The Alliance is an organisation that was originally set up back in the summer of 2005 to help create a voice for the girls and women in skateboarding. Mimi Knoop – “We originally started out more or less unplanned. We became a ‘created-over-night’ advocacy group, (which we still are!)” Cara-Beth Burnside – “In 2005 we weren’t invited to X Games until a few days before our contest(s); the prize money was super low (2,000 for 1st place for girl’s street and vert), and there was no coverage anywhere to be seen. We were a bit frustrated and just felt we weren’t being taken seriously at our events. We all got together (Vanessa Torres, Amy Caron, Jen O’Brien plus others) one night in the week of X Games and decided to work together as a group to bring about change in a positive way. We wanted to literally have a voice, to represent ourselves and have input at our own events. We also did not want to take anything away from the men’s side of skateboarding; that was something we always stressed. They’ve worked hard to get where they are too, and that was not part of our mission.”
Today as an established organisation, The Alliance acts as the sport organiser for all professional women’s skateboard events at ESPN/X Games and this week has relaunched its website. The move behind this was to: 1 – Bring more visibility to girl’s skateboarding. 2 – Create a clear message about who The Alliance is, and how they operate and 3 – As with any online presence, to create a virtual platform for operations and future announcements.
The women who are currently represented by The Alliance simply reflect those that have competed in X Games since the organisations’ involvement as a sponsor for the event. As the Alliance progresses forward so too will their involvement with featuring other women on the site.
There are opportunities offered for riders at differing levels: At the professional level The Alliance helps create financial opportunities for all the women competing at X Games (in every sport- not just skateboarding) through the prize purse parity deal with ESPN. CB – “We plan to continue to bring new faces and talent to the skate contests at X Games providing up and comers with that same opportunity.” On the amateur (and professional) level, The Alliance has recently engaged a major marketing and business development firm that can potentially provide the human and financial resources necessary to make bigger things happen. Drew Mearns – “We expect to announce that officially in the next month or two, along with a global participatory – a women’s skate event series.” [J- basically watch this space!]
– Drew Mearns, an experienced sports lawyer and a former officer of International Management Group (the world’s largest sport’s management and marketing firm) has close links with Mimi’s family. He became interested in women’s skating and helping the progression and direction of the sport. Mimi – “He has helped us organize ourselves properly, and played the principle role in all of our negotiations with ESPN for the X Games.” Drew will continue to advise the Alliance on marketing and business matters, and will be very actively involved with The Alliance’s work with ESPN.
The teams that make up the Alliance consist of Founders and Advisory Board Members. The Founders, CB, Mimi and Drew, handle the business/administrative side of things, while the Advisory Board Members, which include filmer and ‘thesideproject‘ creator; Lisa Whitaker, pioneer in the women’s street skating movement; Amy Caron and seven time X Games medalist; Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, plus five others, give input, feedback and serve as the selection committee for the women’s skateboard events at X Games.
Lisa Whitaker –“Each of the board members has a long history of involvement in the female skate scene and work together to make selections based an overall criteria including past contest results, video footage, coverage and ability to skate each section of an X Games style/size course.”
Mimi – “For those new to skateboarding, action sports or to those people who aren’t familiar with us and/or our history – know that we are all skateboarders and we love what we do. We sincerely want to help girl’s skateboarding grow in a positive, professional way. We want to create a solid foundation so that young girls coming up have the choice and opportunity to skate professionally one day – through love of the sport, hard work, and progression. We know that with more financial incentive comes more participation & progression- and with more progression comes visibility – and with more visibility comes more value; and therefore endorsements, and professional careers. We hope to continue to provide more of those things: financial incentive, visibility, and in return the female side of skateboarding will keep expanding and evolve into a bigger thing just like women’s snowboarding and surfing has done.”
Any female skater who feels they are skating at the top level and is interested in competing in the X Games is encouraged to contact The Alliance at – firstname.lastname@example.org.