Marie Martinod's "Air Ladies": an event about generosity, happiness and feminine freestyle skiing.

Thursday the 6th of March 2014 was held in Tignes the spotlight event of the season for all those, ladies and gentlement, that love skiing in the most happy sense: The “Air Ladies”, co-organized by Tignes resort and the Olympic Vice-Champion in Ski Half Pipe Marie Martinod, with Wed’ze as a partner. An event cut out by and for the freestyle female riders, as a tribute to their friend and pioneer of female freestyle skiing Sarah Burke, and which goal was to raise funds for the Sarah Burke Foundation. A happy moment, full a shared emotions and sensations, under the affectionate watch of Gordon Burke, Sarah’s father, and about 7000 people in the public. And a very nice moment of freestyle skiing, despite the tiredness of the competitions and the jet lag.


Marie Martinod and her silver medal at the opening night of the Air Ladies, with Sarah watching over ©Tignes/Tristan Shu
Marie Martinod and her silver medal at the opening night of the Air Ladies, with Sarah watching over
©Tignes/Tristan Shu


A Quarter Pipe; female freestyle riders; 1 euro for each centimeter above the coping; a pour chaque centimètre d’envol au-dessus du coping; all funds raised donated to the Sarah Burke Foundation. Here are the simple ingredients of the “Air Ladies” which revealed, for its first edition, the generosity of the female freestyle riders, on skis as well as in life, and firstly that of Marie Martinod, who had managed to gather for the occasion a completely incredible team.


Just imagine the best female freestyle riders gathered for a few days to celebrate their love for the sport, for others and for life. That’s how we ended up meeting on this particular Thursday the Bronze Medallist in Ski Half Pipe at the Sotchi Olympics, the Japanese Ayana Onozuka, along with the incredible Grete Eliassen (USA), who greatly participated in making of female freestyle skiing the great discipline it is today, Anaïs Caradeux (FRA), Virginie Faivre (SWI), Dania Assali (CAN), Keltie Hansen (CAN), Angeli Vanlaanen(USA), Emilie Cruz (FRA), as well as the snowboarder Clemence Grimal (FRA).


Furthemore, they were all reunited for a good cause : raise funds for the Sarah Burke Foundation, set up by her husband after she disappeared, so as to continue her lifetime work. Sarah deeply loved freestyle skiing and wished to share it with the largest number, by organizing girls ski camps for example, to initiate a maximum of girls to that sport she believed in, or by fighting so that competitions would integrate feminine categories. The Foudation that wears her name today uses the funds raised to continue organizing those girlie ski camps, give scholarships to young athletes so they can achieve a professional sports career, so that feminine freestyle skiing, and sports in general, go on living.


The Quarter Pipe in the sunset ©Tignes/Tristan Shu
The Quarter Pipe in the sunset
©Tignes/Tristan Shu


Great program for the day: press meeting at 11 am, then lunch, after lunch walk on the “Glacier de la Grande Motte”, back to the hotel, then trainings on the Quarter before the real competition starts. Under a glorious shining sun, we took a moment to talk with Marie about her event:


“This event really is about celebrating Sarah, who was a person of projects, she had a vision, she knew before everyone that grils had their place in this sport, event before any girls were actually doing it. This event today, by and for freestyle female riders, really is in the continuity of who she was, of her spirit.


Furthermore, even if there have been celebrations before, this is the first real competition event in her honor. So the girls all said yes, despite the date next to the Olympics, despite the tiredness and the jet lag.  They wanted to be here, for Sarah, for the sport, for the public, for the show. And to conditions respond well to all this willingness to share: the weather is beautiful, the quarter is perfect, everything is really there for us to have a great time tonight, for the public to wtach a great show. And I hope we can inspire a lot of girls to start riding half pipes and quarters, and kickers and rails, and fly as high as they can and enjoy it as much as we do.”


Riders rise above the coping for the Sarah Burke Foundation  ©Tignes/Tristan Sh
Marie Martinod meets her fans after the show
©Tignes/Tristan Shu


Ayana Onozuka, for example, staid only two days in Japan after the Olympics before getting back on a plane to get to Tignes. She wouldn’t have missed this event for the world:


“I’ve been riding in Half Pipe only for two years. I didn’t get the chance to meet Sarah and I regret that. So when Marie invited me here, I immediately said yes, I had to come here. All the girls here today are the ones who introduced me the the feminine freestyle family, and if I am here today it is partly thanks to them. Sharing these moments with them, I feel like I am getting a share of Sarah’s spirit, who lives through them. It’s magical for us, for our sport, for the public.”


Le stand Wed’ze, les skis de la collection femme ADIX et toutes les nouveautés textile ©Wedze/Emily Rouet

The stand Wed’ze, skis from the ADIX women collection and the new outfits
©Wedze/Emily Rouet


This very same public that was all over the event. Throughout the day, first, on Wed’ze stand, where everyone was able to discover and test the new women ski collection ADIX and ask their questions to the product manager. The stand where the products co-developed with Marie Martinod, including this exclusive outfit that we told you about not so long ago, and that you will find in your local store as from this autumn, were presented in exclusivity.


And at night, then, when the lights were lit to illuminate the runway and the quarter pipe, and the girls started their first trainings runs, jumps and tricks. They were 7000 people to gather to encourage the riders, groove at the sound of DJ Maeva Carter, and view the beautiful show of the Tignes ski instructors skiing down with torchlights and forming a heart in honor of Sarah.


Riders rise above the coping for the Sarah Burke Foundation

©Tignes/Tristan Shu


The riders gave their best, enjoying showing what they are capable of on skis, for the public, for the beauty of the sport, and for the Sarah Burke foundation. In the end, thanks to their energy, the generosity of the city of Tignes, and Wed’ze partnership, 15 000 euros were given to the foundation. Money that might end up, who knows, financing the trainings of the future female Half Pipe Olympic Champion ? And the most beautiful smiles were to be seen that night, including the one of Gordon Burke, Sarah’s father, who was watching over the girls all along those moments of grace.


Les sourires, magnifiques ©Tignes/Tristan Shu


Follow Marie Martinod on her website
Get more information about the Sarah Burke Foundation


Emily - EN