After the success of our hour long skate classes throughout the summer, Boardettes introduced something bigger and better – the Skate Like A Girl intensive three-day course. Six hours of hardcore skating over a three day period, including the option to pick and choose to attend a one-off session. Either way, coach Carla Von Marx and I, Harriet Alana, seriously put these ladies through their paces – plenty of blood sweat and… smiles!
Day one saw a great turn out with eight attendees and despite my complete failure to get anyone’s name correct, (we had two Sophie’s and two Lucy’s) everyone had an awesome time and progressed rapidly in such a short stint. It was a day for getting the basics spot on – pushing, tick tacks, balance/control tricks, riding flat banks, kick-turns and pumping the mini ramp.
Most of the girls didn’t know each other and hadn’t skated at all before so it was great to see the camaraderie right from the get go. We had an excellent range of ages from those in their early 20’s to a woman in her 40’s, Sophie, who fought her struggle to get to grips with her skateboard – essentially a piece of wood that moves – even after many dramatic bails, at no point did she even consider giving up. Mad respect.
By the end of the two hours, the girls who had opted for just that session all received a goody bag including a t-shirt, stickers and magazines. Well done to the two Sophies, Lucy and Eva.
All Boardettes sessions previously have been blessed with dry weather, that is until Day two of Skate Like A Girl. My attempts to squeegee the skate park were futile as we became victims of the tail-end hurricane downpour just as our ladies were arriving. We didn’t let this dampen our spirits as the session went off like a firecracker – and we had skate photographer extraordinaire, Rob Shaw to capture the evenings activities.
Emily, Roisin, Caroline, Sarah and Lucy all returned and we went through ollies, shuv-its, also re-visiting kickturns and pumping, and finally dropping in mini half-pipe!
Now, dropping in is not technically difficult, but many people tend to avoid learning it because it seems so scary! It took me months to pluck up the courage to do it, and I learnt the hard way, with punk boys yelling at me to do it on the concrete quarters at Stockwell. I did it in the end, but I’d already been skating for six months. These girls had been skating for the grand total of 3 hours.
Split in to two groups, Carla worked on pumping whilst I got Emily and Caroline dropping in used to the mini ramp. Emily took to it straight away, as while the main group was re-capping flat bank skating, trickster, Carla, pushed Emily to learn not only how to drop in, but rock fakie, backside slasher and tail stall all in the space of half an hour!
Emily admitted she used to skate when she was a teen, but never had anyone to skate with so gave it up. I was glad all this positivity and encouragement was re-lighting her fire. Caroline needed a little more help with dropping in and she did bail a few times, but once she got over the fear factor, she mastered it. Nice one.
I wanted to keep the session moving, so needed to get the other girls on it. With the practicalities and physics explained, and after a few bails, Lucy, Rosin and Sarah all got the technique right, holding my hands for support. Practising ‘pumping’ before learning to drop in is always a great idea, so you know what to do once you have dropped in and I was pleased to see Roisin had mastered this art. A few more goes and Sarah and Lucy had also got it.
Forced to skate indoors, with less space to cruise about, meant we had to concentrate on learning tricks. I was stoked that all the girls were getting ollies straight away. Shuv-its were another trick that was mastered just like that. Emily naturally did frontside shuv’s instead (something I can’t even do myself!) At the end of just the second session, we were already seeing the individuality of skateboarding – discovering of tricks for oneself.
Day three, thankfully, was dry, but presented new challenges with local young delinquents riding a stolen scooter into the skate park not only disturbing our session, but other skate park users too. Thankfully they went away and we were able to get on with the session. Photographer Phil Hill was on hand to capture every magic moment, Anastasia Kuzina came down for a shred and Camilla Alexandra Mullins and Charlotte Twig Brennan also joined us for the evening… and very kindly agreed to judge the competition later! But first, the girls had to practice!
We began by recapping everything learnt in the two previous days, then Carla took Emily away for some more expert extended training whilst I continued with dropping-in with the other girls.
Then, it was time for the comp! A few moments practising moves and then down to the real deal. We split the competition into two halves – street and mini ramp. I felt a bit bad about making the girls skate amongst the busy-ness of the park.. ‘it’s good for them!’ Camilla piped up as she began observing some moves. And she was totally right. The girls made great use of the park, skating over the ‘nipples’ and using the hip and flat bank as well as flat ground tricks learnt. Sarah landed a couple of shuv its and Roisin’s ollies on the move were looking rock steady.
Then it was time for the mini ramp jam. Although not all the girls had fully learnt how to drop in, I felt it was still worth doing. After a shaky start, Emily killed it on the mini with a great run – rock fakie, tail stall and 50-50. Lucy hadn’t quite got there with dropping in, but with encouragement from myself and the other girls, she left the illogical fear behind and proceeded to drop in for the first time! A roar of cheers from everyone. After that, she did it many times, each time more and more confident, even with a bit of pumping afterwards. Sarah also learnt to drop in un-aided during the comp – I was so proud.
And so like everything great, the Skate Like A Girl intensive three-day course came to an end, but not without prize giving. Camilla and Charlotte totalled up the scores whilst I went to fetch the swag.
Roisin Larkin and Sarah came joint third receiving themselves each a goodie bag of t-shirts, stickers and magazines, Lucy Barker rode in at a steezy second place winning a pair of converse shoes and t-shirt and Emily Barker placed first winning a deck kindly donated by Descent skateboards.
Thank you to everyone involved in the course, including all our sponsors; Orijin skateboards, Descent Skateboards, Lovenskate and Parlour skate store and to Rob Shaw and Phil Hill for taking sweet snaps and to our judges Camilla and Charlotte. A massive thank you to Carla Von Marx for her excellent coaching skills – couldn’t have done it without her!
Carla and I were both sad to see the course come to an end, but we felt so inspired by all the girls. They were throwing themselves off their boards, probably gaining a fair amount of bruises the next day, reminded me of how dedicated you should be to learn something new, therefore progress, no matter what level you’re at. Everybody had an amazing time and achieved so much in just three two-hour sessions. The positivity and encouragement from one another was incredible, and paramount to their confidence and progression in such a short space of time. A massive well done, girls!