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Uninvited Invitational: Was this the Best Contest of the Winter?

Recap of the all-female and non-binary comp, which took over Woodward in Park City recently.

A missed invite, a couple of beers and a snap decision to request days off with no notice, secure a visa and drive 12 hours down from where I live in Canada to the United States led to one of the best weekends of our lives.

The all-female and non-binary Uninvited Invitational, in our humble opinion, was the best snowboarding event of 2024. 70 of the best snowboarders from around the globe took to the stage in Woodward park city on one of the best park builds we’ve seen for a while. Strapped in, buckled up and generally holding on for dear life we tried to capture some of the magic of this special event as riders threw down for a slice of a $55k prize purse.

Welcome Dinner
Rocking up to the Skullcandy HQ riders were greeted with a wholesome evening of friendship bracelets, meat flowers, photoshoots, beer, skating and a welcome speech from the queen herself, Jess Kimura. The vibes were high before Kennedi Deck was surprised with the cover of issue 4 of Garage Magazine, with a banger photo shot by none other than Desiree Melancon. It’s fair to say that that photo kicked things up a gear for the rest of the night and got people hyped to hit the snow and the steel for day one of qualifiers.

We caught up with a grom who had secured a wildcard entry and had the most infectious energy. Stoked doesn’t begin to describe Jess Perlmuter, and having heard the lines she had already envisioned for the course (back lip on the down-flat-down and a front board pretzel the wallride) she was firmly on our watch-list.

Kennedi Deck (right) is presented with a framed version of their Garage Magazine cover by rider and photographer Desiree Melancon (left) Photo: Mary Walsh

Day 1
The event kicked off with two days of jam-format qualifiers, some might have expected people to scope-out the course a little more, but hammers started being thrown from the whistle blow. Kennedi Deck was one of the first to step up to the batting cage (AKA Nicholas Cage) and opened up the door for the feature which became a staple of most riders lines for the rest of the weekend.

Whispers of a “14 year old wunderkind” from the welcome dinner quickly turned to shouts of “holy shit, did you see that?” everytime Jess Perlmuter dropped. It was no surprise she took home a cheque for day one standouts alongside Annika Morgan, Ellie Weiler and Nora Beck.

The event ended at 2pm and, it being our first time gracing the promised land of Woodward (Honestly, pinch me. I’ve been dreaming of being here since I was 14) we had to head for a few laps ourselves. A few laps accidentally turned into four hours of ear-to-ear grins, slushy slashes and fun progression on the most perfect park resort imaginable. We weren’t the last of the uninvited to leave though. On almost every lap we saw the UK’s own Mia Langridge putting in solo laps and dialling it in all evening. No mean feat after hiking and hitting the course in blazing sunshine all day and she wasn’t exactly cruising the small features like us.

Day 1 Standout Ellie Weiler. Photo: Sara Previte
Katie Kennedy with a classic method. Photo: Ellie Nixon

Day 2
I’ll admit that, after arriving at the course with a fresh cup of tea on day 2 I looked around and wondered… what’s left that’s not been done? I was certain there were a few big’uns being stowed away at the bottom of the proverbial trick bag. But surely they were being kept for finals, and with no course changes how were riders going to stay relevant for another day of qualifiers without burning out?

It’s fair to say I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Naima Antolin was a true artist at work, opening up new lines and hitting every feature in new ways. Opening up the transfer between the quarters and over the Uninvited sign on her first drop was a testament for things to come. Where some colour within the lines of a pattern, Nai rips off a blank sheet and creates something totally unique. The debate of art or sport is easy for Nai – Her riding is art incarnate.

Day two closed with a handplant that echoed across the valleys of park city and beyond. Watching Taylor Elliot ride is one of the most inspirational things you can do and never ceases to stoke the fire. To make a handplant that alluded many others all weekend look so effortless is a true testament to Taylors power as one of the quiet GOATs of the snowboard world. This one will go down in history.

Day two standouts where, unsurprisingly – Naima Antolin, Sophie Schroll (Klaus), Taylor Elliot & Novalie Engholm.

