Kristin Ebeling is one of the first names in women’s skating today. And with her focus on Skate Like A Girl, her position as team manager at Krux, and co-creator of Skate Witches, we’d say the title is well deserved. She works hard, sees the payoff, and has apparently developed an allergy to free time. Here are some highlights from the ‘skatriarchy’-crushing interview:
So it’s been a few years now. Do you feel like you belong in skating? Did you ever feel like an outsider?
All the time. Like I said, I started skating with mostly guys, but that got kinda awkward around age 14. I felt like I was one of the dudes and was invited to everything, and we were all friends. But a year or two after that point, those boys wanted nothing to do with me. They were super mean to me and exclusive. I think maybe just because they were going through puberty and seeing women in a totally different light than they ever had. Perhaps they just didn’t know what to do with me, because I didn’t fit into the image of what women did. There was a while of getting messages on Myspace about how I sucked at skating or going to the skatepark and they would call me J-Lo because of my butt. Honestly, it was the older dudes at the park who stood up for me, which was cool. Maybe ‘cause they came from the ‘90s scene and dealt with being an outcast or something. But the boys my age were brutal. So I skated by myself in my garage. In high school, I met a different crew of dudes who skated a different park and that was pretty cool. Well, it was chill until one of them tried to kiss me when he was drunk. That was horrible. I definitely always felt like I didn’t fit in 100 percent in those circles, which is probably a good thing. Because that’s why I have been able to create so much at Skate Like A Girl and other projects. I want other people to not have that experience of Oh, where do I fit in? It’s like, Yo, over here. You’re welcome here.
What is Skate Like a Girl and what do you do with them?
So Skate Like a Girl is a nonprofit, and the whole goal is to make skateboarding more inclusive, which we do in a bunch of different ways. Some of that is giving skateboards to people who can’t afford them or don’t have access. Some of it’s doing skate sessions for queer, women and/or trans skaters. So the whole idea is just creating an easy way for people to get into skating. We’ve been around for about 20 years and primarily work in Seattle, Portland and the SF Bay area. Those are the three main areas, but we also do stuff online and put on the Wheels of Fortune event. That’s a contest and gathering for women and/or trans skaters.
It seems like Wheels of Fortune has brought a huge community of people together. Was the purpose just to make something that brought everyone together or were you trying to make a contest?
I think it had a lot to do with my own personal desire to feel like I’m welcomed and included and just knowing that I’m most likely not the only person who feels like they don’t belong. So I just wanted to create a weekend that feels like a dream for skaters who maybe haven’t had events where they felt that. I want people to feel how I felt when I first found Skate Like a Girl. I just remember walking up to the Skate Like a Girl event when I was a teenager and all these women were just ripping, and little kids too; a girl ollied the eight stair, a girl was doing nollie flips and some were ripping in the bowl, all with a girl on the microphone. I was like, Where has this been?! So when I created Wheels of Fortune I just wanted it to have that feeling—for people to walk in and be in a dream. It’s like, you walk in and there’s a pro skater over there, or some cool-looking people over there and then something fun to do somewhere else. I just wanted it to feel like an experience you don’t normally get in skating. Because most of the time you go to the skatepark and it can feel really hostile or scary if you’re a beginner or you don’t look like the other people who are there. And maybe people will be inspired to go back to where they’re from and start their own thing.