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Friday, August 5, 2005
Updated: May 14, 1:19 PM ET
W Skate Street: Elissa Steam-rolls

By Mary Fenton
EXPN.com

The girls are growing up—sort of—looking lovely, or as lovely as petite bodies flailing down eight sets can look. The X Games Women's Skateboard Street contest is no longer for the girls. These competitors are becoming serious contenders and veteran skateboarders. The Street contest went down flawlessly at the STAPLES Center on this beautiful Friday afternoon in Los Angeles.

The contest roster of eight skaters included all the top names: Amy Caron and Vanessa Torres, almost as famous for their wild antics as for their skating; Elissa Steamer, who's shredded since those two were in diapers; and Lauren Perkins and Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins, who have been competing since women's pro skating meant anything—and are still only 15.

Elissa Steamer, the 29-year-old elder of the group, won the gold. She's been skating since her early teens, and her experience showed. She was the most consistent skater and one of the few who landed nearly all her tricks. "I'm kind of surprised that I won," said Steamer. "These girls are awesome. I'm happy that I did as well as I did." Steamer may have been on the top tier, but a couple vixens half her age nipped at her heels throughout the event.
Blasting ollies is one of Elissa Steamer's specialties, kind of like taking gold.

Belgium native Evelien Bouilliart, 15, who has been competing for only a year, finished second. Her feeble grinds were dialed on the flatbar and down the rail on the 8 set, along with her 50-50 grinds (both frontside and back), frontside 5-0's, and Smith grinds. What does stepping it up mean to Evelin? "Maybe I get paid now. Woohoo!"

Bronze medalist Marissa Del Santo was the other 15-year-old newcomer who made jaws drop, notably with a backside lipslide down the 8-set rail. She also did them frontside just for grins, and she kickflipped the eight set during practice.
Marissa Del Santo. Backside Lipslide. Are you kidding? Say it is so.

Fourth-place finisher Lauren Perkins, 16, says the difference in skill levels is like night and day from when she started competing three years ago. "Before, it was like, 'Oh, a girl's contest, nothing to see here.' Now, it's amazing to watch. The prize money is coming up, too."

The old-schoolers were impressed with the ladies, as well. Vert skater Cara Beth Burnside handed out medals and said, "I love seeing this. The girls have totally stepped it up, and that's what we need to get more girls skating."

Though the event was more subdued than the Men's event, the girls had a blast doing what they do best, they laughed, and gave each other props throughout the event. The ladies ripped X 11.
Do they do smtih grinds in Belgium or just eat waffles? Evelien Bouilliart does both.

Notes:

  • Lyn-Z Adams skated with a broken arm. Patiane Frietas rolled with a braced-up knee. Vanessa Torres smashed her head trying a board slide, but she still came back for the hedge huck sesh.

  • Vanessa Torres is not only a skateboarder, but a breakdancer and a gymnast, too. On a number of bails, she pulled off a cartwheel or a near-headspin.

  • Skateboarder Felix Arguelles, fresh off the latest Tommy Hilfiger reality show quest, did commentary en espanol for ESPN's Deportes Day. Arriba.

  • Amy Caron and Vanessa Torres played a game of catch over the bleachers, not with a ball, but with a balled-up slice of pizza.

  • Rumor central: Saturday's women's Vert contest will be canceled because of a boycott by the skaters. Overhead on deck: "They think the prize money and event coverage is lame compared to the guys."