WSA’s Mimi Knoop Discusses Women’s Contest Debut In SLS

SLS, SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship
Women’s podium at the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship

SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship Women’s Contest Airs on FS1 and FOX Sports GO October 18th at 4 p.m. ET

Founded in 2010, Street League Skateboarding (SLS) has become a well-recognized platform for growing street skateboarding worldwide. It wasn’t until this year, however, that the skate competition included a women’s division. Eight of the best female skaters in the world joined at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago to debut women’s skateboarding at the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship. The women put on a show and in traditional SLS contest fashion, it came down to the last trick with Leticia Bufoni just edging out Vanessa Torres to secure a history making victory with a 360 flip over the wedge gap.

TransWorld Business sat down with Mimi Knoop, President of The Women’s Skateboarding Alliance (WSA) to discuss the organization’s work with Street League. Founded in early 2015 in conjunction with the Alliance, WSA educates, improves, and delivers the most current trends and information for women’s skateboarding worldwide, and serves as the premiere female skateboarding sport organizer in the world. WSA and the Alliance have worked with X Games, SLS, and other major contest organizers and event properties to represent women’s skateboarding fairly and legitimately.

When did the idea to include women’s skateboarding in Street League begin?

Well, we had already been working with ESPN and X Games since 2006 through the Alliance. Lisa Whitaker and I were always brainstorming on how we could create more opportunities for female skaters. A few years back, we began talking more with Kim Woozy of MAHFIA tv on concept building, too. Kim introduced us to YuLin Olliver who came from Street League at the time. The four of us brought different strengths to the table; so it made sense for us to work together. We officially founded WSA earlier this year.

So back in 2013, the four of us met with SLS and pitched a couple of ideas to them on how to integrate women into their program. But it wasn’t the right time for them to run with any of those concepts then. Fast forward to this past fall; Brian Atlas of SLS emailed me and asked me to come into the office. We revisited the possibility of adding women into SLS program, and decided to officially partner on turning it into a reality. Through our collaboration with SLS, we worked all year on bringing together the first ever Women’s Division at SLS.

womens skate, Street League, SLS, Mimi Knoop
Pictured (L to R): Kim Woozy, Mimi Knoop, YuLin Olliver

When did you receive the news that a women’s division would be added to the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship?

We received the news late last Fall, but had to keep it hush hush until a few weeks ago when SLS made the big  public announcement.

How did WSA select the eight female skaters to compete at Street League?

Since women skateboarders don’t have a deep contest circuit to work from directly, our international Alliance selection committee carefully reviews skaters worldwide and selections are made based on skaters’ ability to skate all sections of an SLS style and size course, media presence, regional and worldwide contest results, and social following. We do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of the underground skate scene, and try to find and recognize new talent as often as possible. Our goal through working together in this way is to keep women’s skateboarding legitimate and fair to the skaters involved.

Can you describe the feeling of arriving at the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship and seeing this dream become a reality ?

Standing in the arena in Chicago and witnessing the SLS Women’s Division come to fruition was both a proud and surreal experience. It is safe to say that all of us—WSA and female skaters—shared a sense of accomplishment. By the time the contest ended, however, my thoughts were already focused on the future and how we can ensure further progress through the SLS platform.

I think SLS adding women into their program is one more brick in the wall of building a future for women’s professional skateboarding. It will help add legitimacy and value to the existing female pros, and help usher in a new generation of girl skaters we have yet to meet. Responsibility still lies in us individually though. It is up to us to keep the needle moving in our own grassroots initiatives, as well.

What does this accomplishment mean for women’s skateboarding?

I think SLS adding women into their program is one more brick in the wall of building a future for women’s professional skateboarding. It will help add legitimacy and value to the existing female pros, and help usher in a new generation of girl skaters we have yet to meet. Responsibility still lies in us individually though. It is up to us to keep the needle moving in our own grassroots initiatives, as well.

What is next?

Our hope and intent is to continue this amazing relationship with Street League into 2016 & beyond. ESPN is adding a Women’s Street competition in X Games Oslo next February so we will be helping produce that contest as well as X Games Austin in June. We will continue working on our grassroots initiatives as well.

Skateboarding in the Olympics. Thoughts and/or concerns?

Everyone in skateboarding seems to be emotional about this topic and have their own opinion. I am just sitting back and waiting to see what happens. I will always have my own love for skateboarding whether it’s in the Olympics or not. And I think if you have that, no one can take it away from you.

Don’t miss the most elite female pros compete for the inaugural women’s title of the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Champion in a dedicated one-hour special on FS1 and FOX Sports GO this Sunday, October 18th at 4pm ET.

Find your FS1 channel

The Women’s SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship will air on Fox Sports 1 October 18th at 4 p.m. ET. Check out www.streetleague.com for more info.

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