- Published on Monday, 26 May 2014 13:59 26 May 2014
- Written by AMARA MCLAUGHLIN AMARA MCLAUGHLIN
The exposed world of Calgary's female skateboard community after its last competition.
Tasheena Dunn remembers the excitement she felt when she discovered a flyer for the See Jane Skate Competition in 2007 while buying skate shoes at West 49 — a skateboard shop — in Calgary.
The competition was the first and only all-female skateboard event in Calgary.
"I remember seeing the flyer and thinking this is amazing, I've never seen anything like this before being an avid skateboarder for most of my life," says Dunn, who became involved in organizing the event.
See Jane Skate, founded by Anne Weeks in 2004, began at the indoor mobile skate park in Village Square Leisure Centre and was held annually for six years.
However, four years ago Calgary lost it's only all-girl skateboard competition — a loss for the local women's skateboard community. But there are signs that the community is making a comeback.
Produced by: Amara McLaughlin
Filling a need
Weeks has been an avid skateboarder since the age of 18 and would attend local skateboard competitions as a spectator. At these events she said she noticed female skaters seemed to be intimidated competing in the men's field — and not many of them would enter.
In response, Weeks , 33, founded See Jane Skate, an event where women could come, skate and compete amongst each other.
According to Weeks the event grows solidarity amongst other girls when they had a way to skate together in a less intimidating environment.
"I think that's a good way for girl skaters to grow their skills," she says.
See Jane Skate also gave girls the opportunity to meet others with a passion for skateboarding, allowing them to compete against each other in a safe and welcoming environment.
"I didn't really know any girl skaters before I entered the (See Jane Skate )," says Erica Jacobs, who is now a board member with the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts (CASE). "But I met some of my best friends there and we still skate together."
Even former professional female skater Tamara Jones was "stoked for an all-girls contest."
"It was the first legit contest with a big group of ladies," said Jones, who attended See Jane Skate when she was 16. She won the competition in 2009 as a member of the Skate Like a Girl skate troop and also eventually competed in the DC Nationals and the X Games.
In fact, according to Weeks, "a lot of girl skaters do go out together and skate in groups because the female skaters usually are the minority."
No overnight success
But being the first all-girls competition in Calgary, organizers had to work hard to coordinate the event and reach a fragmented women's skate scene.
While promoting See Jane Skate, Dunn now 32, struggled to get girls to register for the competition and spectators to come out to the event — despite securing sponsorships and prizes from companies such as New Line Skateparks, Industry Skate, the Source and West 49.
In fact, Dunn says she would run after girls she saw on skateboards at skateparks or in the streets of Calgary with flyers for See Jane Skate and ask them to register in the competition, or at the very least check it out in hopes they would participate the following year.
Dunn and Weeks put posters up at parks and shops trying to reach out and involve as many girls as possible in women's skateboarding.
Rising from the ashes
But after See Jane Skate's six-year run, the competition ended abruptly when Weeks moved to Tofino, B.C. for work.
Due to the way the competition had struggled in the past in the skateboard community as an all-girls event, Dunn was unable to continue with it alone.
Jacobs says besides herself, there are only two other women involved in CASE's mission to make skateboarding more accessible, especially to women, in Calgary.
But there are signs that women's skateboarding is making a comeback in the region.
In 2012, three years after See Jane Skate's last competition, the Town of Okotoks hosted its first Go Girl day at the Okotoks Recreation Centre.
Go Girl is held in June and offers girls ages nine to 15 the opportunity to participate in a variety of physical activities.
Of the activities offered, the girls skate clinic, taught by Jacobs, had 55 registrants, making it the most popular clinic at this event.
"The goal is to introduce girls to skateboarding," says CASE board member Jacobs.
Jacobs hopes to see enough interest generated to again be able to hold all-girls competitions, giving female skateboarders a place to show off their talent and grow together.