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Friday, December 14, 2012

The most important skater girls of 2012 (Part One)

The most important skater girls of 2012

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Amelia Brodka, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Time has come to really take a look at women’s skateboarding…
Pictured above: Amelia Brodka at Vans
Yep! In the past 45 years or maybe ever since Patti Mc Gee made the covers of both Time Magazine and Skateboarder magazine, (and only with the exception of a couple of years and a handful of girls here and there), skater girls’ commitment to skateboarding has always been shrouded with obnoxious indifference making them irrelevant to the eyes of the skate media.

Be glad, those days are now gone.


The ascension of girls into full-fledged skateboarders has been the subject of many talks and expectations in the past years. And insiders (including, or maybe just myself) were even saying that 2012 would be the “Year of the Skater Girl”. But months quickly passed and nothing materialized. At best there was Julian Bleecker’s "Hello Skater Girl" book release, there was Underexposed, Amelia Brodka’s awesome documentary (still to be released though…) and a couple of much ballyhooed inserts and pix in mainstream skateboarding magazine.

Of course, some new contests appeared (Exposure 2012 and Rocky Mountain) thanks to skater-led initiative. But in 2011, after a good start, most of the hoopla around skater girls vanished.

In 2012, many sponsoring contracts were not made or not extended, companies downsized and even shed their women’s divisions and many girls were left wondering what their status was. All this among the euphoria around the idea that the tale had unraveled and now was the time…
Underexposed: a documentary film by Amelia Brodka, Co-produced by Brian Lynch. Music: "Clubbin" by Ella Riot. Skaters: (in order of appearance) Amelia Brodka, Nora Vasconcellos, Allysha Bergado, Leticia Bufoni, Julz Lynn, Alexis Sablone, Gaby Ponce, CB Burnside, Lyn-Z Adams-Hawkins, Lizzie Armanto, Eliana Sosco, Jen O'Brien.
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Girl Skaters made #54 at Skateboard Mag annual ranking... Bummer, I though it was #4 at first...
You just can’t but point fingers in every direction; for one sole culprit there is not. We are all responsible of that void, mess and indifference, but as humans, we like to scapegoat a culprit and design the worldwide recession as the stooge of the farce… Whoaa, at least that was not me…

Until a couple of years ago, the few girls who were skating were doing so among blatant indifference.

True, there’s so much talk about the recession in skateboarding and why companies are forced to stock down on their girls stuff because of it, but we are still to see a huge market developing with girls skateboarding…

Gone are the sketchy days: these skater girls of today are ripping and the standard keeps going up.

And with the help of the internet, there is now much more visibility available for girls skateboarding, let alone that mainstream media has now taken an interest in girls skateboarding as well. (Hmm, again, somehow). We are seeing girls skating in commercials, TV shows, and advertisements all the time now.

But the bottom line is Amelia Brodka’s message in Underexposed: “don’t wait for someone to give you exposure, take your own initiative and promote / market yourselves.”

Girls need to continue to make their own things happen to grow women’s skateboarding.

So, since 2012 was not “The Year of the Skate Girl”, will 2013 be? At least, there is a good start: a couple of days ago, the Alliance announced that ESPN's X Games will be adding in two new women's skateboarding contests for 2013! One women's street contest (Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil stop) and one women's park contest (Barcelona, Spain stop) will be added to the Global X calendar along with the pre-existing women's street contest at X Games LA in August!

So, take a look at some of the most important skater girls of 2012 part ONE (part TWO is next week)

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, Exposure 2012, skateboarder Girls
Lizzie Armanto at Exposure 2012. Photo Julian Bleecker

Lizzie Armanto

Birthday: 26th January 1993
Hometown: Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, USA
Lives: Santa Monica / Simi Valley
Favorite Place to skate: Potrero Del Sol
Stance: Regular
2012 WCS Bowl Ranking: #1
Motto: “Do what makes you happy”

Lizzie Armanto has been very hard to follow this year. On top of all the contests and demos she has done in 2012, she spent some time in Kuweit, Barhain and Peru with Ben Hatchell, Seth Ryan Levy and StepUp, a new company that aims to develop and grow skateboarding in countries with limited access through distribution, facilities, clinics, and instruction. She went to Hawaii and to so many states and places during 2012 that I lost the count…

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Lizzie Armanto. Photo coutesy of Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards
Lizzie Armanto started skateboarding in 2007, is 19 years old and has been skating competitively since 2007. In 2011 she dominated both Florida Bowl Riders Cup events, the TriFecta, Ladies Combi and the Tim Brauch Memorial Skate. Her prowess on a skateboard earned her enough points to command a first place ranking three years in a row: 2010, 2011 and 2012. And even if 2013 has not started yet, she might well place #1 in bowl in 2013 also. She has received sponsorship support from Bones Wheels, Indy Trucks, 187 Killer Pads and helmets, Santa Monica Airlines, and others.

