As we came back for the second day of the event, we prioritized seeing the Vans pro bowl competition. As we turned into the entrance of the bowl, it was an open seating arrangement of skating’s highest caliber. Glancing around the pool as people were locating seats were every pro skater you could think of; Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Bucky Lasek, Christian Hosoi, just to name a few, all there to support the best female skaters. Lizzie Armanto was warming up alongside Allysha Le, Nicole Hause, and Arianna Carmona amongst other notable competitors. It was an amazing moment to think what my purpose was there. Though I may not be a pro skater, I had a place at the pool. Me and my fellow girls of Late Skate are a part of the new generation of skateboarding, female skateboarding. Writing history by participating, growing, and pushing our limits in the male dominated sport.
We found space to camp out at the side of the bowl right in front of the red line that marked to not get closer as to not interfere with the skaters. I couldn’t help but wonder if the purpose of the red line was also to protect the audience from the front side airs, steep rock to fakies, and the occasional no comply where trucks raced by at speeds that could merit a painful blow to the face. It was honestly terrifying to see the skaters charging towards our direction at full speed in order to fly above the pool. I had never experienced such professional skating at such a close view. There is nothing that can compare to seeing it with your own eyes, not any instagram post, photo, or professional video, there really was energy radiating through the park.
Everyone was working on their signature runs during the practice round, bailing on the tougher stunts. I couldn't help but wonder if my startled reaction from them flying by my face was contributing to their bails. I had to retain composure as to not affect their run, or so it seemed. I was skeptical that they would complete a full run during the competition, seeing as it looked challenging for them; but when the pressure was on, so we're they; the mark of a professional.
During the competition, the women were in their own world. I could tell by their laser locked eyes, intent on focusing on the part of the bowl they were aiming for. Each of their four 40 second runs flew by as they cruised through the runs and had time to freestyle after they landed their planned tricks. My favorite was when Kody Tamanaha landed several slashes, one long crisp board slide, a frontside Smith grind revert out, to a shove onto the coping. This was another moment that expanded my knowledge of what was possible in a bowl.
It’s always an incredible moment to see someone so in the zone, it doesn't matter if you are watching or not. At one point, one if the contenders shot right in front of me to do a hand plant, it was as if everything froze in time only to resume, as I heard her exhale after letting go to drop back into the deep end.