In the annals of skateboarding history, there is no woman that has dominated skateboarding in the way that Lynn Kramer has struck “The Fear Of God” into the world of slalom skateboarding. Ever.
This is a bold statement that, I’m quite sure, will ignite it’s fair share of debate and controversy. Many skate-historians will surely point to such luminaries as Laura Thornhill (in freestyle), Carabeth Burnside (in vert), Elissa Steamer (in street), or even Brianne Davies (in downhill), and state that these women broke down many barriers in their respective heydays, and paved the way for other women to follow. And I’m not gonna argue with that one bit. These women truly did make vast and important strides toward making skateboarding a much more gender-neutral pastime, and shattered many a glass ceiling along the way.
However, note that I carefully chose to use the word “dominated” in my introductory paragraph. Which implies not only respect among men… but also, fear. Fear that “the boyz” might just get their puny little asses thoroughly mauled by the female contingent. Laura Thornhill, Carabeth Burnside, Elissa Steamer, and Brianne Davies… these women were, and still are, respected. Respected for the ground they broke, and the hurdles they had to overcome to pave the way for future generations.
But, “feared”…? That, my friends, is something altogether different. Most guys that I know, probably wouldn’t be too petrified of having to go head-to-head with a Carabeth Burnside, or an Elissa Steamer… or even, a Brianne Davies… in a competitive setting. If for no other reason, than out of either ego, or out of arrogant ignorance. Because for all the ground that they broke, the final lesson has always been that although they can run with “the guys”… it’s still pretty difficult to imagine actually getting beaten up by one of these women. If not, impossible.
“If you’ve been to any major race in the past few years, you’ve certainly run into Lynn. And, you’ve probably been beaten soundly by her. She’s “The Queen”, no doubt about it…!”
But a few years back, I was hanging out at one of Kenny Mollica’s “Buckeye” races, quietly lurking in the timing tent (which is truly the place to be, at the climax of any slalom event- take my word for it, kids), and watching the brackets fall when, all of a sudden, some dude looked over my shoulder… noticed that his next challenger was Mrs. Kramer… and forlornly sighed something to the effect of, “Oh, my gawd! I have to go up against Lynn…?! Shit! That’s it. My life is now officially over.” And, I just kicked back and laughed my ass off as I realized, for the first time ever, just how scared the “average guy” is of having to meet Lynn Kramer… and, go head-to-head against her… on a race course. I laughed, because I suddenly realized that there’s a whole contingent of fully-hardened slalom racers that apparently feel the same way. And I laughed because I was so, so glad that it wasn’t me that was about to get my ass kicked.
Simply put: Racing Lynn Kramer is a proposition where somebody loses- regardless of their gender- and Lynn wins, almost every time. That’s probably why she’s a nine-time World Champion, and still harder to beat than ever.
When future generations of skate historians finally get their act together, and write the complete and comprehensive history of skateboarding… I think they’ll end up agreeing with me on this one. No woman, anywhere, has dominated any field of skateboarding, more than Lynn Kramer has dominated the world of slalom.
Our slalom editor, Fatboy, recently turned in this crafty interview that illustrates the “lighter side” of Lynn Kramer. That is, the side that we only get to see when she’s not busy chewing up dudes on the hill:
Our gal…! Photo by Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings.
Why skateboard racing? Why not bullfighting? Or, ice fishing? Or, something else?
I already tried those, but failed miserably.
Are you real gear conscious, or like me: “F@%K it! I’ll just run what I have bolted up”?
In my head, I am overly gear conscious. But in reality, my husband is the one who makes sure I have extra axle nuts, and I’ll ride any wheels the Brown Bomber throws at me.
Tell me one weird fact about you that folks might not know?
If I told you, then they would know.
Why won’t any of you race in a skirt, like me?
We only need one skirt in slalom.
Note just how far back “the competition” is in this photo. WCS 2011. Photo by Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings.
Are people generally surprised when you tell them you race skateboards?
My customers love it! I used to be afraid if they knew I was taking time off their project to go skateboard, they wouldn’t take me seriously. But when I play up the whole World Champion thing, they love it.
