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SPORT - Skateboarding

Girls Skate Out 2: The first ever female only skateboarding event in the UK
Epic Skatepark, Birmingham - Sunday 23rd Feb, 12-3pm
Rachael D’Cruze

Skateboarding took off more than twenty years ago and (like most good things) was instantly dominated by men. Considered at first to be too aggressive to interest women, the female role within skateboarding was marginalized. Comparitable to women in other ‘masculine’, mainstream sports such as football, women (in public at least) were watchers, wives and cheerleaders. However, it was never a simple lack of interest that kept women from participating in skateboarding, our social conditioning tells us (both men and women) that is not ‘normal’ and definitely not feminine. Well, it is now.

Over the last few years’ female skaters have come out of dingy car parks and into the limelight, Lucy Adams (the UK’s best female skater) has had considerable media attention within the last year. Last year also saw the first female only skateboarding event in the UK -‘Girls Skate Out’, organised by two pro-active female skaters Laura Powell and Vanessa Gorman, which was held at The House skatepark in Sheffield.

This years Girls Skate Out was held at Epic skatepark in Birmingham, which should have been easy enough for me to get to from new street station (as it is a couple of minutes away), had I not confused Epic with the old Warped Sports skatepark, on the other side of the city. After a two mile skate followed by a taxi ride with a driver who at first thought I wanted him to take me to ‘Essex’ skatepark my friend and I arrived at Epic, late. Even when you expect it, the site of a skatepark littered with women rather than boys is slightly surreal.

When you’re used to just skating street, the prospect of dropping in at a park (and potentially slamming quite hard) can be quite daunting. However the tutorials provided by GSO skaters proved to be hugely popular and inspired many skatepark virgins I spoke too. The first half of the day took the form of a relaxed jam, where girls either got warmed up for the competition or had a go and got hurt, myself being in the second category.

The GSO team had a job encouraging girls to skate in the actual comps, but the standard of the entrants was really impressive. Sadie Hollins was the clear winner of the under 18’s street, flying around the park, landing boardslides, noseslides and kickflips, she also won the kickflip to fakie competition (jammy). Upbeat jazz and broken beats from the Phonetics were replaced the heavier ‘rock from Ross’ to get the over 18’s going, Rowena Brannon kicked ass and won the crown. The much respected Sue Hazel was inspiration to all GSO girlies as (at 40 years old) she won the mini ramp competition for the second year running, although Rana Traboulsi gave her a run for her money.

Prize giving ended the day and anyone who placed received a decent prize, thanks to GSO’s generous sponsors who included Carhartt, Gallaz, Frozen, Howies, Exit Skate Shop, Kate’s Skates, Easpac, Project Skates, Rookie, Mooks, Curly Grrlz, Death, Shiner and New Deal UK. The sticker toss generated more enthusiasm than collection of the bigger prizes though, which is worrying…

On that evening the city of Birmingham was illuminated with girls on boards, starting their individual journeys home with happy hearts and bruised knees: a beautiful thing indeed.

Etnies European Embarrassment
Rachael D’Cruze

Girl’s skateboarding events are always last, the results always posted at the bottom of lists. While we continue to be such a minority this under dog status is both understandable and expected. Being blatantly and publicly ripped-off at the Etnies European Open competition was a bit of a shock though.

Girls were required to pay the standard £20 entry fee and to skate two 45-second runs each. Fair enough. The decision made by the judges on the day not to bother to place the girls and to give everyone the same prize money; £40 and an over sized mans watch was almost unbelievable.

The total prize money given out that day was 10k, making it one of the best-paid skate events in the UK. A total of £240 was handed out to the girl’s altogether (half of that being their entrance fee), 2.4% of the prize money. The insult should be self-explanatory.

Money aside, why make the girls do individual runs just to hand out the same mandatory prize? It was said on the day that not enough girls had entered but this would have been better received had it been said before the skating had finished.

Six girls skated that day, a lame amount but definitely enough to constitute a competition. Being treated as a second rate joke is not going to give more girls the incentive to participate in big events or to do anything more than cruise.

It came to light after the competition that the judges had placed the girls, but decided not to announce the results on the day or to award the appropriate prizes. In first place was Laura Powell, who started her run with an ollie to fakie over the steep bank and finished with a switch 180, where she reverted so fast it looked like a switch 360.

A4, who organised the event with Soletech Europe, told Laura that the decision to split the prize money evenly between the girls was ‘in fairness to everyone that came to take part.’ This is no comfort to Laura, who spent £20 in petrol and £20 entering, leaving her with a watch so big that its only use is as a wall clock.
‘We want to support girls skating but we need more participation to justify paying anywhere near as much as the guys’ stated A4. It is an undisputed fact that the standard of guy’s skating is (in all realism) superior to that of the girls but surely girls first place should have earned a better prize than guy’s 14th place street?

The final results for the girls jam posted on the Etnies official website are:
1. Laura Powell / England
2. Emma Richardson / England
3. Rowena Brannon / England
4. Roxanne Chiftory / England
5. Kristina Neff / Germany
6. Florence Hudson / England
Rachel D'Cruze is a senior journalism student at Falmouth College of Arts- UK

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