The Skateboard Moms' Blog

A Blog by Women Skaters, for People Everywhere.

How This Mom Survived the Kennedy Center Snake Sessions September 16, 2015

Patti at the Kennedy Center

by Patti Hurst

I’ve always passed on the really intense bowl sessions. If I know it will be a snake session – where two or more skaters try to claim the next run by dropping in at the same time – I stay home. When a session heats up, I sit down, pop open a can of beer, and watch the show. Snake sessions can be dangerous and, as a mom with a full-time job, I can’t afford to be seriously injured.

When the Kennedy Center sponsored the Finding a Line event here in Washington DC, we all knew it would be 10 straight days of snake sessions. The enormous front plaza of the Center was transformed into a skatepark. There was a custom-built, 4-foot, wooden bowl with pool coping! Music acts performed at the bowl’s edge while very experienced skaters charged the bowl day and night. Most of the time, there were dozens on deck fighting for runs. These sessions were the most intense I’ve ever seen. It was common to see three and four people skating the small bowl at once.

On my first day there, I watched from the deck as (mostly young male) skaters dropped in on each other, and frequently collided. My heart raced and my breath quickened as I imagined colliding too. I considered unpadding and watching from the sidelines. That wouldn’t have been so bad; it was a great show, and the music was fabulous.

But I wanted to skate that bowl! And I wanted to get over my fear of snake sessions. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived! In fact, I skated there several days in a row without serious injury. And, I learned a few strategies for reducing risk during a snake session:

  1. It’s always a good idea to pad up and wear a helmet, but it’s especially smart during a snake session, when you can just about count on collisions.
  2. Before you step up to the coping, learn the lines of the people skating with you. I watched until I knew where each skater was likely to go and what tricks each would likely miss. This information allowed me to predict when a run was likely to end, and where. It gave me a few precious seconds to prepare to start mine.
  3. Wait until a skater misses a trick on the far side of the bowl. If the run ends near you, your path is blocked until that skater exits the bowl and, by that time, it’s too late. The people on the far end of the bowl have already claimed the run.
  4. The instant a skater on the far side of the bowl misses his or her trick, shove your board up to coping with your foot. If you wait until the skater is out of the bowl, it’s too late. If you set your board on the coping any other way, it’s probably too late. As you are shoving your board to coping, quickly scan the coping to see who else has a board on. Watch out for people rolling in as well. Then, make a judgment about whether you can safely drop in without hitting those skaters head on.
  5. When you decide to go, don’t hesitate. Put your head down and go. Once in, look to see who else is in with you.
  6. Many people choose to take a line straight across the bowl, as if it were a miniramp. This minimizes the chance that you will hit another skater as you drop in. You can continue with a carve line from the next wall once the question of who has that run is settled.
  7. From there, adjust your line as needed to navigate around the other skater(s). It helps to have solid front and backside skills, and a few basic lip tricks, like axle stall and rock-fakie, so you have options. Don’t expect to ride your best. The key goal for any newcomer to this kind of session is to stay on your board.
  8. Some people will exit when they realize you’re in the bowl with them, some won’t. It’s up to you to decide whether to keep skating with the people who dropped in with you.
  9. If you do keep skating, read the line(s) of the other skater(s) in the bowl. If a skater is going high for a lip trick, you go low. When you miss your trick, get out fast! If you can’t get out fast, get your board and move out of the way of oncoming skaters until the coast is clear to get out.
  10. Accept the fact that collisions will happen. Get low and try to avoid direct impact. With luck, no one will get served.

Of course you don’t have to skate a snake session if you don’t want to. If you’re not feeling it, there’s no shame in sitting it out. And you probably shouldn’t skate a snake session until you have solid bowl skills and feel very comfortable at large, mellow, sessions. If you do decide to take a run, pat yourself on the back when the session is over! You’ve just survived your first snake session!


Going to the Skatepark Alone for the First Time Can Be Scary September 1, 2013

Filed under: extreme sports,moms,mothers,skateboarding,women — skateboardmoms @ 1:06 am
Tags: , ,

I’m skating tomorrow, and I’ve told friends where I’ll be. I hope some of them will show up and skate with me, but no one has said they’ll be there for sure.

