The only thing I had really ever known about Maryhill before actually going there was that it was a sacred place. Like some kind of proverbial downhilling court reserved for all those who belonged to the order of the shred. A sort of bourgeoisie salon for the downhilling elite. I mean, all I had ever seen or known about Maryhill was derived from either the hollowed ramblings of someone who had actually made the pilgrimage, or from the pixelated YouTube videos and photos that poured forth onto my Facebook feed. Looking through these photos was like gazing into another world. Packs of full-faced, leather-suited figures in tight formation. Adorned in flashy colors; reds, blues, greens, yellows. Parading around like knights in coats of sponsor endorsed armor. I had always imagined it to be a test of sorts, or maybe even a personal proof of achievement. When you skated Maryhill you were welcomed into an exclusive club. You earned a measure of respect just by attending. Maryhill was a place I had always known to be special, but beyond that and whatever assumptions I had made, it was just simply that, a special place.
The wind that day was hot and dry. It tossed my hair about and blew at my tank top. A scratchy metallic voice chimed in from the radio clipped to my belt. “Riders on course”. I hurriedly nestled down into my spot between the hay bales on the corner. There was more howling from the wind. The long drawn out wooshing sound from the blades of a nearby windmill. I readied my camera and focused in on the spot in front of me. Taking my time to dial in my shutter speed and f-stop settings, I made sure that if anyone came into my frame, I was going to get the shot. The vibe in that moment could only be described as electric. I could feel the cold wash of anxiousness creeping up from my stomach. I nearly jumped when I heard the faint sound of urethane wheels approaching. With sweaty palms I exhaled and steadied my camera, I was ready.
Within moments the wind was screaming at me to cower back away from the edge of the track. Ten or so skaters, only about an arms length away, blasted by my camera lens with huge amounts speed and velocity. The tail wind only acting to push them down the course faster. My motor drive engaged, I rattled off photos as quickly as I could, doing my best to capture as much action as possible as they rounded the corner. And then, almost as quickly and as furiously as they had arrived, they were gone., hurtling off around the next corner and down towards the bottom. As the wind settled down, and the remnants of shedding hay bales twirled their way back to sleep, I brought my head up from above the viewfinder. Almost instantly I was overwhelmed with a dizzying rush of stoke. “YEAH!”, I jumped to my feet and hollered in their wake. You see, this time was special. This time was different in regards to one element. One minute detail that seemed to multiply itself into one massive overwhelming ball of awesomeness. These skaters, surfing and raging their way down the infamous, sacred Maryhill, were all girls.
Making the pilgrimage to Maryhill is, as I later found out, very much a sacred event. You earn a sense of connection there that I believe is very hard to find any place else. By shredding Mary’s curves and bends, you forge a deep sense of connection and trust with those around you. Bombing down hills is one thing, but riding in a tight pack on Maryhill is something else entirely. I get it now, the appeal of it. Before it was just a special place, but now it’s so much more then that. Maryhill is a bond between individuals who have lived the experience. Individuals who have shared the thrill of drafting a line of skaters into a tight, twisting bend. The delight of kissing the apex on the inside and then rocketing out of the corner, everyone right there with you. Smiles, props, and shakas at 45 miles per hour. For a lot of these ladies, this was a right of passage. An induction into that court, that exclusive domain. It’s a warm, comforting feeling you get. It’s a sign of a healthy community. It’s the sign of a domain where gender isn’t really a deciding factor anymore. It’s a realization that a skateboard is a skateboard, and any individual who can rip it any which way, is welcomed into the ranks.
Maryhill is indeed a wonderfully unique experience. It strips away an individual of all their earthly tethers. Out there on those seemingly endless lefts and rights, it’s all about style and grace. No longer are you bound by the methodology and stipulations of the human domain. While on Maryhill, you aren’t a stockbroker or a secretary, you’re not wealthy or poor, ugly or pretty, male or female. On Maryhill, you’re an enlightened soul completely immersed in the present moment. You’re the truest form of you. Maryhill is a test, yes, but nothing so petty and humanistic as what I once thought. Maryhill is a test of character, a test of how truthful you can be to yourself. While on Maryhill you’re not a human, you’re a skateboarder and you’re just simply stoked.
A very special thanks to Deano Ozuna and all the people and sponsors who contributed to making this event a reality.
Be sure to check out the full list of photos here: