VelkePivo: You can have barriers without malicious intent. I dont think anyone is suggesting that men are overtly restricting women from participating in the sport due to sexist attitudes. Never the less, established practices and attitudes can have unintentional barriers for women and girls. Wether the patronizing staff at a bike shop or the inability to register in a race for a teenage girl. There are very simple solutions that can make for a more inclusive environment.

No ones to blame, but there's still a problem.
  • 6 4
 @pcledrew: @CamTakacs: "established practices and attitudes can have unintentional barriers for women and girls"

Kind of like NICA allowing biological males to compete in their female divisions?

"5.7.B.1 NICA and its leagues are committed to providing all students
with the opportunity to participate in these events in a manner
consistent with their gender identity."

Since we are talking about barriers to women in sports, lets talk about making biological females compete against biological males in the female divisions.
  • 3 3
 @pcledrew: "Please stop arguing against progress or change" It's your definition of progress, other people have their own definitions of progress. We are all free to debate/argue are own definition of societal progression. That is the definition of progress.
  • 7 3
 @VelkePivo: @VelkePivo: That is precisely what "barriers" look like, sure it isn't an overt attempt to block certain people from an event, but if a young girl looks at an entry list and doesn't even see a place for her then she won't want to enter. Its a 2-way street, industries need to show that they want those people to be included so then girls (or other minorities) can feel like its OK for them to enter
  • 3 3
 @carters75: Ya, its a difficult conversation. Women get a raw deal on so many fronts.
  • 12 1
 This is guaranteed stoke. Great idea!
  • 7 1
 Cheers @OneUpComponents, we're pumped for what comes next...
  • 6 0
 So good to see and inspirational for the next generation of kids coming through as well! Really proud to see this happening here in NZ. I already live in Mons gear (skiing, biking, tramping, climbing, sifting....its the best) and stoked to see them backing this on top of their extensive grassroots stuff (my 10 yo daughter rode at an all women's race just this weekend that they were also backing....) Ka pai!!!!
  • 13 4
 Good thing you included their pronouns, PB.
  • 8 7
 hope your joking
  • 15 8
 @p-m-z: 100% sarcasm! With so many woke white knights in the PB comment sections these days, can't say I blame you for wondering.
  • 8 0
 The future of women's freeride and riding in general looking hella bright!
  • 6 0
 The Kiwis are showing the world how its done! Again! So awesome! In the meanwhile kids have to fight for small dirt lines in Germany.
  • 5 0
 This is awesome. That backflip is awesome. More women in biking is awesome. More people in biking is awesome. Inclusiveness is awesome. Let's just all be excellent to each other.
  • 7 0
 Awesome. Vinny looking casual with the air hangtime there Cool
  • 6 0
 Vinny's got some of the sickest whips out there. Period.
  • 7 1
 Awesome I wished the video was longer!
  • 7 1
 @madmon, stay tuned for more update... Robin Goomes just put a backy to dirt...
  • 2 0
 @monsroyale: ya nothing like being schooled by someone like Katie Holden she did it to me with a short travel XC bike 8 years ago! The backflip was killer something I have never done.
  • 6 3
 Aside from the identity stuff here... I would really like to the opportunity to attend a MTB camp. Sounds like fun, and would certainly improve my skills and confidence. Any one know of one on the east coast?
  • 4 1
 Highland MTB park does a great camp for kids as well as adults (I’ll be going back for round 2 this year), and Ladies All Ride has several all female camps on the east coast as well. The wife is going to the kingdom trails one this year. I’m sure there’s more but that should get you started!
  • 4 0
 Hey Robin you were talking about doing backflips on Dream, on Sunday. I asked you what your name is so I could look out for you on Pinkbike. That didn't take long! Classsic
  • 8 6
 Yay so stoked for this!! Also love the inclusion of pronouns! While most femme-identifying individuals probably use she/her, some might prefer they/them or others and that's totally okay! Can't wait to see coverage of this; send it for the rest of us ladies!
  • 5 0
 yeah kelsey!!!! stoked for you!
  • 5 0
 Goomes has crazy potential, remember her riding/racing BMX years ago.
  • 3 0
 This is such a great event, i hope mons royale continues to sponsor events like this.
  • 4 0
 Check out Jess Blewitt on Istagram. Serious shredder
  • 2 0
 At last! Those kiwis are starting the most important sign of evolution in the mtb world...I have been waiting so long to see that...
  • 4 0
 Radness
  • 4 0
 This is sick!!
  • 4 1
 I love this so much! Those ladies rip!
  • 6 4
 No excuses for assuming the incorrect pronoun. I think I might have guessed it though.
  • 4 1
 Can't wait to see Ellie frontie the mulch on a MTB!
  • 3 0
 Yeah her nitro circus stuff is sure to set the bar pretty high. Ellie for prime Minister
  • 2 0
 Yess! Nothing more to say here ????
  • 4 2
 YES more of this please!
  • 4 4
 Please break the barrier! We need to reward and respect female riders as equal competitors
  • 2 0
 Rad
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