That doesn’t concern me now, but I can remember a time when the thought of showing up at a park on my own terrified me. On my first trip to a skatepark, I watched through the fence. I was simply too afraid to go in. My heart was racing. The park looked challenging, but the thing that really freaked me out was the hoards of teen-aged skateboarders that ruled the park. The skaters looked really aggressive to me, as a beginner. They skated fast and furious, they took hard slams, and their boards sometimes flew out of control. Some were smoking, they were sweaty and dirty, and some swore and threw their boards as they missed a trick for the hundredth time. They seemed utterly fierce from my vantage point outside the fence. I imagined it was possible that some wouldn’t appreciate the fact that I was there to skate, and might even try to “teach me a lesson.”

To ease my nerves, I hired a 16-year-old neighbor to give me a lesson at the park. None of my fears turned out to be true. The other skaters either ignored me during my lesson, or complimented me as I rolled up and down banks for the first time.

Since that time, I’ve skated at hundreds of parks across the nation, and I’ve never felt unwelcome. Most people I meet are very friendly, and stoked to see another skater at the park. They tap their boards on coping as a sign of respect when I make my trick, as I do for them. If you ask, they are usually happy to show you a line, or to offer a trick tip. The kids follow me around and tell me they wish their moms would skate!

So, I won’t be upset if I see only strangers when I show up at the park tomorrow. I’ll session the bowl and, before you know it, I’ll have made a couple more friends.


Patti skating the park in Heber City, Utah


Moms: learning to carve well is just like having a baby. August 14, 2013

by Patti Hurst

“Are you having a contraction?”  My obstetrician was peering at me through my splayed legs with a quizzical look on her face.  “No,” I grunted in response.  “Then why are you pushing?” she asked, with exasperation in her voice.

I had good reason to push, I thought to myself at the time.  I had been in labor by that point for many hours, my first and only daughter was almost here, I was exhausted and I wanted her out of me!  I thought that, by pushing as hard as I could, even when my body was not contracting, I could speed up her arrival.  But, I was wrong.  As any woman who has been through labor knows, no amount of pushing is going to help move things along without a strong uterine contraction.

“What does this have to do with skateboarding,” you ask?

It occurred to me as I was skating my home bowl tonight that learning to carve well is really all about learning to sense when it’s time to push, and when it’s time to hang on and enjoy the ride.  Like a laboring mother, you have to time your effort precisely in order to achieve the flow every skater searches for during a run.

I’ve been skating bowls for seven years, and I like to think that I can carve fairly well, even if I don’t have a whole lot of tricks in my bag.  I remember what it was like when I was first learning, when I was unable to read the terrain in front of me, and had no sense of when I needed to exert myself in order to nudge my board ahead of me and gain speed.  I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, no matter how hard I tried.

I see so many skaters, both men and women, who struggle to carve well.  You’ve probably seen them too.  It’s not for lack of trying.  They thrash and swing their arms as they navigate the bowl, grunting and grimacing with the effort, coaxing their seemingly uncooperative skateboards to carry them forward.  Some even look like they could be in labor themselves!

Learning to carve well is about backing off on all that effort.  It’s about lightening up.  It’s about reading the terrain in front of you.  It’s about noticing when it’s useful to exert yourself, and when it’s not.  It’s about learning to anticipate the next opportunity to gain speed.  It’s about positioning yourself within that terrain to take full advantage of the next opportunity.

If I could go back to the day my daughter was born, I would tell myself to ease up a bit, to relax, to notice what my body was doing, naturally, to deliver.  I would tell myself to go with the flow, just as I do now, every time I drop in on my skateboard.


Patti carving a bowl at the park in Arvada, Colorado.


