Hosted by Cascade’s very own Kat Sweet, the event aims to provide a venue for professional and amateur female freeriders to compete in a supportive environment while bringing awareness to the ever-growing women’s freeride movement, and to provide inspiration to women mountain bikers.
Sugar Showdown kicks off on Saturday, July 7, with a sold-out clinic taught by pro riders and renowned instructors for 42 participants from around the country and Canada.
“It’s fun to help other women reach their potential. Often times we don’t realize just how much we can do until we see someone else do it,” said Sweet, who has been mountain biking for 25 years.
On Sunday, a freeride competition for both pro and amateur participants will showcase some of the best women riders from across the country.
“I think [women] see men do these sports and think, ‘I can’t do that’. So to see these women do this, they might think, ‘If she can do it, maybe I can do it, too’,” Sweet said. “It’s inspiring to see women push themselves like that and see the potential of what we can do.”
Filmmaker Mark Brent is teaming up with Sweet to create an online movie titled “If She Can Do It, I Can Do It”, documenting the story of the Sugar Showdown.
“It’s amazing me how many women and men want to see what we are doing,” said Sweet. “We have received overwhelming support for the event, and a lot of it came from men. They want to see their daughters and wives out there.”
For the past decade, Sweet has been instrumental in bringing many new riders to the sport. She has coached kids programs for the last 10 years and women’s programs for six years, and continues to inspire future mountain biking champions as both an independent coach and Cascade’s Youth Program Manager.
“What makes me truly happy in life is getting others to compete,” Sweet said. “Yes, winning is fun but it is more fun to me to see my [students] excel.”
After years spent racing the pro circuit and skiing in California, Sweet decided to move to Seattle in 2002 and give back to the community by investing in young riders. A friend asked her what she really wanted to do with her life and the answer came easily: “to get kids on bikes”.
Sweet started the local Trips for Kids chapter and has been doing kids bike programs ever since.
“It’s about giving kids something positive to focus on,” Sweet said. “I was kind of a social misfit growing up. I didn’t fit in with the normal sports. I think that if I had had mountain biking in my life, things would have been much better for me.”
Sweet soon set out to support another underserved demographic: women.
“Women have been neglected in alternative sports for years,” Sweet explained.
In 2011 she founded Sweetlines, a company that specializes in women-focused training with women instructors. Sweet aims to bring women riders together, push their skills, and empower better riders in a fun, challenging and safe environment.
“Learning to push yourself on the bike translates into life in any arena,” Sweet said. “It taught me to be courageous and to be an entrepreneur and take risks.”
Come out to support Kat and the women of freeride this Sunday, July 8, at Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, Wash, for the Sugar Showdown freeride competition.
You won’t be disappointed. Sweet revealed that the high-speed pro course features berms, rollers, drops, and jumps which can send riders up to 20 feet in the air.
The pro competition kicks off at 11 a.m. and the amateur field will follow at 1 p.m.