It’s a position on the mountain that through the years of free-style snowboarding has been plagued with male-only dominance; park crew. VNTRbirds’ team rider, Cat Nicol, came to Quattro Snowpark Obergurgl in Ötztal Tyrol, Austria to challenge that statistic. Accompanied by her colleague, Sarah Abelin, they created an all-girl park crew and created features that not just challenged riders, but were fun to ride by everyone. This position taught her strength not just in her riding, but also by physical labor and hours put into digging and shaping the terrain parks.


Sarah (left) and Cat (right) showing off their tools for the camera

What was your main position at ‘QParks’?
Shaper & Multi-Media. My main duty was to be in charge of the social media updates of our park as well as being a shaper making sure everything was looking neat and rideable everyday.

 How was it to be apart of an all female park crew? Tell us about Sarah.
Sarah Abelin was the Park Designer. We both had a good working mindset on and off the mountain. And we kept to a good working system when we were doing our commute everyday. We would always agree whenever we had to build new or change up the layout and find the right time to do it. It was refreshing to change some features around and make it more rewarding for ourselves.

Sarah is strong-minded with a great attitude. She’s super motivated and a great translator haha 🙂 No matter what she will get down to work!

Sarah dropping some lines out of the park

Sarah dropping some lines out of the park

Did you find that you had respect from the mountain goers or some woman-haters?
We had a lot of positivity from everyone who came into our park. Everyone was beyond stoked to have a decent park at his or her doorstep. We had a lot of respect from the riders and instructors who worked and used our park everyday. Even when we changed something up or if we were digging out for days on end, everyone seemed to have our backs.


Cat testing out her freshly shaped jump

What really challenged you working at Quattro?
The lollipop and rainbow rail were probably the most fun but also challenging features to put in when we were constructing the park especially when we had to make sure the approach was exactly spot on. Judging speed on these features was always tough.

Another thing about being a shaper is you have to test a lot of the features and jumps to make sure you always land in the perfect spot. It can be a lot of trial and error, but that’s how it goes. Park flow is another important part about the job that can be a challenge. In order to make a good layout you have to have a good consistent flow and to make sure every feature fits in its right place.

Then there’s a lot of communication between the Pisten Bullies and us too. Sarah did a superb job with that and translating a lot for me. It was such a great help.

Other challenges we faced as shapers is when you know it’s going to dump with a lot snow and you predict you will have a lot of work to do the next day. When the snow is fine and dry it’s ok to shovel out, but when it’s heavy and wet it’s a burden. Taking us nearly 3-4 hours of straight digging for the whole park. If we were to change some features like a down rail, the hardest part was trying to dig out the metal spikes that stable the rail and you have to use an ice pick to hack away at the thick ice below and that is a work out!

Damn, sounds like a ton of work. What would you do for some R&R?
My first impressions on Austria were that there was a lot of Schnapps and Schnitzels and let’s not forget the Après ski parties. I also liked to focus on my artwork and do anything in nature. Anything that is nature based and outdoors then I’m happy!


What was some of your favorite moments working with QParks?
We had to prep the park for a bunch of different events. A favorite being an all girls event sponsored by Burton Girls for chicks looking to outshine and progress their riding all in one day. All while taking in the surroundings of what this park had to offer. It was a great success and everyone enjoyed the layout of the park and respected our work in maintaining for this event. Check it out in the video! And click here for more information on the shred sessions.

Burton Girls presents: Girls Shred Sessions from QParks on Vimeo.

All in all it was an eventful season with learning a new position on the mountain and being hard working shapers. We managed to have great success at our job. GIRL POWER! Having the role to be in charge, while flexible to continuously remake the park, then strong to lift heavy obstacles, carrying multiple shaper tools and commuting to the mountain everyday to open and reshape. Life was not bad and goes to show two strong lassies can do it!


Stay tuned for when the tables get turned for Cat and she finds herself as the only girl on an all-male park crew in Part 2!

More from Cat:
Cat’s Cali Road Trip
Cat’s Cali Road Trip Part II