Until recently it was only familiar faces that were seen at skateboard events. Although it’s great to have regular riders returning and supporting the scene, it became a little worrying not to see any new talent coming through. However this years Girl Skate Jam UK saw a much-needed explosion of new riders emerging in the Under 18’s category. I caught up with some of those who attended the event and questioned them about where they have been hiding all this time! Welcome to the new breed of offspring paving the way for the next generation.
Words and photos by Jenna Selby
Claire Thompson – Horsmonden, Kent
Fourteen year old Claire has spent the last four years mastering an array of technical tricks in her back garden; including fakie 180 heelflips, fakie big flips and varial flips – hers is a story somewhat reminiscent of a one Mr Rodney Mullen who similarly taught himself to skate on the family farm, his only company in this case were the wandering cows!
“My brothers Will and Sam inspired me to take up skating, they taught me the basics like pop-shuvits and kickflips, from then on I loved it. I enjoy skating because of the people you meet and the tricks you learn. You always get a good feeling when you land that trick that you've been trying to get for months!" Claire was only 11 when she decided she wanted to drop a vert ramp. After a bit of a scramble to get up it, a couple of knee-slide attempts and one face plant followed. She then dropped it perfectly whilst both her brothers looked on but wouldn’t have a go.
Claire is lucky to have supportive but ‘let her get on with it herself’ parents. “Mum and Dad take me to events and they are always there supporting me when I am competing. Sometime they take me to skate parks, there's some good ones in Tunbridge Wells and also Unit 1 in Rochester." It was whilst Claire was skating Unit 1 that she bumped into local ripper Dani Gallacher who told her about the annual Girl Skate Jam “I have entered some local competitions but by far this was the best competition I've ever entered. I enjoyed meeting people like me – other girls who skate; it was a good thing to see. It was very nerve racking but exciting at the same time. I also got to see Lucy Adams; I mean she is just an amazing skateboarder. I hope to get to her standard and better as I continue skateboarding. It would just be out of this world if one day I could become professional, I doubt that will happen, but I will carry on skateboarding and I will try to become very very good! I am going to carry on being daring, as skateboarding is my life. I can never see me giving up this amazing sport."
Caitlin Robinson Mawhood – Hemel Hempstead, Herts
Caitlin, 14, is fortunate enough to have incredibly understanding parents and grandparents when it comes to feeding her skateboarding addiction. “They give me lifts to my local skate park every week and have also paid for a pass to XC (the new state of the art, £5million skate facility in Hertfordshire). When I hurt myself they just tell me to man up and deal with the pain! - in a nice way of course!"
“I am very lucky to have two good skate parks around the corner from me - the new XC centre in Hemel Hempstead and Pioneer Skate park in St Albans - so I don't have to travel more than half an hour to skate. I like Pioneer because it was the very first park I went to. Everyone there is friendly and I think it’s a good park for all levels of skateboarders to practice on. There are also plenty of street spots to skate near my house where you can put tricks down - driving around with friends, looking for spots is really the best part of skating for me."
Caitlin placed an impressive 2nd at last years Girl Skate Jam – it was the first time she had ever entered a competition. It was apparent just how much she had progressed when she skated this year’s competition and was awarded first place after landing a variety of tricks all at some speed. “When I heard my name called out I was stoked. I was up against some other talented girls. No matter what place I get I always enjoy the opportunity to be able to skate with other girls."
With regards to her thoughts on the future – “I will always skate for fun with friends, but I do want to get some good tricks down to put together to make video parts. Hopefully I can also achieve my dream of being sponsored and being able to skate for a local skate team."
Holly and Tamsin Bunce – Burgess Hill, Sussex
Sisters Holly (15) and Tamsin (7) come from a strong family line of board riders. Both Mum; Niki and Dad; Mark are keen surfers and brother Dillon a talented skateboarder.
It was around 18 months ago when Mark and Dillon first decided they wanted to learn to skate. Weekly trips to Crawley Skate Park soon ensued. Through Crawley Freestyle Association they found out about Saturday skateboard lessons, which Dillon was keen to sign up for. Holly and Tamsin also accompanied the weekly family expeditions and soon enough both girls also wanted to get involved. Tamsin - “I got bored watching my dad and brother all the time, I wanted to try it too. I wasn’t old enough for skateboard coaching last year, but this year I started the lessons and really enjoyed it. It’s really challenging and I enjoy learning different tricks to get better. Crawley is my favourite skate park because it is where I first learned to drop in. One day I’m going to make a poster for the ramp though - ‘No Scooters Allowed!!" [J- Here, here!]
Older sister Holly also isn’t one contented to sit around and file her nails. “Skateboarding looked like fun and instead of just watching I wanted to try it. Seeing my younger sister ripping made me want to skate. It’s fun trying to do new tricks, but its not fun falling off!"
Recently the family invested in a new addition to the back garden - no nothing along the lines of ornamental gnomes, water features or the like - Holly – “One day we watched American wife swap and one of the families had a skate park in their back garden. We all said ‘wouldn’t that be cool’! We kept asking Dad about getting a ramp and he ummed and arred for ages. So we kept on pestering him and eventually him and Mum said yes! We’ve now got our own 3ft miniramp and for the opening celebration Mum and Dad held a ‘Bangers & Mash Skateboard Bash"
Any final thoughts, ladies, on being part of ‘Skateboarding, the Next Generation?" Holly - "I would like to get better and learn more tricks." Tamsin - "When I am old enough I would like to go around the world and find some great skate parks, I want to get RAD!"