We asked Lizzie if she feel that the girls’ level was better in 2012 than previous years and she says that: “It is undeniable that the level of female skating has increased and same with the number of females skating.” 2012 was definitively a year of progression and consolidation for all the girls, but especially for Lizzie who learned to land the “fs inverts, fs bonelesses, and other tricks among others”…

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Lonesome at Vans. Photo Julian Bleecker
Girls Combi Pool Classic, Vans, Girls Protec Pool Party, Lizzie Armanto,  Allysha Bergado,  Mimi Knoop,  Julie Kindstrand, Lyn Z Adams Hawkins, Cara Beth Burnside, Amelia Brodka, Amee Jay Papalera, Nora Vasconcellos, Abby Zsarnay, Jordan Abraham, Kora Gryzb, Melissa Spillman, Annika Vrklan
Lizzie Armanto at Vans during the Combi Classic contest
The number of contest where she went in 2012 is almost limitless. She probably did the major contest of 2012 but she specially remembers: “Florida Bowl Riders, Oregon Fecta, Tim Brauch Memorial, Rocky Mountain Rampage, Georgia Bowl Riders, Exposed and International Skate Festival in Lima.” She finished 1st at Pier Park, Rocky Mt., Tim Brauch and Exposure 2012 (4th in Bow &1s in Vert) which was her favorite contest in 2012. Even with those awesome results, she says she is not sure of her status: “Pro according to contests, Am according to my sponsors.” Kinda depressing no? That might be a time for a change, if the #1 WCS bowl rider is not even sure of being a pro, it seems there is a big problem in the skate industry…

Although you might think she prefers concrete, she actually says that not only she likes both wood and concrete but she also likes concrete and metal coping “I skate everything” she says and she adds that: “Santa Monica is forever my home park even though I hardly skate there.

Her plans or wishes for 2013 are: “Skateboarding, College, and Traveling
Last but not least, we asked her what will be the future for girl skateboarding in 2013 and she said: “I wish I had the answer.”…
Santa Monica: Lizzie Armanto's hometown
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Abby Zsarnay, Ojai Skatepark. Picture Chris Zsarnay

Abby Zsarnay

Birthday: June 5, 1994
Hometown: Born and raised in Santa Paula, California
Favorite Place to skate: Ojai Skatepark!
2012 WCS Bowl Ranking: #3
Motto: Go big or go home!

Abby Zsarnay started skateboarding when she was 2 years old. She had a babysitter that had three boys still living at home. They were all older than her and they all participated in action sports from football to skateboarding. After not too long, they were like her brothers and began to treat her like a little sister. The youngest of the boys, TJ, would dress her up in his football gear and push her down a homemade ramp on
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
a skateboard. Of course, everything has changed since then. Now, she listens to AC/DC and Nickelback and rides the deepest bowl in the USA. Being a girl, she says that ”At first it was very intimidating (to skate with guys) but after a few competitions I earned respect from them once they saw I could skate and was beating half of the boys.” Of course, she prefers concrete an coping blocks…

In 2012, she went through a couple of big changes: “I have gone through my first semester at CSU Channel Islands and I am loving it here.” At contest levels, she “went to the Oregon Unfecta, the Rocky Mountain Rampage in Colorado Springs, and the Tim Brauch contest in San Jose.” She adds that “My favorite contest was the Rocky Mountain Rampage. It was an awesome park!

We asked her what her vision of girls’ skateboarding was for 2013, and she said that: “The girl's level has just taken off in the past year. It's unbelievable what some girls are doing now that a few years ago, no one even came close to doing.” She adds that “Girls are reaching new limits exponentially!!