Taylor Elliot rattles the cage feature. Photo: Sara Previte

Envy is a funny thing, as is natural watching 70 of the best snowboarders in the world perform not just unbelievably technical tricks, but look effortlessly stylish in the process I found myself envious of their skills and wishing my snowboarding had a fraction of the steeze.

However there are a few people I absolutely did not envy – Jill Perkins, Marie France-Roy, Katie Cook, Melissa Riitano and Ylfa Rúnarsdóttir had the challenging role of whittling the pack down for finals. Not a decision I’d like to make as the calibre of riding from everyone was out of this world on both qualifying days.

But nonetheless, 35 stepped up to the plate for finals which would follow the same format as qualifiers, but with a fresh start and a clean slate. It was time showcase the bangers in the vault they’d been hoarding. (Yes I’m listening to Little Simz while I write this).

Katie Kennedy stood out today for me with a mega-method sent to the moon early-doors while the landing was still pretty punishingly hard pack. Her and Annika Morgan both seemed to have that secret formula for launching skyward but each with their own unique style. While Annika channels some of that Longo-esque magic to just appear in the sky, you can actually feel every fibre of Katie’s amplitude and tweak, it’s a full body style that isn’t hampered by a rut in the take-off, or a slam on the previous run. She’s going to reach the moon, look good doing it and there’s nothing you can do to get in the way.

Nata Sanchez feels the stoke. Photo: Sara Previte

Jubes Pelchat once again took home the “one to watch” award, if you’re not already watching what are you doing? Ya girl fucking rips. Speaking of riders to watch, Jess Perlmutter and Ellie Weiler both walked away with “Subaru Rookie” cheques.

As expected, the drip-queen herself Momo Fujikawa was awarded “best style”. Novalie Engholm bagged the baldface best air contest and earned herself a trip to snowboardings mecca. Emma Crosby took a well deserved award for “best air” while Jaylen Hanson won “best bail” – a tricky award, but if you’re gonna slam but you may as well get paid for it!

Annika Morgan earned “best trick” and Maddison Blackley landed “Best Heart”. Two award winners that surprised nobody were “Unleash the Beast” & “Most Creative” that went to Nora Beck and Naima Antolin respectively.

Which leads us onto the all important podiums:

5th Place – Livia Tanno
4th Place – Grace Warner
3rd – Jess Perlmutter
2nd – Iris Pham
1st – Telma Sarkipaju

The podium. Photo: Mary Walsh.

Standout Impressions & Highlights
Before we close things up there are few people and moments that deserve recognition.

Bri Delfs is a woman that fully embodies the spirit of this event. A charger on the snowboard but also a joyful, supportive and wonderful human being that makes time for everyone she meets. After two days of hard riding and hiking in the qualifiers she joined us for a couple laps to give us tips on handplants after hearing us mention we wanted to dial them in. You can take the instructor out of the class but you can’t take the class out of the instructor. Thank you Bri!

Nata, Klaus, Maija & the Northwave / Drake crew bring the raucous fun. It’s fucking rad to see a true team in snowboarding, this crew rolls deep and hype each other up for everything. Whether that’s killing it in the comp, crushing cans, or taking over the foam pit at Woodward their energy is infectious.

Maggie Leon & Jess Perlmuter – Everyone eats shit sometimes. That’s snowboarding, and when you’re going as big as Jess was, those falls fucking suck. But they also bring out some special moments, like watching Maggie Leon sprinting down from the top of the quarter to “go and hype Jess up” before she hiked for another lap.

It’s not something that you’ll find in other competitive sports, but this is the uninvited – a place for people to support each other and amongst all the craziness that went down over three days of competition, I think this is ultimately what speaks for the spirit of what Jess Kimura has created with this event.

Naima Antolin. Photo: Sara Previte


During the awards ceremony, Jess Kimura mentioned that when she was growing up, she always hoped that at least three girls signed up to competitions so that the podium could be filled. Fast forward to 2024 and you have 70 women from around the globe in a throng screaming their lungs out for their peers who take the stand and earn prizes. A special thanks to Jess Kimura, Nirvana Ortanez, Abby Furrer for all their hard work organising an amazing event

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