Sunday, May 31, 2009

June's Featured Rider: Stephanie Nychka

Stephanie Nychka is one of those riders who’s simply inspiring. She’ll hit jumps and stunts with the same confidence and aggression as the pro guys, and she bounces back from setbacks and injuries a stronger rider than ever. She created and produced the two SlopeSistair women’s slopestyle events in 2005 and 2006, and is in the midst of preparations for the 3rd SlopeSistair, which will be held at The Ranch in Grand Junction, CO on August 28-30, 2009.--FF

Name: Christina Stephanie Danya Nychka
Hometown: Beaverlodge, Alberta
Current Residence: Seattle, WA
Age: 29
Favorite type of riding: Slopestyle, A-Line-ish trails
Why you ride: The progression in this sport is unlike any other I've ever experienced, and being good can happen as easily as you allow it. And it feels good to be good at the sports you love! My development as a rider has been proportional to my love for riding. It makes me smile big.
Sponsors: Transition, Dakine, Five Ten, Skull Candy, Smith Optics, OGIO

I went to university to play volleyball, but ended up living with roommates who rode bikes, which is how I was introduced to riding. I met my fiancé, Joel, while riding during that time. After we were engaged, he began chiropractic school and I moved to Europe to play volleyball professionally. While I was there, he passed away suddenly and I was completely uprooted. The only thing I knew to do was finish what we began together, so I transferred to the chiropractic college he had attended in Minneapolis. There was nowhere to ride though--bikes or boards--and I needed that release. I moved to Whistler and took 8 months off of school to ride bikes and to organize SlopeSistair.

It was during that break that I knew I wanted to be a chiropractor for the right reasons—for myself, and because I love being able to give back to sports and athletes. Since I graduated, I’ve become involved events around Seattle, and have been traveling a lot to work with athletes—and firefighters, policemen, and other professionals. I love my job!

I raced bikes for a couple of years starting in 2000. I rode for, and even though I didn't like the intensity and pressure very much, I did fairly well, finishing 2nd overall in the 2002 Canada Cup series. I wasn't a smooth rider, but I wasn't scared of much. Prioritizing my skills has definitely changed a bit since!

I gravitated towards slopestyle because it was a combination of so many other disciplines: speed control, fluidity, style, yet it was unique for its absence of a clock. I love the challenge and adrenaline and risk that goes into hitting big jumps and drops. I prefer Boneyard-style jumps and drops—the one-hit, choose-your-own-adventure trails. Your personality and riding style are mirrored in your flow and feature preferences, no two riders ever look the same.

I think the most important riding skill is so basic—and something I didn’t learn how to do until two years ago. One of my favorite people to ride with taught me how to work the trail, how to pump the terrain and use the bike’s suspension. It looked sexy when he did it, and it made me feel sexy once I learned how to do it! I still have a ways to go and its something I probably should have learned first, but better now than never, right?

I’m a more confident rider now, and I know it’s a skill that will transfer to every aspect of riding whether it be dirt jumping, xc, slopestyle or downhill. Whistler`s Crank It Up trail is a fantastic place to practice. Bottom line: Go back to the basics--BMX & pumptracks are the best places to learn how to handle a bike.

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