Yesterday I spent a pleasant afternoon with former boardercross world champion Nikki “Nillard” Pilavakis-Davoren, who grew up in Maine.
Nikki always displayed athletic talent, and was a champion field hockey player in high school and college. She started snowboarding as a young adult at Saddleback Mountain, near her parents’ home in Rangeley. Entirely self-taught, she became very, very good at the nascent sport during the 1990s.
She was teaching snowboarding at Sugarloaf when she entered her first competition, in halfpipe, on January 5, 1997. Somewhat surprisingly to herself, she won. Encouraged by a friend, she quickly decided to head out west and compete in professional-level boardercross, which became her specialty.
For competition, she adopted the moniker “Nillard.” As Nillard Pilavakis, she enjoyed an incredible and memorable three seasons as a top racer in international SBX competition.
In spring, 1999, at Laax, Switzerland, Nillard emerged as the overall champion of the worldwide Swatch/Palmer Boardercross Series, underscored by her No. 1 ranking by the International Snowboard Federation.
An injury in December, 1999, effectively ended her competitive career. But in the silver linings category, she met husband Tim Davoren during her rehabilitation. Today they live in Yarmouth, raising two snowboard bunnies: daughters Kadin (8) and Aslin (6).
Nikki is donating a number of her snowboards, trophies and other memorabilia to the Ski Museum of Maine — which is also intensely interested in snowboarding.