For the first time ever, the Summer X Games headed to European soil, opting for beautiful Barcelona to play host to a stop of the action sports comp. And adding another first, it was also the inauguration of women’s park so obviously we had to head down south to witness this milestone ourselves...
Words and photos by Hannah Bailey
Perched on the mountain of Mont Juic, the first European Summer X Games event called the 1992 Olympic site home for a couple days, where for the first time women’s park was introduced into the line-up. A never been done event at the X Games, that has seen a long hard battle until the girls were allowed to take to the bowl and show the world what they’ve got. About time we say! Mimi Knoop and ‘The Alliance’ had worked hard to persuade the X Games to give girls the chance to compete on this male dominated playground. It has been a couple years of fighting, but Mimi isn’t one to give up easy, especially when it’s about something this important. So now it was up to the competitors to prove that they’ve got what it takes to keep them in the games. We left intrigued and came back truly inspired, to say the least…
Legend of the game and ’advocate for women’s skating, Mimi Knoop, was not only there to support the event she had fought for, but also to boost big and compete herself. After endless efforts, this was her moment to shine on her board and be proud of what she achieved, with all the girls who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her persistence. She pushed for years to have a women’s park category included and all the competitors were clearly supporting the cause, hungry to show the world what girls skate was about.
First ever-female pro skater, Elissa Steamer even left the comfort of the streets to hit the park and show face in Barcelona. And the crowd loved this rare chance to see her skate on a competitive platform! Her laid back style and cruisy manner are a classic to watch, and we were in awe that she was there in human form to be honest! From old school to the new, Leticia Buffoni showed up as well, freshly adorned with gold from the last X Games stop in Brazil, where she took the victory in the street section. It’s not often that you see legends like Elissa and Leticia side by side waiting to drop, pushing each other and joking around (we eaves-dropped). Fellow Brazilian skater Karen Jonz, who was rocking some awesome pink dipped hair, had to come all the way to Barcelona for her chance to get in the game. With the Foz do Iguacu stop in her homeland not catering for her transitional needs, being the vert slayer she is, she saved up her technical tricks for the European stage. Where she went on to shine next to sweet sixteen year old Allysha Bergado, who competed in her first X Games at 13. Rocking some mini shorts and boosting big backside airs, she was quite a force to be reckoned with - despite her rather tiny frame. But also Welcome Skateboards’ Nora Vasconcellos, hailing from non-skateable Massachusetts, showed she is one to watch in the future now that she lives in the skateable land of California.
Despite everyone throwing awesomeness in their own way (and that includes way more than mentioned above) there could only be three medalists. Bronze went to the clearly energized Julz Lynn, who was on the course well before the start, giving out prizes and getting the crowd amped up for the comp. But it were 12-year old Alana Smith and Lizzie Armanto who really stole the show. Alana finishing each of her solid runs with a charging attempt at a 540 McTwist. Never quite landing it this time, we know she’s already nailed it and is a sure thing to push the scene over the next few years. And taking silver, she’s officially the youngest X Games medalist ever! Top spot deservedly went to Lizzie (who will tell a bit more in our Pro Chat tomorrow), the concrete competitor that all the girls were wary off. Despite being favourite to take gold from the beginning, the pressure didn’t seem to get to her as she solidly threw down each of her runs with smooth boardslides and tons of style. The day before the comp she mentioned to us that all she wanted was for everyone to do well, not just her… united in skate! Seems like she got all she wished for.
The X Games are all about showcasing action sports to the masses, with crowd pleasing big airs, rotations and inverts attracting the eyes and the money. That’s why it’s tricky (or not so) for the girls to be given the chance. What they stomp might not be as big as Burnquist, but it’s something to be amazed at. The size of them compared to the size of that bowl, the commitment it takes to get to their level and the slams they have taken to get there. Girls have had to prove that they’ve got the wow factor to keep the crowd, and the tricks to impress the judges. It’s the circle of skate: the more support, the more skaters and the more skaters, the better the scene... It all starts in the park and it’s started with this crew. They’ve got the bowl rolling. Now it’s time to get involved. Participate, spectate, support and enjoy. Barcelona was only the beginning… the real battle continues with the second European leg of the X Games in Munich only inviting girls Moto X riders to join the fun. But we’ll be back next year - it’s surely got to be on the schedule now!