Girls, skateboards and a whole lot of racing. It all started off in 2011 when Anna O’Neill from Calgary started up an all-girls crew here in our home town. By the second session we had ten girls show up of all different skill levels, ready to skate and eager to learn more. The stoke that these women brought fueled all that was about to come.
Photo by Anna O’Neill
As our weekly sessions grew, and our skill levels improved, our drive and love for the sport began to evolve into something much larger than most of us had first imagined. The more advanced girls developed a craving for bigger, steeper runs. We began to branch out to the different hills around Calgary, taking them on one at a time, until we were comfortable skating top to bottom. When they no longer pushed our skill limits, our competitive drive pushed us on to the next one. In what seemed like no time, the hills around Calgary that at one time may have seemed unskateable, were now well within our abilities.
By the time spring of 2012 rolled around the corner, we were all thirsty for more and extremely keen to yet again take it to another level. Before the independent race season started in North America, we participated in our locally thrown outlaw races. For some of us, these were our first official longboard races, with each one teaching us more about the rules of racing and riding tightly with fellow skaters.
Danger Bay registration day, we eagerly sat at our computers, waiting for the time that would make it official that we would be attending our first sanctioned race.
When the third weekend in May arrived, we packed our bags and crammed five of us girls into Anna’s not so spacious Saturn and headed off for the thirteen hour drive to reach our final destination in Pender Harbor, BC. Anna O’Neill, being the veteran of our group on the race scene, immediately started showing us the ropes of how things ran with the longboard community. Everything from where to pitch our tents, what the inside stories were on many of the racers, to how to survive racing the course. And much more than survive did our Calgary girls do! When Maia Johnson and Anna O’Neill came out of the race with a gold and silver medal respectively, it opened our minds to the possibilities that this sport held for us, and was just the beginning of the podiums that us Calgary girls would be standing on that summer.
Photo by Elena Corrigall
Combining the realization that our small Calgary scene had potential and the unquestioning acceptance that the longboard community provided, the love for the sport that was shared by all had officially hooked us in for the long haul.
Anna O’Neill, Elena Corrigall and Victoria Waddington. Photo by Lee Gilmar
The North American independent race scene then proceeded to be the very essence of our summer. If it was the highly competitive sports backgrounds that we came from or just our unique personalities, an unbelievably strong bond had been formed between three of us members of the initial Calgary Girls Crew. Victoria Waddington, Anna O’Neill and I, joined together as we took on the race season, one by one, as one of the best summers of my life took place. We realized that we had something special, and out of that we formed our group: BGS.
BGS became a large part of our skating. A brand that gave us something to call ourselves as our journey continued. We wanted to “[show] the boys that girls can push the limits too while still having their own unique style,” (Anna O’Neill) and BGS was a perfect fit. When one of us would succeed, the reward was much deeper than that of personal joy; we had gotten to this point together and there is not much of a better feeling in this world then realizing that you are living your dream. “These girls are my stronghold when it comes to skating” says Victoria Waddington. “Without them, my eyes would never have been opened to the insane world of downhill skateboarding.”
Photo by Riley Harris
By the end of the season, at least one BGS girl had been standing on the podium come the end of every race that any of us had attended on the independent race circuit. Although these podium finishes and the feelings that they brought will be engraved in our memories forever, it is the friendships, experiences, and thrills that we have been fortunate enough to be granted from this beautiful sport that trumps all. “More important than anything else, I love these girls” says Anna. “We can get competitive at times, but at the end of the day these ladies are my favorite people to skate with.” What is to come next is still the unknown, however all this love can give thanks to that dream that was formed between three great friends, and blossomed into something bigger than they ever thought Imaginable. BGS for life.