These All-Girl Skate Crews In Latin America Are Pushing Back On Sexist Ideas About Women In Extreme Sports
Donning a traditional black bowler hat, a lace long-sleeve shirt and a pollera skirt, Aide Choque glides up and down a ramp in La Paz, Bolivia. She’s a member of the all-girl skate crew ImillaSkate, a collective of young women in the South American country that skateboards while wearing Indigenous garbs. Their objective: to simultaneously attract more women to the action sport while also preserving and spreading awareness about their cultural traditions and styles.
“I love this sport, I love my culture and I love being a woman, and that is what motivates me to continue,” Choque, who hails from the central Bolivian region of Cochabamba, told Yahoo News!.
The five-person crew often pairs their cholita ‘fits with Vans or Nike SB shoes, a visual example of how the young women are merging their customs with the skate subculture. The group’s name, ImillaSkate, is a linguistic combination of Aymara and English words that means girl and skateboarding.
While many of the skaters are beginners, their collective recently competed in a virtual international tournament of all-girl skate crews this summer. From August to September, skaters from Mexico and Central and South America linked up for the Juego de S.K.A.T.E. Femenil. The competition, which streamed live via Zoom because of the Covid-19 pandemic, emphasized the growth of all-female skate crews across Latin America and the hunger these athletes have to widen representation for women in extreme sports.
“Here it is mostly men who practice [skateboarding],” Milenda Limachi, a member of ImillaSkate, said. “But the world will know that in Bolivia there are women who do it.”
Here, we spotlight five Latin American all-girl skate crews building communal spaces and forging their way in an often sexist and exclusive sport.
1. Las Skatas Nicaragua
Founded in 2013, Las Skatas Nicaragua is a skate collective in Nicaragua. With about 17 members, the Central American group often hits local skate parks together, teaches one another tricks and competes in national and international competitions. On Instagram and Facebook, they regularly share videos of their members performing (or falling on their backsides while trying to execute) ollies and flips, all to inspire women and girls of various athletic levels to take on the action sport.
2. Chicas en Llamas
Chicas en Llamas is a Peruvian all-women skateboarding collective. Launched in 2018 in the capital city of Lima, the South American group sees itself as more than just a collective that convenes to tear up ramps and grind rails together. Their mission is also political. Chicas en Llamas is intentional about ending sexism in skateboarding and challenging gender norms. Among their objectives is to change the mentality and experiences of women in sports to create a culture that is equal, just and accessible. And they mean it. When new women’s skate crews pop up in the country, Chicas en Llamas don’t see them as rivals. Instead, they celebrate the growth and change happening for women in sports in Peru.
3. Catrachas Skate
In Honduras, the women of Catrachas Skate are most interested in creating a multigenerational space for women who skate. It’s their hope to inspire generations young and old to take on the extreme sport. So far, they’ve been successful. Founded in 2015 by just five women, the crew has grown immensely. In the past five years, they’ve taught women and girls how to skate and have competed nationally and internationally.
4. Skategirl Colombia
Back in South America, Skategirl Colombia merges skating, art and politics. They see themselves as a learning space, both teaching newbies the sport as well as raising awareness about important issues impacting women and girls in their community. When the young women aren’t gliding on half-pipes, ramps or street curbs, they are educating the public on feminist activism history, encouraing folks to perform breast self-examinations and, most recently, leading virtual workshops on gender-based violence and self-defense.
5. Cero Tímida
Through Costa Rica’s Cero Tímida, women skaters are inspiring their counterparts to overcome trepidations and take on action sports that society falsely taught them are not safe or acceptable for women and girls. Offering skate lessons and hosting events and competitions, Cero Tímida isn’t just working to undue sexist conditioning about women in exteme sports; they’re also creating spaces for beginners to learn, make mistakes and grow, without embarrassment or harassment from men.