Please Make Space | Introducing The Northwave and Drake Women’s Team

Meeting the latest team of ladies taking the industry by storm

Debuts are hard. Whether it’s releasing music, dropping a film, starting a new job or even meeting people for the first time you have to strike a delicate balance between representing your authentic self and appealing to an audience.

Some go for glory and end up falling painfully short, Genesis for instance- who went on to become a great band for sure, but had a shitty first album (you can quote me on that one). On the flip side you’ve got The Sex Pistols’ greatest (and only) studio album ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”. It was an incredible first release- it had a genuinely different and unique feel, a display of raw talent that captivated audiences and the songs were interwoven with incendiary political statements that allowed listeners to question the world around them and their connection to it through music.

“These ladies are teeming with talent, hungry for success and always ready to throw down”

Recently, the newly formed Northwave and Drake women’s team dropped their first short edit- PMS (Please Make Space), an ode to women in snowboarding and the need for the industry as a whole to support the movement. We got the same trio of box ticking as we had with the Pistols, a debut movie that was genuinely impressive, totally culturally relevant and able to stand out easily amongst the barrage of content anyone with a smartphone has on tap 24/7.

Just like Mr Rotten and Co. these ladies are teeming with talent, hungry for success and always ready to throw down, (but we hope we get more than one release out of this lot). We rated PMS, so much so that we knew we had to chat to the team to find out some more about them and their debut project.

Paula Crushing It | PC: Igor Swieczak

Introducing the Drake and Northwave women’s team; Paula Benito, Sophia Schroll, Federica Scampoli, Veroniqi Hanssen, Lia-Mara Bösch, Fanny Piantanida, and their filmer/ Team Manager Chiara Grisorio.

You may have seen some of these ladies in various projects or comps, and some may be strangers to you just now, but these women won’t be flying under the radar anymore. We’re on the cusp of a cultural shift where it just isn’t acceptable anymore for snowboarding to be a boys club, as Chiara put it so well, “We come to shine light on all those who have put us behind the spotlight, those who have ignored us at photoshoots, contests, parks and wherever there was an event.”

“There were so many bad ass women out here in Europe”

As is unfortunately the way with many things, PMS and the NW/Drake Women’s Division were years in the pipeline before they finally came to fruition, but the old adage goes ‘good things come to those who wait’. A lot of things have to fall in place to make a snowboard movie, and eventually the conditions were just right for this girl gang to strut their stuff.

Northwave/Drake Global Team Manager and Rusty Toothbrush ripper Alex Stewart had started spitballing the idea with Chiara for a women’s team 3 years ago. Chiara reminisces “We were looking for someone out in the US so we could build more hype around the brand but we both realised how stupid we were. There were so many bad ass women out here in Europe!”

Federica, Veroniqi and Sophia

So, the search for talent in Europe began and they struck gold, their current team reps Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, with nothing but time to collect more gems across the continent.

“Our good friend Aleix Calderon introduced us to Paula Benito and told us she didn’t have a sponsor, or better, they were only giving her boards and we were like: WHAAAAT??? She is literally the most stylish boarder out there! Let’s get her on the team. Same with Sophia [Schroll]. We saw Sophia lapping non-stop in Zermatt so I went up to her and asked if we could film her.”

“PMS is a call to arms, and not just to the women of Europe”

As Northwave signed Veroniqi, Paula, Sophia and Federica, with Chiara behind the lens the work on their first project began. Filmed through Veneto, Les Deux Alpes and Zermatt, PMS is a call to arms, and not just to the women of Europe, but of the entire snowboard scene. Make space for us, because we’re not here to mess around.

Meet The Team

A veteran of the Dutch dome scene, it’s no surprise Veroniqi Hanssen’s bread and butter is tech rail manoeuvres and she recently scooped the Best Style award at Kaunertal’s opening weekend. Riding for over a decade, and spending her winters throughout Europe and the States, honing her craft in the streets and between the park ropes.

Though she’s hyped to be a part of a team that recognizes diversity in snowboarding, Veroniqi knows there’s still a ways to go, “We need more women in all aspects of this industry: female photographers, filmers, writers, team managers etc. Snowboard companies really should take a look at not only their Pro and AM teams but also the designers and all of their other staff and review if they are paying men and women equally.”

Veroniqi Stylin’ It Out | PC: Federico Grego

Who does she look up to in snowboarding? That’s a no brainer for her: “Kelsey Boyer for turning her own terrifying head injury experience into a non-profit [Save A Brain] to support other people. Laura Rogoski and Darrah Reid for bringing attention to and opening up about mental health. Jess Kimura for supporting the next generation of women in street riding.”

