From Avril Lavigne's timeless "Sk8r Boi" to Tony Hawk being everyone's immediate go-to image of a professional skateboarder, it can feel like ladies get left out of the game entirely...until now! (And I'll be real with you--it was pretty difficult to write this entire blog article without completely overusing exclamation marks.)
Here are 14 skater girls you should know--some that paved the way, and some that keep on paving.
1. Patti McGee
Any list of killer female skateboarders starts with (or should start with) Patti McGee. Hailed as the first female professional skateboarder, she first started skateboarding on a board her brother built in wood shop. Then, in 1964, she set the world record for the fastest girl on a skateboard during Dick Clark's World Teen Fair. In 1965, she was the first female national skateboard champion, and was featured (doing a handstand!) on Life Magazine.
And if that weren't enough, she was also the first female to ever be inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. But, you know--all in a day's work.
2. Cara Beth Burnside
Cara Beth Burnside is one of the classics, and she's got plenty of firsts under her name, too--first woman to have a signature skate shoe, and first president of the Action Sports Alliance. In 2004, World Cup Skating named her Female Vert Skater of the Year, and she has won more than 16 titles to date.
Also, fun fact--nobody seems to know if her name is Cara Beth, Carabeth, or Cara-Beth, and yet she's on so many lists when people talk about their childhood inspirations.
3. Jen O’Brien
Self-described as a teen into skateboarding and punk music, O'Brien moved to Daytona immediately after high school and got her first job at the local skatepark there...and then moved on to California with fellow female skater Jodi McDonald.
What'd she do once she got there? Oh, you know, not much...just negotiated with the X Games about getting girls involved, became the first girl to skate at the X Games (and won a silver her first time out!), formed The Alliance so that the women of the X Games could communicate as a singular voice and negotiated first-place prize money for women from $2,500 up to $15,000.
She's also been a long-time environmental activist, and has an organic garden and a daughter named Lotus.
4. Leticia Bufoni
Born in Sao Paolo, this Brazilian-American skateboarder came to SoCal for the X Games when she was just fourteen. During that trip, her dad watched her while she practiced an inward heel flip, and said if she landed the trick, she could stay in California--and the rest is history.
She landed it on the next try and went on to be sponsored, get ranked the #1 Women's Street Skateboarder by World Cup Skate four years in a row, and become the only female athlete to win 3 X Games gold medals in the same year.
5. Elissa Steamer
Elissa also started skateboarding at 14, and became a professional at age 20 when she was sponsored by Ed Templeton's brand Toy Machine. In 2004, the first year the Women's Street event was introduced at the X Games, Elissa took home the gold--and then she took home the gold again 2005, 2006, and 2008.
She also became the first-ever playable female character in the Tony Hawk video game series, no doubt inspiring swathes of other young skater girls.
6. Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins
Lyn-Z has plenty of cred apart from her cool name--she was the first female skater to skate the DC Mega Ramp, AND the first female to land a 540 McTwist during the Quiksilver Tony Hawk Show in Paris, France (which sounds both highly specific and incredibly cool.)
She's also an X Games gold-medal winner--twice for Women's Vert. She was the second playable female skater in the Tony Hawk video game series.
7. Peggy Oki
Peggy Oki is right up there with the original way-pavers as the only female skater on the original Zephyr Competition Team (the Z-Boys) in the 1970s. For years, she's been an environmental activist, and in 2012, she was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.
8. Vanessa Torres
Vanessa Torres is a skater girl of Mexican descent, and another female skater to make it into the hallowed halls of the Tony Hawk video game series, popping up on screen right after Lyn-Z. But in 2003, she also, like, became the first-ever female skateboarder to win a gold medal at the X Games, or something--eh, not really a big deal, amiright? (She won the street course, specifically.)
9. Lucy Adams
Lucy Adams took first in UK Skateboard Champs FIVE YEARS IN A ROW, and now coaches skateboarding, so she can fill the world with other young, plucky skaters. She's also involved with She-shredders, an organization that helps build a community of female skaters in Brighton, and is being considered for the 2020 Olympics!
10. Hillary Thompson
Hillary Thompson is famous as the first openly transgender skater--or, at least, the first openly transgender skater who's getting media attention. She's not a professional skater, but her story continues to help diversify the world of skateboarding.
11. Lizzie Armanto
Lizzie Armanto has won over 30 skateboarding awards in her young life. She started skating at age 14 (why is that the age for everyone?) in 2007, and placed first overall in the World Cup of Skateboarding points race from 2010-2012. She also took home the gold at the first-ever Women’s Skateboard Park event at the X Games in Barcelona, Spain.
12. Nora Vasconcellos
A young lover of the TV show Rocket Power and an admirer of Lyn-Z, Massachusetts-native Vasconcellos was destined to skate. She actually became a competitive surfer in middle school, and started skating bowls to cross train...until her focus shifted. She competed it the X Games in 2010.
13. Alexis Sablone
Start the applause for Alexis Sablone RIGHT NOW and don't stop until you're finished reading this paragraph. She's an Ivy League graduate from Columbia University, and just got her Master's in Architecture from MIT in January 2016. She's also the defending XG gold medalist, and won 2 gold and silver medals consecutively from 2009 and 2012. and has 2 gold and silver consecutively from 2009 and 2012.
She also took 2nd at the Kimberly Cup in October 2014, and 2nd on the 2015 World Cup Skateboarding Tour.
14. Candy Jacobs
A skater girl from the Netherlands, Candy Jacobs has a very particular origin story. When she was 13, she got a skateboard for Christmas. Her mom dropped her off at the skate park, said, "I'll be back in 2 hours," and Candy's been hooked ever since.
In 2009, she competed in the European skateboarding championships and took home 1st place. In 2011, she placed 6th in the LA X Games, and in 2014, she placed 1st in the Barcelona Extreme.
Who are your favorite skater girls? Let us know in the comments!