Wheels of Fortune 7
Seattle, WA Kristin Ebeling– When I was 19, I traveled in a packed van to Winnipeg, Manitoba with Skate Like a Girl to skate in a contest called Chicks Flip Out. Upon arrival, I saw a giant plaza skate park filled with female skaters from all over the world, a DJ playing M.I.A., and an emcee hyping up the crowd. I didn’t think contests like this existed, especially not for girls. I walked away from this event not only with a trophy and a check for a thousand bucks, but also a vision to do something similar in my hometown. I’ve always had a knack for puns, so on the long drive home I started brainstorming names, and thus the idea of the Wheels of Fortune: Female Skateboard Showcase was born. Over the next 6 months, with the help of Marshall Reid and Nancy Chang, I eagerly planned the logistics, spray-painted old Barbies for trophies, and begged local reps for prizes. The day of the contest finally came and brought together a solid 30 female skaters of varying backgrounds and abilities. After the success of our first Wheels of Forutne, I knew it was going to continue as an annual event.
Unfortunately, 7 years later, Wheels of Fortune is still one of few international competitions that solely focuses on females. Due to it’s unique nature, it has grown tremendously since it’s humble beginnings. Over the years, we’ve seen participation steadily climb in our various divisions such as: 12&Under, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Golden Girls (30+). Further, what once was just a one-day event, has now become a weekend of activities including a Friday MAHFIA.tv LADIEZ NITE “Welcome Party” and a Saturday Skate Witches “Queen of the Road” challenge, on top of the main event. For 2016, Skate Like a Girl partnered with the Womens’ Skateboarding Alliance and ESPN, elevating the Advanced division to the first ever global female skateboarding qualifying contest for X Games.
Wheels of Fortune 7 was definitely the biggest and best yet. Friday night had hundreds of female skaters, family members, and friends gathered at Hilliard’s Brewery to socialize and watch some of the newest female skateboarding films. Tons of raffle prizes were given out thanks to our generous sponsors, and special gifts and recognition were made to women who traveled as far as Japan and Russia to attend. Saturday started off with a girl skater takeover of Green Lake skate park and photo/video session. Then, the Skate Witches crew announced the rules for “Queen of the Road” – an Instagram based competition inspired by Thrasher’s KOTR. Like a scavenger hunt, teams of lady skaters were tasked with completing various challenges, like holding hands while performing a trick, kickflipping a longboard, and telling a guy he’s “pretty good at skateboarding for a guy”. After a few hours, we all met back up in the evening for a pizza party and skate session at All Together Skate Park. Finally, Sunday came, surprisingly with just as much energy as the previous two days. Nearly 30 various volunteers ensured everything rolled smoothly from registration, to announcements, to awards. Over 100 women from all over the world competed in various divisions in front of a packed crowd of hundreds. The day ended with awarding 2 girls “wild card” spots to complete at this year’s ESPN X Games Austin – Jen Soto (New Jersey, USA) and Aori Nishamira (Japan). It would be impossible to express my fullest gratitude for everyone who made this WOF weekend possible, but I want to close by again expressing my fullest appreciation to all of those involved!
MAFIA.TV’s Wheels of Fortune 7 video recap
Moving forward, my vision is for Wheels of Fortune to be an integral stepping stone on a “path to pro” for female skateboarders, similar to Tampa Am on the guys’ side. Along with this, I hope to get more recognition and support from media and sponsors. Female skaters are the fastest growing niche in skateboarding, so it’s only a matter of time until everyone jumps on board with what we’re doing. One of my major goals is to cover all of our event costs, but also give out prize money that’s comparable to Street League and X Games. Right now, even the top female pros can’t actually skate professionally due to the lack of financial support on our side of the aisle. X Games Gold Medalists like Lacey Baker keep day jobs to stay afloat financially. Further, I also would love to help support travel and accommodations costs of athletes travelling to improve accessibility for up-and-coming global competitors. Most importantly though, I want WOF to retain a grassroots, lighthearted, and community culture. It has to remain authentic. I’ve been excluded for years from the male-dominated culture of skateboarding, so I refuse to put together an event that isn’t inclusive of all women.
If you missed out this year, no sweat, here’s a photo recap.
See you in 2017 for Wheels of Fortune 8 – May 5-7th @ All Together Skate Park!