In 2012, she has perfected many of her tricks and added a few to her bag as well. At contest level, she placed 3rd for the year in the 2011 World Cup Bowl Riders series, and I placed 1st in the Concrete Rodeo National Finals in 2009. And again in 2012, she placed 3rd for the end of the year in World Cup Skateboarding.

Abby lists Amelia Brodka, Nora Vasconcellos, AmeeJay Papalera, Justyce Tabor, Julie Westfall and Spencer Breaux as her favorite skaters.

Abby Zsarnay’s status is pro and her sponsors are: ABEC 11, Skatera, Cheapsk8r, GRO, Össur, Ojai Board Shop, Steezie Beanies, Globe, and my most recent sponsor, OldKooks.
She has no regrets for 2012 and for 2013, she plans to “skating a ton and having loads of fun!

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls, Hello Skater Girl
Nora Vasconcelos at Exposure 2012. Photo Julian Bleecker

Nora Vasconcelos

Birthday: November 28, 1992
Hometown: Pembroke
Favorite Place to skate: Rye Airfield in Rye, NH
2012 WCS Bowl Ranking: #3

Nora Vasconcelos started skateboarding about 8 years ago while she was in middle school and then competed and travelled later when she was in high school.
Nora Vasconcelos is from Boston, she grew up in Pembroke and she used to skate at Rye Airfield in Rye, NH. It’s a 50,000 sq ft indoor skatepark. (Note: Amelia Brodka also used to skate at Rye Airfield before she moved to the west coast).
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Nora Vasconcelos at Exposure 2012. Photo Chris Zsarnay
The park has a vert ramp and a really awesome wooden clover bowl. Unfortunately for Nora, Rye Airfield is an hour and a half away from her home. Her first role models were Bucky Lasek and Lyn-z Adams Hawkins.

So, a couple of months ago and after 19 years on the East Coast, she permanently moved to Southern California “Needless to say I am loving living here…” but she quickly add that “Seeing as it was where I grew up as a skater I would say Rye Airfield in Rye, NH will always be my personal favorite skatepark”.

The reason she moved from Boston to Orange County is that she could “do what I love everyday with my friends. I really want to push my skateboarding and bring surfing back into that picture. Work to help make more of a place for women in skateboarding. Go to school at some point, I’m interested in marketing and design…maybe work in the industry.” At a personal level, she says that “A handful of things have drastically changed in my personal life. I’d say that moving out here has been the biggest change for me, as well as a really great opportunity.

Since she arrived in SoCal she has: “been spending a bunch of time at the Combi, obviously
Nora vasconcellos at Vans during Eddie Elguera Birthday Party.
Photo Nate Mc Donald
the whole park is really rad, always fun sessions going down. I also really enjoy skating at Etnies, but I’m usually up to skate anything.”
Even though she prefers metal coping, she says she like both concrete and wood “but
I’ve been having a lot of fun on the concrete ultimately

Retrospectively, she says 2012 has not been a bad year for women skateboarding. She adds that “Not only has the skate level increased, but so has the number of girls who are skateboarding. There is going to be this whole new generation of girls much younger than myself ripping in the next couple of years. It’s a really cool time to be a part of women’s skateboarding

In 2012, she went to several contests and especially: “I went to The Exposure 2012 event down in San Diego. It was a fantastic contest created by Amelia Brodka and it was a perfect wrap up event for the end of the year, along with her documentary “Underexposed”.

When asked what girl contest she preferred in 2012, she answers; “The Exposure 2012 event was by far the best event I have ever been to in regards to a female skateboarding contest, it has really set the standard for future events.” At Exposure 2012, she placed 2nd in pro bowl and 4th in pro vert.

A pro skater, Nora Vasconcelos sponsors are: Bern, Bones, Converse, Hoopla skateboards, Independent, Nixon, Pioneers Boardshop, Rye Airfield, and now MAHFIA.TV.

Nora Vasconcelos’ vision for the year 2013 is: “I’m really hoping to just continue to push my skating. I look forward to filming and traveling with the Mahfia crew and friends. Now that I’m here, there is so much to enjoy and I am excited for the opportunities skateboarding with give me.” She quickly adds that “There are going to be a lot of great opportunities coming up this year. Whether it’s filming or contests, you will be seeing a lot of the ladies killing it.”

