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!

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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.

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Patti skating the park in Heber City, Utah

 

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

The Skateboard Moms highly recommend Amelia’s new blog:

http://ameliabrodka.com/2011/05/24/no-room-for-women-in-skateboarding/

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

 

… so, that’s why i decided to start skateboarding. January 28, 2009

pattiwheeling

i watched shaun white win his gold medal on the halfpipe at the winter olympics in nagano. he looked like he was having so much fun!  he was always laughing and joking around, even during the stiffest competition of his life.

i was 39, and i was tired. i had spent my whole life working 60-80 hours a week, volunteering in my off time, and raising a kid. i rarely laughed, and i yelled at my 6-year-old daughter more than i wanted to admit. i wanted to have more fun, and be silly like the Flying Tomato! i thought about learning to snowboard, but there’s no snow here. then i saw shaun do a mctwist on a skateboard, and that’s all it took! i wanted to know what it was like to fly in the air like that. i knew i’d have to work hard. i figured it would take about a year to learn to skate like shaun white. 

one day, i asked my dad to take care of my daughter, and drove to the local skate shop. i parked the car and took a deep breath. i prepared myself for ridicule. i didn’t know anyone who skated, and i was sure there were no adult skaters in my area. i walked in and told the 17-year-old street skater behind the counter that i wanted to learn to skate ramps and bowls. i had no idea what to buy, i had never set foot on a skateboard. the store clerk stared at me for a good minute (or what seemed like it), and then went to work. he showed me different boards, trucks and wheels. he explained the virtues of each, and let me choose after narrowing the selection down to two or three. an hour later, i had a really nice first setup. he suggested that i buy a helmet and some pads, as well as some special shoes. i thought all of that might be unnecessary, but followed his advice anyway. the store owner rang me up. he said that i’ll fall a lot at first, and that most women prefer longboarding.

i took my shiny new board home, and stood on it for the first time in the living room, on the carpet. i fell almost immediately, and my dad laughed. my wrists hurt! i laughed too.

see? it was already working. 

in the last three years, my job has been on autopilot, i’ve quit most of my volunteer work, and i’ve suffered more injuries than i have in all my other years put together, all the direct result of skating. it makes me sad sometimes when i think of what’s gone, but i can’t say that i regret any of it. for the first time, i’m being true to myself. i’ve laughed more, learned more and loved more than i have in all my other years put together. and i don’t yell at my daughter anymore.

 

Better Parenting Through Skating April 2, 2008

Filed under: extreme sports,kids,moms,mothers,skateboarding,women — skateboardmoms @ 4:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

by Karen Rennie

I have been asked many times why I let my young son skateboard. People suggest he might pick up bad habits or foul language from the older kids who skate. My response is always that hanging out with skaters has made my son Chris a better person.

“Isn’t he missing a lot by not playing TEAM sports?”
I hear that question all the time. We have done the soccer and baseball thing. We paid the money to join leagues that other parents didn’t want to volunteer for. We learned that the soccer commissioner was hiding money, the baseball commissioner was stacking his team with the leagues best players only to be certain that that the opposing team cheated when his “superteam” lost. When adults started expecting their kids to “toughen up” (There’s no crying in baseball) while they coached them with loud voices and pointed fingers in faces, we decided that this team sport thing was really cutting into our family time and values.

Watching Chris’ continued attempts to use a pitching machine long after her son gave up, a playmates mom asked me how I taught Chris to persevere. I am certain that he learned perseverance at the skatepark. He learned at a very early age that the key to success is practice. At age 4 my son would try all day to land the same trick. If he didn’t succeed, he would return the next day to try again. You don’t walk into a skatepark and drop into a ramp the very first time. You have to fall. You have to pick yourself up. You have to figure out what you did wrong and correct the problem.

When Chris did finally land a trick he had attempted for days, the other skaters would cheer- not because he was doing something no one else could do- but because he achieved a personal best. Skateboarding teaches you to set personal goals and to cheer on those who achieve them. It doesn’t matter if you are landing a 720 over a 20-foot gap, or you are landing your very first kickflip. If you have tried to achieve something you set your mind to and practiced again and again- the skate community is there to cheer for you and congratulate you. People that skate together often are a team; they are a team of people working to achieve their personal best.

“How did he learn to skate like that?”
Skaters share secrets. Skaters teach each other. Skaters seem to only complete seriously with each other for money, and usually in a friendly manner. Ever watch a televised skating event? Notice how the people competing seem to know each other and cheer each other on? That’s because when big business isn’t involved in offering tons of money to these skaters to skate against each other, they are usually skating with each other. They were probably together at a backyard ramp or pool the week before the competition skating together.

In backyards across the neighborhood my son has developed an understanding of protocol, hierarchy. He shows respect for elders- and just people in general. You can’t just walk into someone’s backyard and drop into his or her pool or ramp. You have to be invited. You have to show respect. You don’t just assume you have a right to skate there. No one owes you anything. You have to earn the privilege to skate there by showing respect and waiting your turn. You have to be a good enough person for someone to invite you along in the first place.

In skateparks it’s a little more difficult- but the end result is usually the same. There are those parents who use the skateparks as “concrete babysitters”. Parents who drop their kids off at the park on their way to the manicurist or to go have a beer at the sports bar. These are the same parents who don’t want to do their volunteer work for the soccer league. The difference is that eventually the skate community will teach these kids how to behave. Even if the parents don’t want to watch their kids to cheer them on, the other skaters will, and eventually the kids will want to be accepted in the skating community. If they continue to have a bad attitude, they won’t have anyone to skate with. They won’t be invited to the backyard ramp, or they will be vibed out of the park.

I’ve been asked so often if I am afraid of him getting hurt. Of course I am. As a mother I am afraid every day for his safety. But I have to say; he has gotten hurt much more severely just walking off the back porch and not paying attention. When he’s skating he wears pads and a helmet and he has a deep mental focus on what he is doing. I believe it is safer than chasing a ball at high speed during an intense competition with no pads.

“What about the older kids he is exposed to?”
In team sports the kids are grouped together by similar age. I have to say that I’m not sure if competition among similarly aged kids is a good thing. When each kid is expected to conform to a group and vying for the coaches or parents attention, there can be a lot of bullying. In skating- the older kids are just happy to see a young kid getting excited about skating. I have been told more than once by these older kids that they wished they had a mom that supported their skating.
I tell them someday they will be better parents through skateboarding.

At schools where they are trying to find a way to have “sports” without competition- skateboarding is the answer. If we want to build confidence in our kids, and get them involved in a physical activity, we should have skating as an after school activity in our elementary schools. The best thing we can do for our community is build more skateparks.

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Karen, her husband, and her son Chris in the Ridiculous Pool!

 

 
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