Pie or doughnuts? And, what flavor?
Maple Bacon doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon.
What was your first car?
What was the approximate date that CMC first hit on you?
A picture of speed. Morro Nationals, 2008. Photo by Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings.
Which discipline do you prefer: TS, GS, Hybrid?
What’s your most memorable skate moment?
Beating Judi [Oyama] by .007 seconds combined in the Tight Slalom at the 2003 Worlds in Morro Bay.
Do you also skate:
Yes, but only if I have to.
Not so much…
Are you stoked that more girls are racing these days?
I would be stoked if more girls were racing these days…
Same ‘ol story: Lynn skates, and the guys watch. 2010 Nats. Photo by Maria Carassco/Sk8Kings.
Regular, or goofy? Normal push, or Mongo?
Goofy all the way.
Favorite pizza topping?
Favorite race to attend?
There was one Sizzler that held top honors for a long time, until I went to my first Farm.
Ever think about doin’ roller derby?
Being a world-class, world-champion skater means lots of camera-time, and fat guys from Jersey chasing you down to do interviews. WCS 2011. Photo by Maria Carassco/Sk8Kings.
Is David Beckham really that dreamy? Posh was really cute in the day, but now she looks kinda fake and plastic. Ginger was always my favorite!
Favorite skater to watch?
To race against?
Jonny Miller (no relation).
Favorite cartoon character?
Emily, Stewy, and Wile E Coyote because he always gets smashed, burned, or otherwise mutilated, but never dies.
Do you watch the X-games, or who gives a shit anymore?
If they’re on.
Do you snowboard?
Any other sports?
Do blondes really have more fun?
I had fun being blonde.
Dumbest thing you remember doing back in school?
Pouring beer into an empty coke can, and taping over the top. I never even made it to school before my parents smelled it.
Does your Mom still give you shit about skating/racing, like mine does?
I was never allowed to skateboard growing up because my dad was an orthopedist. He thought it was just a way to pay the bills until they came to see the 2004 La Costa Open. Then he told me “Wow, that’s really a sport. And wow, you’re actually good at it.” Now, my mom likes going to races.
Furthest you’ve traveled for a race?
Czech Republic. Twice.
Would you prefer male racers to treat you as an equal, or as a lady?
Equal what?! I kick most of their asses. Then after the race, they may open the door for me.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a Mechanical Engineer. I try to convince people (such as yourself) that they can make more skateboards for less money, if they have a CNC router to help them. Then after they buy the router from me, we help keep them running.
Make it “World Champion of Slalom Skateboarding”, and you’ll have it right. Sure, she might smile a lot off the course…
…but on the course, she’s all business. Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings photos.
Ever ridden in an ambulance?
Ever wear KISS makeup?
Would you ever wear shoes that hurt your feet because they looked cool?
Not on purpose.
Is anything (car, laptop, refrigerator, etc.) in your home covered in skate stickers?
Do you look at things (curbs, ditches, hills) differently than others because you skate?
Favorite skate t-shirt?
All my shirts that Chicken made.
Skate companies that have been cool to you?
Sk8kings, Khiro, Timeship Racing, Nitro, Pocket Pistols, Abec 11, Fibreflex, Turner, 3dm/Seismic, Dregs, Sector 9, Radikal, Pleasure Tools, G&S, Powell-Peralta, Oust, Airflow, Skaterbuilt, Asphalt Playground, and Indiana.
Racers/Skaters that have been cool to you?
All slalom skaters are cool.
Fatboy (the writer) is a great chap that also owns a small company called “Longboards By Fatboy”, which can be found at http://www.longboardsbyfatboy.com/.
Maria Carrasco (the photographer) is a lovely lady that also runs the day-to-day at Sk8Kings, which can be found at http://www.sk8kings.com/.
Lynn Kramer is a kick-ass slalom racer. But you knew that already, ‘cuz you just read the interview.
And Bud Stratford… the guy that art-directed the piece, and wrote the intro… is still an asshat.