The Burton Blog

The Community of Women Behind Park Affair

To the untrained eye, park riding is not a team sport.

It takes personal determination and strong focus to learn tricks, and you have only yourself to land on when you fall. Yet, after attending Park Affair in early March, we started to re-think the solo mentality of park riding. What we learned was that, with a supportive crew, we can take progression way further than we thought possible.

“Once you attend Park Affair, you’re part of it. You make friendships that last,” says Emily Gorham, a coach. It’s true: the camp is notorious for starting friendships that continue long after the event’s over. There’s even a group of women that met at Park Affair and now take winter trips to Japan together.

Park Affair bulletin board
The day's events. Park Affair is a two-day camp for women's park riding.
A group of women loading snowboards into a Toyota 4Runner
Packing up our Toyota 4Runner with the essentials.
Burton employees at the Park Affair registration
Burton employees Emma Lenchner and Ally Healy are bright-eyed and ready for registration.

A few employees from Burton were attending this year, so we decided to pack up a couple Toyotas together and road trip down to southern Vermont for the weekend-long event. Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks contain 100 acres of terrain and features for all abilities, from mellow boxes to a giant superpipe. When we arrived, it was a perfect bluebird day. The soft snow and mild temps made for ideal conditions to push ourselves.

For the uninitiated, Park Affair is a snowboard camp for women, by women. It is led by two boss ladies, co-directors Hailey Ronconi and Mercedes Ortega (who also happens to be a Burton Sales Manager). It happens twice in the early spring: once at Big Boulder in Pennsylvania, and again at Mount Snow in Vermont. All levels are welcome, and it’s a great way to meet passionate women who absolutely shred.

Burton employee, Ally Healy, hitting a rainbow rail
Ally rides the rainbow.
Two women high-fiving
"I’m super excited for this year’s setup. Carinthia is amazing and the park crew here supports us so much. They nailed it." - Mercedes
Burton employee and Park Affair leader, Mercedes
Co-Director Mercedes Ortega coaching through a bloody nose.
“Once you attend Park Affair, you’re part of it. You make friendships that last.”
Women riding rails at Park Affair
"It's so great to see the momentum and how much Park Affair has grown, it's awesome." - Co-Director Hailey Ronconi
Burton employee, Emma Lenchner
Second-time Park Affair attendee, Emma, coming in hot.
Mercedes coaching Emma
Hoping Mercedes will be our life coach, too.

There were 60 women total this time around, including coaches and volunteers. Jamie Trayer, a coach (and Burton Partnerships and Events Coordinator) says, “I think coaching is in my blood, after coaching soccer for years, so having the opportunity to teach snowboarding was an instant yes.” Each of the Park Affair coaches seems to be a blend of tough and encouraging, like strict-but-cool teachers that expect the best of you. There’s a unique feeling in the air that everyone is in their element, fully present, and doing what they love. Egos are left behind.

Park Affair attendee
Elliott, 10, was full of stoke all weekend.
With a supportive crew, we can take progression way further than we thought possible.
Two women doing tripods
Spotted a double tripod during the afternoon breakout sessions.
Burton employee, Kim Dirmaier learning to tail press her board
Pressing it out.

“No one’s progression is the same,” Hailey reminds us in her kick-off speech. With 54 participants, ages spanning 13 to 50, it would be impossible to set the same goals for everyone. The beauty of this crew is that they’ll meet you where you’re at and help you move to the next level. One certainty is that your confidence, skills, and friendships will grow by the end of camp. Even if you came to Park Affair alone, you now have a team of people rooting for you, and familiar faces to come back to next year.

Park Affair Co-Founders Mercedes and Hailey
Our leaders, Hailey and Mercedes.