Words by Annie Henmi
In its eighth year, the Sugar Showdown, presented by Sisters in Action Sports, is a three day event hosted at Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, Washington, where women of all ages (6 and up) come to learn how to progress their riding skills from cornering to drops to jumps to learning to crash safely.
Kat Sweet of Sweetlines is the creator and organizer of the Sugar Showdown. Sweet, being a former pro downhill racer, now competes as a pro jump competitor. Additionally, she has an extensive resume of hosting mountain bike summer camps and coaching all ages.
Kat Sweet clearing the final jump on Flying Squirrel. Photo: Russ Henmi
Today, Sweet also coaches two developmental youth mountain bike racing teams: Sweetlines Junior Racing and Sweetlines Gravity Team. Kat is currently racing downhill this season in CAT 1.
Kat Sweet and the Sweetlines Junior Race Team watching the novice and amateur runs. Photo: Russ Henmi
The first day of the Sugar Showdown is a meet and greet, followed by a trivia night presented by Clif Bar. Additionally, participants with the coaches and have an optional crash course. This includes learning the North Shore Dismount and how to tuck and roll safely, both with and without the bike. Kat Sweet brought out a crash pad to practice the techniques.
Kat Sweet teaching the author how to tuck and roll with the bike. Photo: Shanna Powell
The second day is the skills clinic, Kat Sweet and her professional coaches provide the coaching and help each participant hone their skills. Each group of 6-8 ladies is broken down by their skill level (novice and amateur) and brought together to rotate through the coaches.
Participant in the amateur group rolling the first drop in Voodoo Child. Photo: Russ Henmi
The third day is the competition: every participant can compete in a no-pressure event where you are grouped by novice, amateur, semi-pro, and pro. The novice and amateur categories run two competition laps on Voodoo Child, then the competitors ran a lady train through Voodoo Child, from the youngest to the oldest of the competitors.
Leah McCartney launching the middle drop on Voodoo Child. Photo: Russ Henmi
MsFits rider, Thea Ruckhaus hitting the wall ride on Voodoo Child. Photo: Russ Henmi
Stace Cooper on her winning run on Voodoo Child. Photo: Russ Henmi
After the novice and amateur competition runs, Kat leads a lady train of all the novice and amateur competitors down an easy pace lap on Voodoo Child to get some lunch before watching the pros and semi-pros. During the lunch time, the youngest ones run their competition on the Luna Tables.
The semi-pros took their competition to the Flying Squirrel run. Here they hit the upper section gap jumps and throwing some style in.
Laura Delong launching a jump in the semi-pro competition. Photo: Russ Henmi
Jetta Porter, aka “Jetta Shredda,” showing everyone solid air time. Photo: Russ Henmi
For this year, the Sugar Showdown pro competition was an FMB Bronze Event and part of the women’s slopestyle tour. The pros finish up the competition on lower Flying Squirrel, showing their skills.
The pro competition is also the first stop on the Women’s Slopestyle Tour along with Little Big in Truckee, CA and the Big White Invitational in Kelwona, BC.
The top five finishers from the pro competition:
1. Stephanie Nychka, Canada
2. Ming Goetz, USA
3. Julia Lofqvist Traum, USA
4. Chelsea Kimball, USA
5. Kialani Hines, USA
For the complete list of the competition results, click here
Ming Goetz with a clap heard through the forest. Photo: Annie Henmi
Stephanie Nychka with the winning run and a backflip. Photo: Russ Henmi
Julia Lofqvist Traum’s tuck no hander. Photo: Russ Henmi.
Lauren Heitzman flying high. Photo: Annie Henmi
Amy Shenton with a solid whip. Photo: Russ Henmi
Cortney Knudson, Organizer of The Little Big, with a one hander. Photo: Russ Henmi