Known as the "Godmother of skating," Ellen O'Neal helped define the sport of skateboarding in the 1970's. Born and raised in Southern California, Ellen had only been skating for a year before she was sponsored by Gordon & Smith, Bennett Trucks, and Vans. Here she is gracefully performing a "hang ten nose manual."
Laura Thornhill started skating in 1974 and it wasn't long before she was thrashing her male counterparts in professional competitions. Parks, freestyle, slalom, full pipes - you name it, she skated it. She was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2013.
Freestyle skating pioneer Ellen Berryman used her gymnastics background to give her a competitive edge. She won the world freestyle championship two years in a row, and later the national championship.
"I'll be damned if we're not out there breakin' our necks just like the guys...we're gettin' burned. How many issues has it been since you've seen a girl's face? About five."””Vicki Vickers, lamenting the poor coverage of female skaters to Skateboarder Magazine.
It's tricks like these that made Vicki a pioneer in women's vert skateboarding. The X-Games no longer feature women's vert skateboarding as an event, citing lack of "a growing participant base." What a shame.
Peggy Oki skated with the Z-Boys in the 1970's and became an original member of the Zephyr Skateboard team, appearing in the Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary (2001), which is currently streaming on Netflix.
"It was so much fun. Those times were more about having fun than making
money. The men made more money than the women. I was very fortunate to
have had some opportunities to travel and skate contests, and also make a
bit of money as well. I have a core group of friends from this time in
my life, whom I reckon will be friends for the rest of my life. I
cherish that so much, as well as the experiences too. I had a blast
skating, just loved it." - Kim Cespedes
Most of the images in this gallery were taken by legendary skateboard and surfing photographer Warren Bolster.