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Arianna Carmona at Venice Skatepark

Arianna Carmona

Birthday: September 9, 1998
Hometown: Born and raised in Buena Park, California
Favorite Place to skate: Vans, Lake Cunningham, Venice, Etnies, and Bucky Lasek's bowl
2012 WCS Bowl Ranking: #10
Motto: That's so sketchy

I must say that I am pretty stoked with Arianna Carmona: she was not even ranked in the WCS results last year (2011), and she enters the WCS results for 2012 at the 10th place, which is pretty awesome. Arianna Carmona is not new in the skate world, I have seen her a lot at Vans, Venice and
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
other skateparks and at lot of contests, but she is definitively new in the top ten of the WCS for the year 2012. Between 2011 and 2012, Arianna’s progression has been amazing and even if the WCS top ten is full of wonder girls, she will definitively be someone to look after in 2013 and might even well finish in the top 5 and switch from Am to Pro if she continues her progression at that rate. One might also want to thank her aunt (she is working at Vans skatepark) for helping her so much for the past 3 years.

Like the other girls on our survey, when asked if she thinks the general level in girl skateboarding is better, she says: “I feel it has”. Her life has changed as well. She says that “I just started High School this year and it keeps me busy, but I'm always finding time to skate.

In 2012, Arianna Carmona went to many contests. Too many to remember actually. I remember seeing her at Upland and Vans, but she also did Fontana North and South, casl at Vans, Tim Brauch and so many others that she says she can’t even remember all of them… She says that she also “attended Amelia Brodka's Exposure contest. It was so much fun and it was great to see so many girls out there.” Exposure was actually Arianna’s best contest. She placed first in the Am bowl, first in the Am vert, and got overall best Am. No wonder she says “I preferred Exposure contest in 2012.

As you may imagine, she prefers concrete but she likes grinding both concrete and metal coping and her favorite parks are Vans, Lake Cunningham, Venice, Etnies, and Bucky Lasek's bowl… but she also adds that: “My home park is Vans.” Arianna’s sponsors are Identity Board Shop and BrokinBonz clothing.
Her wishes for 2013 are to: “get better, learn more tricks, do great in contests, and make more friends.”

When asked what 2013 has in stock, she says: “I think the future for girls skateboarding is more girls coming out and doing it, and hopefully more all girl contests.

She finishes by saying: “Skateboarding has always been there for me and I hope to someday make it my career.

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Mimi Knoop at Bucky's Pool. Photo Dan Sparagna

Mimi Knoop

Mimi Knoop is one of the board members of Hoopla Skateboard and the non-profit organization of female skateboarders Action Sports Alliance (A.K.A“. The Alliance”). She is actually the co-founder of The Alliance and the creator of Hoopla with Cara Beth Burnside. Although her brand has nothing to do with Mike V’s Elephant brand, she says that the elephant, the symbol of Hoopla skateboard brand; defines the brand as “whimsical, fun, chaotic, creative”.

Mimi Knoop was the winner of the Protec Pool Party in 2008 and she earns 5 X-Games medals for which she is one of the best vert/bowl skateboarders in the world who learned to skate while living in Cuba as a kid. Also a graduate of Radford University in Virginia (with a BFA in visual arts), Mimi is a talented multi-media artist
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls, Alana Smith, Exposure 2012 skate contest
Alana Smith & Mimi Knoop at Exposure 2012. Photo JF Vasconcellos
and has shown her work throughout the country. She often does freelance work for companies in the action sports industry, combining her two passions.

In 2012 she was quite busy, as usual. On December 1st, 2012, she just presented 2 pieces of art at the third installment of the annual "Die Posers Die" art show which iconic Dog Town skateboarder Tony Alva hosted. Earlier, she was on a skate tour in Argentina with Poseiden Foundation helping give back to the kids and community there and she was spotted skating with one of our fav: Coco Cianciarulo. She is also working with Dakine on some future collabs… And I of course she designed some new graphics for hoopla coming in Spring 2013 too! She recently designed, tested and launched a new Hoopla cruiser for the holidays and just participated at Exposure, a girl only contest, where one of the Hoopla rider, Alana Smith, landed a 540 mctwist making her the first female skater ever to do so in competition (and the 2nd girl to land a 540 – Lyn-Z was the first)!

