Gabby Olsen slides her kitten-emblazoned skateboard along the edge of a steel pipe before dropping into the curved cement bowl.
The 10-year-old Edmonton girl will be skating at FISE Edmonton competition in Hawrelak Park this weekend — kickflipping and boardsliding alongside some of the world’s best extreme athletes.
She’ll be joined by her two friends, Ava Cook, also 10, and 12-year-old Presley Wellard, together the only girls to skate in their division last year.
Olsen wants girls to know that skateboarding isn’t just for the boys.
“I just think that girls can do anything that boys can do,” Olsen said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.
“The end of last year I really started to encourage myself to skateboard. I was just like, I want to try that.”
FISE, Festival International des Sports Extremes, brings together athletes in BMX, skateboard and mountain biking from around the world.
While the competition draws some of the world’s finest professional athletes, amateurs also have a chance to test their mettle and showcase their skills for the crowds.
The three girls met a few years ago when they joined a local snowboarding club, but only recently decided to take up skateboarding together.
They wanted a way to stay on the board in the summer.
After a shaky start, Olsen has quickly picked up the sport, and is working on new tricks all the time.
“We have this back path at our house and I just ride around back there and that’s where I mostly started. And when I started I had like no clue what to do,” Olsen said.
“I just practise on going faster and ollieing, and dropping down … When it looks hard, it really isn’t that hard.”
The three girls will be at FISE World Edmonton at Hawrelak Park, from Friday to Sunday. Admission is free.
They trio are looking forward to another season of stiff competition.
“It’s going to be super cool,” said Wellard, who had some advice for other young skateboarders hoping to compete.
“It’s really hard but you’ve just got to keep it up. It’s hard, but it’s really fun.
“And once you start being able to do all kind of tricks and stuff it’s really fun so don’t give up on it.”