It’s taken a while – 69 issues to be exact – but Whitelines finally has a female rider on the cover. Why so long? To be honest, we hadn’t received a shot of a girl that was outstanding enough to warrant it. Not that this year in particular has seen female riding improve; for several winters now it’s been coming on leaps and bounds, thanks in a large part to filmmaker Josie Clyde and the ChunkyKnit crew. These girls realized that your average snowboard film – with its monster jumps and pervading atmosphere of hero worship – doesn’t leave the women much room to promote their skills. They could have moaned about being marginalized, but instead they did something positive. They created a movie outlet of their own and the rest, as they say, is history.
Still, it would have been nice to mark this shift earlier. According to the organizers of the AIM Series, girls make up around 20% of the field at any given snowboarding event – and have been for the last 5 years. They’re also a big part of the White Lines readership, and as I said before, have been killing it at a pro level for ages (just watch any footage of Jenny Jones, Cheryl Maas or Victoria Jealouse). The trouble is, cover shots don’t just appear when you want them to. If it was purely a case of finding a massive jump and sending some girl over it, things would be easy; these days there would be plenty of candidates for the job! More often than not, though, a cover shot isn’t about the size of the air, it’s about capturing a magical riding moment or seeing things from an unusual angle – hopefully stirring something in the person that picks up the mag. After nearly 70 issues, finding an original shot like this only gets harder, and there are a whole load of other considerations too, like whether the logo and text will fit in nicely, how big the rider is, and whether a similar type of picture (like a night shot) has been run in the same season. Ask any photographer and they will tell you that bagging a cover is as much about luck as it is skill: right place, right time.
Erin Valverde’s cover is a classic example. When you think about it, there’s nothing particularly gnarly about her powder turn. Girls have done jumps that are scarier – steeper lines even – but there’s something special about the lighting, the way the snow looks so stark against the shadowy trees and the Japanese night. If anything, the fact she’s ‘only making a powder turn’ makes the image more powerful. This could be you, it says, if you went ahead and booked that trip.
As if this wasn’t a suitable enough meeting of time and space, it turns out the photo was taken by another girl, Natalie Mayer, during filming for the latest ChunkyKnit movie. Sure it’s been a long time getting here, but you couldn’t hope for a more powerful statement.