Published in the Summer 2005 issue • Features
Broads on Boards
Rolling with the Skirtboarders, Montreal’s feisty all-female skate crew
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Instead of getting discouraged, however, crews like Skirtboarders, BOOB and San Diego’s Villa Villa Cola look to each other for support. When they’re not bombing through subway stations and parking lots, they make zines, write articles, shoot videos and organize skate jams. Although Bastien would like to see more women skaters represented in popular media, her own crew is thriving quite well without the help. Chick Flip, the annual all-girl skate contest they organize, saw 15 female skaters from all over Quebec gather at Montreal’s South Parc to compete last summer. And she hopes the scene will continue to grow as younger girls are encouraged to ride.
The way Bastien and Porter tell it, getting started is easy. Unlike snowboarding, which requires thousands of dollars worth of gear as well as access to a mountain, skateboarding is cheap and can be done on the street in front of your house. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of going to a board shop and being glared at by shaggy-haired know-it-alls. “People who work at skate shops are usually pretty open,” says Bastien. “They’re really excited about skateboarding and they’d be stoked to help you out.”
And what about the pain factor? Admittedly, watching videos of Bastien’s friends jerk down staircases and carve through traffic with the occasional face-first landing gave my inner mom heart palpitations. “It never really gets easy, because you never really want to fall,” she says. “But if I’m really motivated, if I’m skating in an intense session with a bunch of people all feeding off each other’s energy, I don’t care. It doesn’t even hurt. Well, it hurts, but you feel something over the pain. I don’t know,” she laughs, “maybe it’s a chemical imbalance or something.”
Bastien spent this past winter in Saint-Sauveur, a small ski-village about 45 minutes north of Montreal, where she could snowboard in the “off season” (or “on season,” depending on what kind of board you prefer). But don’t imagine that skateboarding was too far from her thoughts. She spent the cold months organizing a free skate camp in her hometown of Buckingham, Quebec, so underprivileged kids could learn to ride. Although she admires pro-skaters who stay true to the sport, Bastien’s real idols are the kids who do it for themselves: “The little kid down the street, the little girl who skateboards, that’s a hero to me.”