ESPN announced Tuesday, May 31, that it has eliminated the women’s vert skateboarding from X Games, scheduled to begin July 28 in Los Angeles. The news also comes on the heels of Dew Tour’s cancellation of its women’s street event. Women’s skate vert has been in place since 2003, and sustained a popular tour following for several years, before slowly dwindling and leaving ESPN X Games as the only leg of the contest series, according to a recent article posted on its website:
“We look for sports that have a solid year-round infrastructure, a growing participant base, an established annual competition schedule, rising youth talent pools, ample access to courses, low barriers of entry into the sport and myriad other factors,” a statement from ESPN X Games read. “After thoughtful discussions and evaluation of many of those factors, we have decided to discontinue the women’s skateboard vert competition from X Games 17.”
In 2006 women’s skateboarders were the lone female athletes competing at the summer X Games. Still, they led negotiations with ESPN executives to secure higher prize purses for women athletes across all sports at both the Winter and summer Games. Women and men now receive equal prize money at X events.
The movement for equality was led by the Action Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in 2005 to create equal opportunities for women’s skaters. The Alliance was co-founded by Cara-Beth Burnside, the matriarch of women’s skateboarding who went on to win three X Games gold medals in vert.
But as Burnside grew older, few female skaters emerged to fill the vert ranks. Now 42, Burnside lost her major sponsor, Vans Shoes, earlier this year in another sign of the discipline’s decline.
Meanwhile, women’s street skating, which remains part of the X Games program, has surged with up-and-coming talent.
“I think it’s a shame, especially with the amount of interest in women’s skating and new talent lately,” vert skateboarding icon Tony Hawk texted about the decision to drop women’s vert skating.