I honestly don’t exactly know where it came from. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am one of the most mellow humans on spaceship earth. It may have been my teenage years as a horseback rider—growing up, I cared for and rode a retired thoroughbred race horse. He loved going fast, I learned to. Or maybe it was the MarioKart I played in college, I was for sure a speed demon down every track. But on a skateboard? No way! You can ask my hometown friends, who first showed me SkateHouse videos of James Kelly and Louis Pilloni straight mobbing their skateboards down Malibu canyons. I thought it was absolutely gnarly and radical, but it definitely wasn’t for me—My oh my, how my opinion has changed!
It’s been a slow progression for me to skate fast. I didn’t want to at first. There weren’t many downhill runs close to where I lived at the time, anyways. I was into free-styling on flatland all the time and maybe a few slides here and there. That was it. But just from skating everyday—a couple miles to work, a couple miles to the store, a couple miles for fun with friends—I was getting so comfortable on a big board that I just kept pushing everything a little bit faster.
I messaged Katie Neilson (who I only just recently met, and adore of course) on Facebook and asked her what the deal was with downhill. My opinion was changing —what I was positive I would never do, I was starting to be intrigued by. I was starting to open my mind to it. She asked what my set up was. My only board was a 55″ Loaded Dancer at the time. I found my first step towards maybe skating down hills was in acquiring a proper downhill board—just something pretty stiff, not too big. Ride what you like, but 55″ is huge! Wheels and trucks don’t matter too much at this point in the learning curve. Katie told me just to trust my board and myself—know that I could stop if I wanted to, but don’t stop, just fucking hold on! I was inspired and decided to try and take the Dancer down some mountain roads in Western Massachusetts. I made a tiny bit of progress but could feel that the board was enormous for what I was trying to do. My next board was a little smaller, and that has been the trend ever since.
I was growing a hunger for speed, just barely, so I set up a downhill board and tried a handful more downhill runs in the Northeast. I absolutely hated the consequences for falling, there were times it had me totally bummed on skating. But I kept trying—not skating downhill everyday, but still cruising to work and everywhere else. I was skating so many miles in my hometown everyday. I think this was the time I was most in love with skateboarding in my life, to date. It was the summer of 2011. That August, I went on the Endless Roads video trip with the Longboard Girls Crew. Marisa Nunez guided me down some beautiful runs in Mallorca, Spain. I skated slow and safe but trusted Marisa who I kept just in my view for most of it. Thanks for that, homegirl.
It wasn’t until I moved to California in September 2011 that I experienced the raw intensity of downhill skateboarding. Malibu is a whole different creature than anything I had skated before. I was now arriving at a point in my skating that I wanted to pet the monster. But I wasn’t ready, and I paid for it! I gave so much skin to the roads of Southern California that it makes me queasy to think about. In the beginning I was constantly off my board with one injury after another. I really broke myself off, to be honest. My body will never be the same. The learning curve is steep here, and at times completely frustrating. But I learned what I could and couldn’t do…yet. I was balls-deep now.
I took it slow and steady for two years in Malibu and sometimes I was heckled for it, but I didn’t listen. I knew my limits and I didn’t push them too hard—just a little at a time. I got on board with Riviera Skateboards last year, and they gave me the unbelievable opportunity to design downhill boards however I wanted, so I designed, developed, and destroyed a few boards that will be available September 2013. I started racing on a board that I made custom to my feet and style (my Riviera pro-model), but I didn’t consider myself much of a racer when I first started. In the beginning, I swore I couldn’t be competitive, I didn’t have any urge to go for it. See, I’m a laid-back cat. But after four sanctioned races under my belt, I felt solid when I headed to the 2013 Maryhill FOS. At last, I was feeling like a true downhiller, I had earned every scar in Malibu. I felt comfortable skating as fast as I could down a road like Maryhill, and I had no problem skating super close to the girls there. So I went for it.
The semi-finals was the best heat I’ve ever had in my life. Katie Neilson, Alicia Fillback, Victoria Waddington, Anna O’Neill, and Tamara Prader fought for it the whole way down. I made it to the front of the pack about a quarter of the way down and never looked back. I could see their shadows out of the corner of my eyes and feel them breathing down my neck, but I held it together until the end.
The finals heat was the most stressful racing I’ve ever done in my life. Katie Neilson, Alicia Fillback, Spoky Woky, Georgia Bontorin, Elena Corrigall, and I battled it out in the beginning, down about six turns. I was on Georgia’s ass when we rubbed wheels in a straight. She was making defensive moves I had honestly never seen before, and before I knew what happened, I was falling. We were in such a tight pack that five of us fell like dominos. There’s a video of it, it’s ugly and luckily no one was hurt. Elena was the only one to avoid the crash and placed first. We all scrambled for our boards, confused and angry. It was a harsh reality-check in racing—the first time I was in it to win it, thinking I really had a shot, shit hits the fan. That’s racing! But I think I’m starting to like it, I just have to let myself. I knew I wasn’t ready to race Angie’s Curves this year, but I’m already thinking about how much fun I will have racing it next year. I’m patient; I know my limits.
Anyway, I just wanted to give a background of how my downhill skating and racing came to be, and why I couldn’t help but charge down Maryhill at the She-Ride the other weekend. I have this addiction—a need for speed. It’s something I never expected, and I’m embracing the pure rush of it because I’m finally comfortable enough on a skateboard to do so. Expect nothing, but be open to everything. You will find yourself doing amazing things you never knew you could do.