When professional snowboarder Chanelle Sladics and four-time Olympian Kjersti Buaas set out to launch a snowboarding contest, they had one question on their minds: Why were so many women getting hurt?
"We hadn't looked at our own sport. Why is it that 80 percent of the injuries we're seeing happen to women?" asks Chanelle Sladics. "I was like, ‘Let's dive into this on a scientific level; let's make our own contest.’"
As the jumps on contest courses get bigger and bigger every year, they tend to be designed for the body structure and mass of male competitors. In response to a survey spearheaded by pro skier Kristi Leskinen comparing the top men and women on the World Snowboard Tour, one thing became abundantly clear to the duo: The high number of female injuries could be avoided simply by changing the course design.
Sladics and Buaas invited a handful of riders to help design a slopestyle course that would minimize potential speed issues, so athletes could pull off their maneuvers with less of a chance of getting hurt. They named the event Community Cup, and it's the first rider-designed, zero-waste snowboarding event in the world.
"I wanted to have the course ready on Monday for a contest on Friday to give the riders a lot of time with the course," Sladics says. "But they were all flying in from these Olympic contests the night before. I was like, 'Gosh darn it!' But the coolest part was seeing everyone's second run, and they're doing rodeos and all these moves and I just thought, ‘Holy sh*t. It worked.’ It was the coolest practice to watch."
The duo documented the event for “Community Cup,” a film that will debut Dec. 14 and make its way online after. It goes into the minds of 16 Olympians to tackle topics like style, rebounding from injury, the art of snowboarding, and, of course, sustainability.
"I'm really passionate about sustainability," says Sladics, "So I knew I had to make this the most sustainable event ever done. I wanted to show with these bigger events that it's not that difficult to execute."
In addition to live music and nonprofit integration, Community Cup hosted an eco-education village, where guests sipped from stainless steel bottles and reusable glass straws from Simply Straws, a company Sladics founded with her family. Banners and bibs were printed with eco-friendly materials, and registration was totally digital to cut down on paper waste.
"The cool thing is that consumers are starting to ask for this. They're wondering why there's trash everywhere—why banners aren't made with eco-friendly ink," she says. "It's about making this a predominant part of the conversation. I think the bigger events will start snagging some of our ideas, and that's awesome. Caring is becoming cool."
Sladics says that as an athlete, she feels a responsibility to take care of her fellow riders as well as the planet, both huge influences in the design of Community Cup.
"Just in the last 10 years, I've seen the snowpack change so much," she says. "I think we have a duty living off the mountains; I feel like I have a responsibility to protect that."
To learn more about Community Cup and for documentary updates, check out community-cup.com.
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