Amelia Brodka’s Blog: No Room for Women in Skateboarding May 30, 2011

The Skateboard Moms highly recommend Amelia’s new blog:

Amelia’s blog got us thinking about how we can best promote women’s competition in skateboarding and, like Amelia, we’d love to hear about how you think we can help female skaters get the support and exposure they deserve.   We’re considering a number of options, and you’ll be hearing more about that here.


Mighty Mama Skate-o-Rama 2011 Was a Blast! May 26, 2011


Shredsister Chelle carving up the Iquana Bowl during our annual Mighty Mama Skate-o-Rama

Sometimes in life we get so wrapped up in the daily grind, that we forget what it’s like to feel free.  Skateboarding for me is a way to let go of all the junk in my head that stresses me out.  Skateboarding takes me back to that happy place inside myself, where nothing else matters except being in that moment and enjoying it to the fullest.  Being able to attend the Skateboard Moms’ Mighty-Mama-Skate-O-Rama event that happens yearly on Mother’s Day weekend at the Laguna Nigel skatepark gives me an amazing opportunity to forget my worries and just SHRED!  It feels so good to skate with so many awesome women, girls and families, and it all helps promote women’s skateboarding.  

Not only is skateboarding a great form of exercise, it relieves stress, and builds self-confidence.  What attracted me to skateboarding when I was a girl was that I could do it by myself; I didn’t need to be on a team to participate.  My friends and I were the creative types, definitely not the cliquey types.  We wanted to create our own adventures; we wanted to invent new, cool things to do.  That’s exactly why skateboarding was perfect for me.  We could do anything we wanted — any trick off of any obstacle that we could possibly skate.  We absolutely loved it!  

Fortunately for me there are quite a few other gals out there that share my passion.  Even though the years keep passing, our love will never die.  

For me this year’s event went off with a bang right from the airport.  Skatemom Stacey picked me up and off we drove, and drove, and drove, and finally ended up at a killer skate-park in Chino.  The park was small, but had a really nice flow to it, and a little bit of everything to skate.  The locals were ripping and very friendly I might add.  Of course they were stoked to see women skating their park and did their best to bust out gnarly moves to impress us ladies.  I’ll also add that I find this to be a major bonus when arriving at a new skate-park.  It’s almost like getting a free show.  Keep up the good work Chino guys!  I’ll be looking for ya next time.

It takes courage to put yourself out there, outside of your comfort zone. It takes courage to be willing to fall and to pick yourself back up again.  You know it’s gonna hurt when you eat pavement, but you just don’t care!  Some tricks come easy; those are your bread-n-butter.  Some tricks only come once in a while: 10 tries, 20 tries, 31 tries… MAKE!  Wooohooooo!!!!!  That’s all the matters: the feeling that rushes through your whole body, it’s like nothing else!  It’s simply the best!!!  I think the fact that we constantly have to push ourselves to get out there, and push ourselves to progress, is what makes skateboarding so satisfying!

The next day of adventures started at the beach in Carlsbad with some surfing!  The waves were a bit small, but that didn’t stop us from trying.  Stacey and Jane (from Australia) definitely caught a few good ones!  They were looking awesome out there!  You gals did a great job, thanks for showing us how it’s done!   After our surf session, we headed over to the Iguana Bowl.  It was only a short drive from the beach, and we were warmly welcomed by the gracious owners.  The driveway was filled with ramps, which I had a blast playing on in between bowl runs and to warm up on.   The bowl itself is very impressive and super fun to skate!  It is perfect for learning just about anything on.  I sure wish I had one in my back yard!  The evening was going great, and to top it off a whole bunch more rad skater-chicks showed up and shredded up the place.  It turned out to be a big high-light of the trip for me.  Perfect vibe, perfect company, and not too overwhelming, just chill!  Thanks again to our hosts for sharing their super rad digs with our Skatemom posse! 

The big day finally arrived and we were all beyond stoked!  We couldn’t wait to meet up with the whole Skate Mom/Sisters of Shred gang for the always-awesome Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama.  The best part of attending this event for me is knowing that the money we raise during our annual raffle is for a good cause, children’s literacy!  The proceeds this year go to Friends of Children and Literature, aka FOCAL, which is an LA-based charity that brings the magic of reading and books to kids in downtown LA.  Our sponsors are always generous, and this year was no exception.  The raffle prizes were completely drool-worthy.  They totally hooked us up! 

