“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ~Alice Walker
Today was a good day. Vans U.S. Open continued with its magical mayhem on the sands of Huntington Beach. There were the usual sounds, crowds, police arrests, checkpoints, security, predictable attitudes, music, fried foods, energy drink company banners, giveaways and teenage buffoonery to be found in copious quantities. Something new and entertaining was on display in the bowl for everyone to see this day. A girls contest was held and it proved to be interesting.
I walked around during practice and watched the girls prepare. I saw some of them anxious and some oblivious to the crowds and hype. When asked, a few of the girls expressed surprise at even being in a girls contest of such magnitude. They felt like they were lucky to be included. Personally, I felt that each and every one of them belonged. These girls have power… they don’t seem to realize it though. Mimi Knoop helped get the contest in motion. I pulled her aside with a cup of coffee. Mimi- “Back in May, Steve and Kristy Van Doren asked Cara Beth and I up to the Vans headquarters for a meeting. They wanted us to help them set up a girls contest for the Van Doren Invitational. Cara Beth and I, went through the past contest results, spoke with Lisa Whitaker and the Alliance Selection Committees and compiled a list of female riders that we thought were appropriate and would showcase girls skating. There aren’t many events like this and many of these girls wouldn’t be accustomed to such a large venue. I feel that this event and this platform is the important part. It shows these women and what they can do, no matter what the contest results. I feel that this is of primary importance.”
I had to agree with Mimi. I have covered most of the recent women’s events and this one was certainly the largest and most public. It would be daunting to look up and see four huge grandstands filled with people… nervousness. Mimi also pointed out that she was able to add on a few additional riders. This helped as well. They added some amateur riders that would otherwise have been unable to enter such an event. There were four Jam heats with four girls in each. The contestants were from the northwest, Hawaii, Brazil, California and the east coast. It was a mixed group of street skaters, skate park riders, vert aficionados and ordinary all-around skateboarders. They had one common denominator among them: they were all women and they ripped!
The girls dropped in and immediately things grew hectic. For every girl, there was a different style, approach and trick selection. They varied in speed, power and use of the bowl. It was exciting to see the approaches taken. One of the surprising and progressive things that we saw, were the girls that rode without safety gear. Some of these girls attacked the bowl and course padless and fearless. Vert airs, spine transfers and lip tricks were done with abandon and power. It was awesome to see the ladies raise the bar… The crowd got into the contest as the ladies pushed their limits. The contest cut was announced and the final six readied themselves. Qualifying sixth through first went as follows: Allysha Bergado, Julz, Amelia Brodka, Hunter Long, Lizzie Armanto and Nora Vasconcellos respectively. Did these girls have a few tricks up their sleeves? Did some give it their all in qualifiers or was something saved for the final attack? The riders were announced and the girls began to skate. In the end, there were moments of brilliance and courage. Nora Vasconcellos rode padless and pulled backside airs on the vert extension. She flowed everywhere and set a new standard for women’s bowlriding. Julz dropped in from a different place each run and kept things gnarly and varied. Amelia put together some of her most amazing contest runs that I have seen. Hunter was on the warpath. She literally slaughtered the bowl.
Allysha pulled it together when it counted most and Lizzie stayed on when it seemed nearly impossible for her to do so. These girls proved that they have power. It is evident in their skating, camaraderie and skill level. They collectively brought girls skateboarding up to a different level and displayed why their skateboarding must be encouraged and supported by everyone.
Final Results: 1st- Lizzie Armanto, 2nd- Julz, 3rd-Nora Vasconcellos, 4th- Hunter Long, 5th- Allysha Bergado, 6th- Amelia Brodka. Thank you to MRZ for the hard work and images. Thank you to VANS and all who support girls skateboarding. – Ozzie