Tina Trefethen

The classic photos of Tina Trefethen performing “freestyle gymnastics” on her skateboard are iconic representations of skateboarding in the 1970s. While Trefethen was graceful (and flexible!), she also loved the adrenaline rush of racing. And, according to her bio for the 1976 NY World Masters program guide she was a champion Hang Glider, winning the 1975 World Hang Gliding Championships in Austria at age 17, who also enjoyed gymnastics, skiing and surfing.

The photos were taken by Jim O’Mahoney for Skateboard* magazine’s handbook called, Freestyle Skateboard Tricks where Tina is shown performing the “women’s maneuvers.” The goal of the book was to showcase tricks that could then be judged in terms of difficulty at a competition. In an article for Juice Magazine, O’Mahoney lamented that by the time the handbook came out many new tricks had been invented, and skateboarding kept progressing at a rapid rate. (*Note: this was a single issue – not Skateboarder).

Trefethen also competed, and in May 1975 at the Huntington Pier City Contest she came 2nd in women’s Slalom behind Denise Shaw, as well as the Freestyle event. Her success resulted in an appearance on the Perry Como show in 1975, the Lake Tahoe Holiday special, along with Desiree Von Essen and Robin Alaway.

The following year, May 1976 she took third in the Magic Mountain Masters Women’s Slalom event. And, in the November 1977 issue of the National Skateboard Review the contest results note that Trefethen placed 2nd and 3rd at a two-part contest in the Banked Slalom event (Women’s 17-22) at the California State Championships in October.

In June 1978 at the age of 21, Tina sadly had a terrible accident at the fourth (and final) Signal Hill Speed Run. She clocked the fastest speed for the women’s division at 57.69 mph in the “skatecar” class but after the finish line she crashed into a pole because of mechanical problems.

Tina suffered serious injury, breakings her wrists and ribs, and had to have a lung removed. In an article for the Signal Tribune (February 1, 2013), she explained how emotional it was watching the race afterwards on the big screen for The Signal Hill Speed Run (2013) documentary. “It’s very amazing I’m alive! I appreciate every day! I wonder, ‘What if that never would have happened to me?’” When the film premiered in January 2013, Tina attended and looked radiant in the photos.

The Skateboarding Hall of Fame acknowledged Tina as a 2021 inductee, in a fantastic tribute by Jim O’Mahoney who described her as a multi-talented world-class athlete. Check out the video montage with more photos of Tina.

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