International Women’s Day may have come and gone, but Rick Bratman, CEO of ASA Entertainment, which runs Supergirl Pro, wants to make sure the adventure sports community is acknowledging women athletes on a consistent basis.
This year marks the 12th annual Supergirl Pro, a contest that started out with a few hundred interested spectators and a handful of dedicated female athletes, and has since evolved into a twice-a-year festival that expects to draw more than 130,000 fans, 400 riders and culminates in multiple-day surf and snow contests, workshops and live music performances.
But, most importantly, Bratman says the event represents “a platform rooted in female empowerment and providing opportunities for women where they were previously underrepresented or denied equal opportunities.”
This coming weekend at the Supergirl Snow Pro, Lindsey Jacobellis and Hannah Teter will act as hosts and inspirational leaders, helping to mentor and encourage the next generation of aspiring snowboarding pros. The event, which features a top-level Boardercross (SBX) and half-pipe competition, gives both professional and up-and-coming amateurs a place to showcase their skills and be recognized.
“It’s important to be a part of something that reaches out to our future shredders and ties competition in with fun,” says Teter. “When I was a kid I always enjoyed watching and trying to ride with the pros, it made me want to be better.”
Jacobellis echoes those sentiments: “Over the last ten years, we have seen a great jump in women’s snowboarding. SBX women are now racing on the same courses and pushing themselves with the guys. I cannot wait to see where the next generation will take it.”
Bratman, who says watching the Supergirl Pro vision come to life has been “a humbling, exhilirating experience,” downloads on event growth, adding future sports into the mix and why it’s message to young women is more important now than ever.
From a business perspective, how have you seen the event grow? Which companies in the action/adventure space have supported that growth?
The female empowerment platform and the way we provide opportunities for women in genres of activity where they are often still treated like second-class citizens really resonates with consumers and brands. Each year we identify areas where women deserve a bigger pulpit and we try to provide that stage for them.
Over the past few years we've added a concert series featuring emerging female artists, an all-female DJ competition, a female-driven esports contest, a female Hackathon, art classes, yoga classes, dance classes, fitness classes, fashion, beauty, VR, a female comedy showcase, and other elements that are relevant to Millennial women.
In 2018, we plan to bring on a female bouldering event and a film competition with top female producers, videographers and story tellers.
We've grown the series without any financial support from the action/adventure sports industries. These companies are wildly supportive of the idea and consistently comment about what an amazing event experience we provide consumers and athletes.
However, when it comes to participating as a business partner, that hasn't happened yet. We are currently engaged in discussion with two industry brands that seem genuinely interested in building a partnership after attending the event the past few years. I'm really encouraged by those discussions.
How did you land on Hannah and Lindsey for this year’s event? What does it mean for the event to have these women involved?
Our hosts need to be passionate, selfless people who truly believe in the mission behind this initiative and are willing to commit time and energy to the project.
In our 12 year history, we've only offered a host role to six female athletes in the surf, skate and snow industries, so that alone should indicate how seriously we take the partnership process.
Selecting Lindsey and Hannah as the event hosts was a no-brainer. Both of these incredible women are passionate about leaving a lasting legacy for women's snowboarding and want to ensure a clear path for success for the next generation of female snowboarders.
They fit perfectly with the mission behind the Supergirl Pro Series, so the conversations between us were really easy given the pre-existing philosophical alignment.
Lindsey has attended the Supergirl Surf Pro the past few years as a fan and participant in the celebrity surf contest, and became really connected to the idea of using this platform to help nurture and mentor young female athletes. She has been an amazing partner over the past 18 months as we’ve co-developed the ideas behind the Supergirl Snow Pro.
It's so important to the event's unique Pro-Am format to have Lindsey and Hannah front-and-center to provide even more incentive for the amateur riders to attend, especially during an Olympic year where both women have achieved so much success. It blows my mind that they have 7 Olympic Games between them and 3 Olympic medals – not to mention 19 X Games medals.
Talk about the mantra of empowering women athletes that Supergirl was founded on – how are you finding creative ways to drive that message this year?
We've found that the most important thing we can provide women is a platform to express themselves by doing what they're best at in a safe, supportive and non-toxic environment.
From there, the incredible performances that these women put on simply speak for themselves and make people take notice. In addition, we provide seminars and panel discussions for women to speak about ideas and topics that are important to them. We are always open to new ideas and new ways to empower women.
Why do you feel like this message is more important than ever?
It's always been important to support women's programs; however, given the current political climate, I believe it’s more critical than ever.
We've found that consumers and brands want to be part of something that is organic and committed long-term to supporting change. Because we've been a strong voice for women for 12 years, it makes building those relationships a bit easier and more natural.
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