Stacking footy in L2A

From the east coast of Italy, Federica Scampoli honed her skills at Panorama Park as a teenager but happily rides park, street and everything in between with a style unique to her. She filmed her clips for PMS at the world famous Les Deux Alpes, everyone’s favourite mecca for slushy laps in the summer.

It was Federica’s first time working with an all-female crew, but she hopes it won’t be the last “We had never met until we joined the team, but since that moment we built an immediate feeling. I have to admit that I was surprised in a good way that there has never been competition in our relationship.”

“I was surprised in a good way that there has never been competition in our relationship”

We asked Federica who should we be keeping an eye on in the next generation of girl shredders? “Without any doubt I go for Fanny [Piantanida], she’s only 16 years old and I think she has a great potential.”

Originally from Germany, Sophia aka Klaus now calls Innsbruck home. Arguably the creative hub of European snowboarding, it’s a melting pot of snow talent, jib kids and backcountry powder hounds alike flock to Innsbruck, there’s no place quite like it.

Queen of the Shovels

Sophia’s got one hell of a handplant up her sleeve, and is a maestro of hitting switch tricks. A team player through and through, the crew mark her out as the best shoveller at the spot. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Sophia in Surreal, another all-female snowboard movie dropping late this season.

“I actually wasn’t able to film the park stuff because I was 8 months pregnant”

Italian Chiara first delved into snowboarding after realising that skiing was for nerds, and like all of us, she was quickly hooked and began ripping at Bardonecchia on the regular. A woman who wears many hats, Chiara works closely with Northwave and Drake to develop the women’s gear side of things, plus filming and managing the new team.

Chiara wasn’t the only one who filmed the project, technically she had help from her daughter, India, the whole time. “We went back to my parents for Christmas and found out I was pregnant. Guess that made it way more interesting”… “I actually wasn’t able to film the park stuff because I was 8 months pregnant so I only did the street.”

Chiara aka The Boss

Where can Chiara see the NW/Drake women’s squad heading next? “We would like to team up with Dusan Kriz who is our backcountry “maestro” so he can give us a bit of insight on the whole thing. I think we haven’t seen many women in the backcountry because it is quite intimidating. It’s one of those areas where you need a good chunk of knowledge.” She’s also been brainstorming a docuseries and street trip through Europe with the team, so this may have been the first time you’ve seen them, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Overall, her message is clear “PMS is a call for women to get noticed” and she’s no longer shy about sticking up for women getting an equal slice of the pie, “If you see on the video “please” is crossed out cuz we don’t want to be too courteous.”

“Her hard charging style is reminiscent of early Forum crew riders”

Paula Benito, engineer by day, shredder… also by day. Spanish born Paula was one of the first women to get signed to NW&Drake’s women’s team after impressing the crew in Zermatt.

Paula Logging Some Hours on Board

She’s not afraid to hit any spot, any trick, any time. With stand-out parts in Two Vans, No Plans and PMS, Paula is definitely one to keep your eye on. A fearless rider with a über-technical flair, her hard charging style is reminiscent of early Forum crew riders, definitely don’t sleep on this one.

Inclusivity is just performative when it’s done to tick a box, Chiara puts it best when she said “I think it should be a global movement where everyone plays their part. It looks good on paper when you see names of women on a brands page but many are left on their own.” It’s an issue that affects us all, and we all have a part to play. At the end of the day, there is no easy answer or simple fix, things take time but we’re confident they’re moving in the right direction.

There’s no better proof of this than looking at the both longest-standing and most recent addition to the team who bookend a stacked roster. Lia-Mara Bosch, Northwave and Drake’s first woman team rider, has been faced with the challenges of multiple injuries over the last few seasons and unfortunately missed the window to get involved in filming with the crew but it hasn’t diminished her passion for it. “She’s a hell of a rider”, Chiara says. “Her coach from the [Swiss] national team told me what an insane rider she is and how obsessed she is with snowboarding.”

That passion runs deep in the team – right down to their youngest rider. Sixteen-year-old Fanny was signed just a handful of days ago but is quickly gaining the attention of her teammates. “Every time she gets on a rail I just froth out”, Chiara laughs, “I wish that was me!” The Italian rider is most likely to be found up in Les Deux Alpes in the winter, but she’s starting to show real prowess in the urban scene too, most likely down to her skating background. “I hope we can get her on a street trip” Chiara continues. “She’s down for any type of snowboarding.”

With a growing range of women’s products, and a team going from strength to strength, their debut may have hit it out of the park, but we’ve got a feeling the best is yet to come from the Northwave and Drake women’s division.

Diggin' It
Paula & Chiara
Sophia and Veroniqi
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