ENCINITAS, California, Nov 9 (Reuters) – In the bowls and street skating ledges and rails of U.S. skate parks, women and girls exude pride over their increasingly impressive skateboarding skills and say even the guys who have long dominated the sport are taking notice.
At the 12th annual Exposure Skate competition this month in the California beach town of Encinitas, girls under 10 and in their teens were shredding. That’s skateboard lingo for aggressive and skilled skating.
“They are really getting good,” said Cona Suganami, 16, a Californian who has been skateboarding for five years.
“I hope girls’ skateboarding improves even more and we can push each other and beat the boys,” Suganami added with a laugh.
For Exposure co-founder Amelia Brodka, long-ignored skateboarding girls got a golden opportunity to shine when they competed for the first time in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where she competed for Poland.
“It was like the guys finally started watching the girls and they were shocked at the level of skateboarding and the rate of progression,” said Brodka.
Japanese women won four of the six Olympic medals, including the two golds, in Park and Street competitions.
When Exposure started 12 years ago, Brodka said there were few opportunities to skate, no sponsorships, no visibility in skateboard media. “Now they are finally starting to pay attention,” she said.
Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, who lives in the area, said “support for women in skateboarding and their level of skating has exploded in recent years.”
“We need to highlight events like Exposure to acknowledge that women’s skateboarding is exciting, highly advanced, and here to stay,” Hawk told Reuters.
Parents of the skateboarding girls are equally stoked by the expertise and the attention.
Lauren Wigo came to Encinitas from New York City with her 15-year-old daughter Marisol Concha.
“I think if you can shred and perform, they do take you seriously,” said Wigo. “And she is often one of the only girls, if the only girl in the park when she skates. So she shreds.”
‘FUTURE OF SKATEBOARDING’
Lisa Lilley came with skater daughter Ruby from nearby Oceanside, California.
“I think more so than ever, especially in the last two years that the men are taking the women more seriously and the women have really stepped up their skating,” said Lilley.
Mindy Johnson has four daughters who skate and came with 10-year-old Lulu from Minnesota, who competed in advanced bowl and intermediate verticals after starting to skate two years ago.
“I don’t think there is enough girl-specific skateboarding things,” said Mindy Johnson. “We would love to see it grow.”
Her daughter said she thought they should get more respect from the boys.
“They are missing that girls are the future of skateboarding and girls can be good at skateboarding too,” said Lulu Johnson.
Despite the progression of girls in the sport, there were calls for more support from the skating community.
“It is still a male-run industry and I think the key that needs to happen is supporting everything that all of these women who laid the foundation have been doing,” said Brodka.
One asset the women and girls extol is the profound sense of community among them, even at competitions as important as the Olympics.
“Even though we are competing, we are all friends and we all support each other, ” said Brodka. “So what you will see if you go to a skate park or skateboarding contest, is the competitors are cheering each other, supporting each other. They want to see each other succeed.”