Pushing Forward: Women Join Street League
Above all, skateboarding has always been inclusive, which has been why it has attracted so many kids over the years. Everyone fits in; it's a club anyone can join. The same, now, can be said about skateboarding competition at the most elite level: Street League (SLS). On a historical day in early October, the best in women's street skating officially competed for the first time on the Street League stage at the Super Crown in Chicago.
As women's sports continues to evolve, along with it the level of competition, their place alongside their male counterparts becomes that much more apparent. And while the skateboarding community can easily utter Leticia Bufoni's name in the same breath as Nyjah Huston, the wider world out there can now be as privy to the talent and athleticism of female skaters as they are to the Nyjahs and Chris Coles of the skateboarding world.
No one was more proud of the formal inclusion of womens skateboarding into SLS than Women's Skateboarding Alliance founder and president Mimi Knoop. Mimi and the team at WSA have diligently paved the way for the evolution of women's skating, and it without their work, this day may not have arrived. We caught up with Mimi after the event (who usually carries her GoPro along her adventures) to get her impression of the milestone.
Mimi Knoop: "In 2013, we (WSA) approached the powers that be at Street League about co-producing a Women's Division at SLS. Everyone seemed privy to the idea, but as always, timing is everything and the concept wouldn't take hold for longer than we had expected. Fast-forward two-and-half years later, and I found myself standing in the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, staring at the freshly mopped SLS Super Crown course. Women's practice was slated to begin in 30 minutes, but in those early morning hours the arena was still empty, and for the first time I was able to take stock of how far we had come. The feeling was both exciting, and surreal. We did it. We helped bring women into the SLS program.
"I think the skaters competing felt much of the same. They were all very aware of how long this had been in the planning stages, and the significance of this first ever Women's Division was lost on no one in attendance. There was a tangible electricity in the air; a mixture of anxiety and excitement seemed to flow as the women put down their first runs. Once the jitters were out, though, an unspoken calm seemed to flow between the skaters beginning w/ Lacey Baker's near perfect 45 second run. The crown erupted; synergistic success between the participants and the spectators.
"In the end, GoPro athlete Leticia Bufoni took first, Vanessa Torres second, and Alana Smith third. But in reality, the placings almost didn't matter. History had been made as a whole, and a huge milestone was met. This was the first small step into a new era of women's professional skateboarding... and it's only the beginning."
For more info on WSA: womensskateboardingalliance.com
For more info on Street League: streetleague.com