Even with all those extra-curricular activities, she still has time for skateboarding professionally. She has been filming the past 8 or 9 months and a part in a video in in the works for the months to come..
She will also be competing in the Vans Combi Pool Classic in January 2013. She actually designed the name and logo for the event for Vans.
Mimi Knoop is sponsored by Nikita, Vans, Nixon,, hoopla skateboards, Independent, Bones,, and 187 pads
Die Poser Die with Cab and Tony Alva
Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Evelien Bouilliart Febble. Photo unknown

Evelien Bouilliart

Evelien Bouilliart is from a small town in Belgium called Aalter, and was born in Brugge in January 1990. She has a regular stance and is skateboarding since 2000.

Evelien first picked up a skateboard when she was just 10 years old. Despite being one of the only girls in the skateboarding circuit in Belgium, Evelien embraced the sport regardless. She broke into the worldwide spotlight in 2005, when she landed 2nd at the X-Games 11 Los Angeles and when she won the Prague Mystic Cup and the Girls Push Jam in Munich. She showed a lot of consistency by winning the Girls Push Jam again the following year and winning the Prague Mystic Cup in 2007. She also got 2nd Place Global Assault Melbourne 2005, 5th Place X-games 13 Los Angeles 2007. She missed X Games 2011 because of a broken right fibula, and is frequently injured when she competes at the X Games. With a consistent presence on the women's street scene, in 2012 "Evie" placed 3rd at the WCS contest in Rome, 9th of 10 at X Games and she won the Helsinki hookup.

Best Skateboarder girls of 2012, Lizzie Armanto, Abby Zsarnay, Nora Vasconcelos, Mimi Knoop, Skateboarding, skateboarder Girls
Evelien Bouilliart usually makes hard tricks seem a piece of cake. With a style that is definitively European, she is known for her rail skills and she has greatly improved on her flips. She loves to do the Flip fs board and blunt. She also tends to do 360 degree flips on slides and grinds. Like a couple of other girls, she is not sure what her status is “I don't really know,” she says, “ I just skate, sponsors don’t invest in a lot of girls that skate, they just give product, so I can't really call myself pro.”

We asked Evelien how the year 2012 treated her and what does she has in stock for 2013…

Does she feel that the girls’ level has soared much more this year than previous years? “If by soared you mean grew, then I'll say yes, there's more girls coming up with great skills, it's very motivating and everyone needs to start pushing their limits!” 2012 has seen a big change in her life since she is now single after a 3 year long relationship.

Skatewise, she learned to do FS Bluntslides on ledges although she was already doing FS bluntslides on rails before.

Usually, US skater girls are complaining that there are not a lot of contests in the USA, but frankly, there are even less in Europe. Even with that, she managed to go to : “the worldcup in Rome, the X-Games and the Helsinki hookup”. But she adds that “I wasn't really feeling any of them, as I wasn’t able to be on full level, but I usually prefer Xgames. This time Helsinki hookup was awesome, because it was my first time there.” “I had major surgery on my calfbone and my big toe, so I had to take it easy, it wasn’t healed up completely, I felt really vulnerable and out of place.

Evelien’s sponsors are Hoopla skateboards, etnies shoes, Nixon Europe, Von Zipper, Rockstar bearings, Bones wheels, Death shred clothing, Zumiez skatepark Belgium

Her choice for best skater girls: Leticia Bufoni, Lacey Baker, Marissa dal Santo, Elisa Steamer, Candy Jacobs, Jennifer Soto and Alana Smith.

Plans or wishes for 2013: “no injuries, getting to skate more, as the weather is bad in Belgium, I rolled my ankle a month ago, and also finish my bachelor in multimedia.

Part II will be published next week...
All pictures copyrighted by the authors and used by permission. Thanks to Nate McDonald, Dan Sparagna, Chris Zsarnay, Julian Bleecker and Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards.

Pre-screening of Underexposed documentary with Amelia Brodka

Additional Reading:

- Abby Zsarnay interview
- Allysha Bergado Interview
- Interview with Ameejay Papelera
- Interview with Amelia Brodka
- Interview with Annika Vrklan
- Interview with Cindy Whitehead
- Interview with world cup skateboardings
- Interview with Jordan Abraham
- Interview with Julie Kindstrand
- Interview with Lyn-z-hawkins
- Interview with Patti Mcgee
- Interview with Patty Segovia

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