July 24, 2013- HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA. Thousands of excited people, radiant sunshine and the sound of crashing waves made for a beautiful backdrop to an equally beautiful bowl. The top women and girls of skateboarding lined the coping of the Marseilles replica smiling with gratitude at the opportunity to be a part of the Van Doren Invitational at the U.S. Open.
The artfully decorated bowl was filled with fun lines, gadgets, and gaps galore. The refreshingly small transitions allowed a mix of styles to participate in the contest. The people in the packed stands were in for a treat: The audience got to experience a spectrum of skateboarding ranging from the edgy street stylings of Vanessa Torres to the polished transition skills of Lizzie Armanto.
Nearly 20 girls and women from Australia, Brazil, Poland, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, New England and California were invited. Each competitor skated well and interpreted the bowl through an individual language of tricks and lines. Unfortunately, there was only room for 6 in the finals.
As I saw how well each girl was able to use the bowl to her advantage, I was sure that I did not make the tight cut to finals. When they announced the qualifier results, I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled to have been given the opportunity to take a few more runs in such an incredibly fun bowl. I jumped back in to play around with feebles and blunts to fakie, reverts and grinds.
Allysha Bergado always secures a spot in the finals and then turns up the heat. She threw textbook front smiths, inverts and bonelesses all over the bowl, always staying on for the full 40 seconds.
Hunter Long has an aggressive style and a love for gaps. She lipslid up the eyeball, then came back round and gapped over it. She threw everything from bean plants to fakie on the spine to inverts on the vert wall.
A confidently padless Nora Vasconcellos was in her element in this bowl. She popped big ollies over every hip, threw big stylish airs, lengthy 5-0 to fakies and had fun with some early grab disaster combinations.
Julz Lynn was as relentless as ever. Her incredible speed and spontaneous roll-ins made it difficult for Neal Hendrix to announce her run. Julz threw herself over every hip and 5050d the vert wall over the spine, connecting trucks to coping throwing speedy grinds onto every wall and airs over every hip.
Lizzie Armanto's style adequately reflects the role of a professional skateboarder: she makes difficult skateboarding maneuvers look effortless and natural. She flowed flawlessly between sections, locking into lengthy technical grinds and floating into airs with perceived ease. Her grace and precision lead her to yet another well-deserved first place.
The energy of the crowd, the backing from Vans and the support from some of the most prominent members of the skateboarding industry accurately reflect the rapid progress of women’s skateboarding. As opportunities such as the Van Doren Invitational continue to present themselves, the world of women’s skateboarding is sure to thrive.
Among the many, many "thank you"s that need to be delivered in response to this event, Steve Van Doren, Vans and Mimi Knoop should be praised for creating such a powerfully successful event!
1. Lizzie Armanto
2. Julz Lynn
3. Nora Vasconcellos
4. Hunter Long
5. Allysha Bergado
6. Amelia Brodka
/ Photos by Dan Sparagna