Soon the park was surrounded by whizzing sounds of wheels on concrete, and what a sweet sound that is.  Everybody had a blast!  We listened to the groovy sounds of 70’s music, while riding waves of concrete with perma-grin smiles plastered to our faces.  It was totally tubular, and that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth!  It was all over way too soon, and I had to catch a flight back to Sacramento.  We zoomed off and I made my flight just in the nick.  I was sad to leave, but I will be looking forward to next year’s event!  I made a bunch of new friends and some great memories to last a lifetime.  Until next time So Cal folks, skate or die!!

 ~ Chelle


Risking It February 14, 2011

Filed under: extreme sports,injury,moms,mothers,skateboarding,Uncategorized,women — skateboardmoms @ 8:30 pm

by Patti

I knocked myself out the other day.  I was trying to drop in on a 13-foot vert ramp.  I have no memory of what happened, and there’s no video.  There’s only one picture of my unsuccessful drop, taken milliseconds after I put my front foot on the bolts.  It’s clear from the photo that things had already gone terribly wrong. 

Fortunately, it wasn’t serious.  I have a mild concussion and I tore a muscle in my shoulder.  I’m feeling better every day, and I’m already back on my skateboard.   

I’ve been lucky.  I’ve been skateboarding for almost five years now with only minor injuries.   Wearing my helmet and pads helps keep injuries to a minimum.  But injury is an unavoidable part of skateboarding.  Everyone pays the piper sooner or later.

For me, it’s a worthwhile risk because I love to learn.  It’s thrilling when a new skill finally reveals its secrets.  But learning is a trial-and-error process.  Nothing comes to me for free, and I have to experiment a lot.   That means I fall a lot.  It’s the price of understanding.

There are other reasons why I risk it.  Skateboarding forces me to examine my own beliefs about what I’m capable of.  I’m doing things today on a skateboard that I never thought I’d be able to do when I began.  I’ve learned that the limits of my ability are governed chiefly by my own fears.   When I can get past the fear, the possibilities seem endless.

I also enjoy challenging other people’s perceptions of what I’m capable of.  The skater dudes’ faces light up when they see me grind pool coping for the first time.  Their definition of “skater” has just expanded to include old ladies!  I hope the moms and dads watching from the sidelines rethink their own abilities when they see me trying something new.

And there’s this:  Injuries aren’t fun, but the process of coming back from an injury can be very rewarding.  That’s when you find out what you’re really made of.  It takes determination, patience, persistence and focus.  Those traits are useful in all areas of life.

Truth is, I do lots of risky things in a day.  If I wanted to be as cautious as possible, I’d stop driving.  Being in a car is, by all accounts, the most dangerous thing a person can do.  I’d also stop riding my bike, walking in snow and showering too. 

Who am I kidding?  I’d be bored (and smelly).  And I’d be ashamed of letting my fear get the best of me.

Skateboarding makes me happy, and I feel most alive when I’m doing it.  That’s reason enough to risk it.

Skatemom Patti, back on the horse after two weeks of recuperation.


A mind of its own February 9, 2011

Filed under: extreme sports,humor,kids,moms,mothers,skateboarding,women — skateboardmoms @ 8:38 pm

by Hilja

Today, my car decided it wanted to drive by itself to Lower Woodland Skatepark in my hometown of Seattle during the workday.  As a good car owner, I wouldn’t let it go by itself and had to accompany it.  The car wouldn’t leave until the work day was over and I was forced to stay.  Because of my phone being in the car, I missed a call from my 12-year-old son.  When car was ready to go home, I called my son, but I did not let the boy know where mom and the car were.  I pretended I was still at work.  No information is not a lie.  He would have been bummed that he was stuck at home while mom skated. 

It was sooo much fun!!

Skatemom Hilja, from Seattle, learning to carve at Etnies in California, in December 2010.


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