• Chani Michaux at Oakley Girl Sessions 2010

I had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Since february 13th
when at the Sista Sessions in Mayrhofen, Noora Vihervaara came up to me and
invited me to the Oakley Girl Session in Ruka! Finland. Couldn't believe
it, as if I hadn't had enough excitement for the day. I knew that I had to
postponed my return to Argentina.
Finally those days arrived and I found myself in between bottles of perfume
in munich, when behind an isle I saw a red-hair with a purple billabong
jacket, had to be Viola Burnett from TTR. It was her! She was together with
Phillip Schulze, Bara Berdychova (photographer) and Lucka Zabranska (Roxy
rider). I was so relief to know I wasn't going to be alone in the long
series of flights. We all got on the Fokker 50 with excitement; a helix
private looking little plane that took us to the polar circle. Later that
evening, Noora welcome us to Ruka and took us to the luxurious apartments
and "home" for a weekend. Claire Frost was there already, sleeping after
her long journey from Tahoe.

1st Day - Checking out The Battery Park

Viola and Claire where already up when I did.. chilling, no need to hurry…
couching was at 2pm. Breakfast and by 12 we where off with Claire in search
of the park, that guessed wasn't far. When we entered the battery park,
there was a slight difference from that amazing park I saw in a video a
couple of weeks before: our spring friend the Slush; -"It has been raining
for at least a week, rare conditions for this time of the year"- said Noora
the night before. The jumps looked really good (mediums 12m and 10m pro 15m
and 12m) visibility wasn't good so we weren't very keen for them at first,
the jibbing lines after them were even better! flat rail, flat box, picnic
tables, down-flat-down, dance floor and flat-down box mm.. what a delight!
Run after run until our stomachs started to grrrrr.  Well.. time for a
subway then. Fast bites and went back for the couching at 2pm. Pekko and
Joel were our skilled couches, we did a couple of runs all together and an
interesting feature came up in the line. The last jump (10m), after the
jibbin line, was just the best one. Too bad we soon had to dodge bumps in
the inrun, but it wasn't as bad as the upper kickers that had already
turned suicidal. It was late already, so we sticked with jibbing. A bail in
the flat box wasn't quite a butt lifting and turned me into a penguin when
i had to walk. Unbelievable thing to happen on the first day. Yoga didn't
seem to help but the sauna definitely did loosen up the lower back and i
was a person again. Later on, we hit the bowling night but unfortunately we
were late and weren't able to play.

2nd day - Its so good to ride Ruka!

Today, no morning chilling, woke up early and went up with Luca and Claire.
The day was grey as the whole week was supposed to be. My bum was hurting
but the sauna made the difference, I highly recommend this finnish
tradition for blunt trauma. As we where riding and warming up, the pain
eased.. started jumping and by noon the sun started to sneak in between the
clouds. oh! what a bless! fulfilled with motivation had totally forgotten
about the pain. Luca started to hit the big kicker and I went after her. I
was so stocked because Im not used to such sizes. Despite how big it was,
it was so nice and so safe. This is the reason why I love contests; you get
to ride with people that pushes you, transmits confidence and helps
progression. During the afternoon, the mini contest took place in the small
line. Lucka, Bara, Claire and I went to photoshoot to a little drop in the
surroundings where I spent almost my last bit of energy. The girls where
thristy for shots and went water riding on the lake. The Rail Team Battle
was later on that evening so I went back and rest a bit.. hit the sauna and
some yoga for my back. At 7 we went up again with Claire and Viola. Late of
course, there was already a big mass of motivated girls hitting the jibbing
line in the rain. There were some sick outfits like the brides, hockey
players and stylish tightpanters hitting the 3 lines at the same time
(winners from norway). Apart from the outfits, there were some amazing
original stunts and definitely some alternative riding <-- Chani likes
this. We looked at each other with Claire and our eyes almost pop out from
the lack of stunts that we had planned. But we were already there so, lets
ride! As team Ethnics, Claire soon came up with an idea and decided to give
it a go. She was standing about in the middle of the butter box ( a.k.a
dance floor) and i went on it 50-50 and pushed myself from her hand and
spin all the way till the end, it came out pretty good. Later on, some
gunshots and then both lines at the same time. Motivated enough to run up,
we never expected to get anything but we did! A couple of shirts yeeeaah!
woop woop! The battle was over and we went back and hit the sauna a bit
more but this time the finnish way, oh god! that was intense heating.


3rd day  TTR day

9:30 the training started so we woke up even earlier today. Breakfast, some
yoga and off to the slopes.. the day was greyer than the ones before and as
if the rain wasn't enough, it was foggy. ah great! Lukily, I had Violas
light-lens A-frames, way better than my scratched dark lenses. Realized
their effectivity from just being able to see! The fog slowly went up
during the training and the qualifications began. Each rider had 2 runs and
there were only 8 spots for the final out of 30 girls. There were a lot of
really good riders, didn't think I was going to make it but I felt pretty
good on my first run and was between the top 8, yei!.. This year they had
live scoring which consisted of a computer at the begging of the course,
immediately updated with the scores. I really liked it, its cool to know
what the judges thought about your run right after it. I was 6th, then 7th
and then 8th, uff that was close.. last qualified but im in! Enni Rukajärvi
killed it showing us how she got really far this season. Neatest bs 5's and
cab 7's, long grabs and high off the big kicker! It was sick to see the
winner of the 2010 TTR World Tour live! Congrats Girl! Claire did her
signature trick fs 7 toe-edge, which I love and its just unbelievable! In
the finals, after my first run I was 5th and tried to do better by jumping
the second big kicker but I was waaaay too short, ha.. I would like thank
our spring friend Slushy for the soft landing :P The results were: Enni
(FIN) kicked our ethnic asses, Saana (FIN) did as well, just a bit softer
and Claire (GBR) was 3rd. Farther down I was so stocked with my 5th place.
I was really amazed by the finnish level of riding.. its crazy how they are
so good when their country has few and not very high mountains but let's
not forget that they are locals of an incredible park. On the ski category,
our jaws dropped every time the 8-year-old miniature rider, Kelly Sildary
went straight from behind us, trying to get enough speed for the big kicker
and spinning 7's in the air.. just unbelievable. Not hard to believe, she
won. The night came alone and we where all invited for dinner where the
Hollywood party was going to be. As ethnics, we were normally dressed and
felt like we were watching the oscars on TV.

Over all and from the point of view of a event organizer as well, I had big
expectations from the event. But Noora did a great job and my expectations
where left behind by miles as soon as I got there. Treated like queens,
amazing shaped park every day (despite the conditions), super cool and
patient couches, prices and surprices for everybody, alternative activities
like fear and visualization workshops, bowling night, subways and drinks,
Hollywood party…can you ask for more?? I really look up to Noora for what
she has accomplished, Im so thankful to her for giving me the chance to
enjoy this delighted-super fun weekend and for helping the progression of
female snowboarding. I know this went a bit far with the writing but I just
couldn't not mention all this. Im already on my way back home crossing the
pond but really hoping to come back next year.

Kiitos Noora, Moi Moi Ruka!
12Photos: Viola Burnett