Anyone who thinks women have equality can look to continued the lawsuits and struggles for acceptance for equal pay in the sports world. It can be really depressing. Those who need a jolt of positivity can watch the new documentary Skate Dreams, the first film ever made about the rise of women’s skateboarding. It features profiles on successful female skateboarders and shows the trajectory from hopefuls around the world doing it for themselves in the 80s and 90s to their representation at the Tokyo Olympics. Skate Dreams is directed by Peabody Award-winning director Jessica Edwards, and boasts a list of below-the-line talent made up almost exclusively of women.

Among those profiled are US Women’s Olympic Skateboarding coach Mimi Knoop. Americans Nicole Hause, Nora Vasconcellos and Jessica Bailey are also featured, as is Cambodian Kouv “Tin” Chansangva. The film shows a powerful subculture of girls learning and excelling at skateboarding that has been growing since the 80s. Major players early in the development of the sport are Mimi Knoop, Lisa Whitaker, and Cara-Beth Burnside. Burnside was the first woman to appear on the cover of Thrasher Magazine in 1989, at a time when, ironically, she could only make money through a parallel career in snowboarding. Knoop and Burnside instituted a boycott at the 2005 X-Games that led to greater inclusion for women in the sport. Lisa Whitaker was filming girls skateboarding over 20 years ago, and started a website called Girls Skate Network, which exposed folks on the internet to the power and skill of female skateboarders, and led to an increased interest for girls taking up the sport around the world.

Of the newer guard, Nora Vasconcellos stands out as building a particularly successful pro career. Her name is on all the elements of her skateboard, with sponsorships that include June Shine, Stance Socks, and Hume, and was the first female to sign on the Adidas skateboarding program.

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