The youngest member of Canada’s national skateboarding team is inspiring young women across the country to hit the rails.
“I think it is awesome because there are not many girls,” said 11-year-old Fay Ebert of Toronto.
Being nearly half the age of her national teammates, Ebert is encouraging young women across the country to take up the daredevil sport.
“Everybody is nervous at first … don’t worry what other people think of you because you are going to be silly at first but then if you keep working you are going to get better at it,” she said.
Canada Skateboard representative Adam Higgins said women have been skating for years, but young girls see it as more of a “possibility” now.
“A lot of organizations and skaters are really working to make it a little bit more of a welcoming place for everybody,” he said.
He said Canada Skateboard has launched a women and girls initiative called SheCANSk8, to encourage more females to give the sport a try.
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With many team sports cancelled for the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a skate park in Riverview, N.B., managed by Ross Smith of Surface Skateshop has experienced a big uptake in membership, particularly among girls.
“There are a few global faces that are really popular right now and I think that encourages younger generations of female skateboarders to get out there,” Smith said.
Smith noted that first-time female riders outnumber the boys three to one at their facility.
Longtime skateboarder Jess Spencer of Riverview has launched an Instagram account called skxrtboarders. She said she hopes it will encourage people of all identities to try out the sport.
“We just wanted to create a safe place for female skaters to come out — anybody who was maybe nervous about trying it out,” said Spencer.
Twelve-year-old Annika Welling of Riverview is fairly new to the sport and said when she first started to skate two years ago there were not as many girls gathering at the skate park.
“I am seeing quite a big increase and I have actually made quite a few friends now that are girls,” she said.
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Skateboarding has been added to the roster for the summer Olympics for the first time, and Welling said that she looks up to other professional female riders across the globe.
“I am excited and hope that I can get good enough to go there sometime,” said Welling.
With many qualifying rounds cancelled due to COVID-19, Higgins said that Ebert may not have enough opportunity to make it to the Olympics this year.
“She needs a few more events to qualify,” he said, adding that she has a bright future in the sport and is setting the pace for more young girls to follow in her path.
“I would love to be in the Olympics,” said Ebert.