Ten of the world's top female skaters will be dropping into the bowls in Barcelona for the first-ever X Games Women's Skateboard Park competition, including X Games Foz do Iguaçu 2013 Skateboard Street gold medalist Leticia Bufoni, eight-time X Games Skateboard Street medalist Elissa Steamer, five-time women's vert medalist Mimi Knoop, along with a new generation of young rippers ready to prove themselves.
"I think the moment is right for this event because there are so many more girls skating parks and pools now than ever before and so many girls just killing it out there who have been needing something like this to aim for," says Nora Vasconcellos, winner of the 2013 Vans Girls Combi Classic in January. "I'm super psyched because I've never been out of the country before and I know it's going to be amazing just to be in Barcelona with this group of girls … we all realize that this is a huge platform and a crazy opportunity for women's skateboarding."
Women's Skateboard Vert competition was removed from the X Games lineup in 2011, but Women's Skateboard Street has continued to be an X Games staple. Knoop and eight-time X Games medalist Cara-Beth Burnside have been working behind the scenes to bring additional women's events into the mix and maintain prize purse equity for men and women at X Games through their work with The Alliance, a non-profit they founded in 2005 to give voice to female action sports athletes.
"Bringing Women's Skateboard Park to X Games has been one of our top priorities over the last three or four years," says Knoop, who also competed in the first-ever X Games Real Women video contest this month. "We knew there were 10 girls out there who could fill those spots and make for a great contest that would look great on live TV."
Bufoni and Steamer are accomplished street skaters who also happen to rip in the parks; Knoop and four-time X Games medalist Karen Jonz will be bringing vert and pool skills, as will Vasconcellos, reigning World Cup Skateboarding champion Lizzie Armanto, longtime bowlriders' circuit veteran and former Women's Skateboard Vert competitor Julie Kindstrand, and Allysha Bergado, who made her X Games debut in Women's Skateboard Vert back in 2008 when she was just 12 years old.
Spanish rider Ianire Elorriage, an X Games rookie, will be the locals' favorite, but every competitor we spoke to predicted that the biggest surprises will likely come in the smallest package: 12-year-old Alana Smith, with her ear-to-ear smile full of braces. Smith landed a McTwist in November at Exposure 2012 -- making her the first woman to land the trick in competition -- and followed it up in April with an even prouder accomplishment, beating out most of her male competitors to finish 59th out of 201 skaters at Phoenix Am.
"It's going to be crazy to be in a contest with older girls like Elissa and Mimi, who I've been looking up to ever since I first stepped on a skateboard," Vasconcellos, 20, said. "But I'm also finding myself looking up to girls who are younger than me like Alana, who can skate anything from street to park to pools to vert and even the MegaRamp … this kind of exposure is going to get so many more girls out there stoked on skateboarding."