Robin Alaway was a skateboarder in the mid-1970s who became sponsored by R.A.C.O., a Los Angeles skateboard company, providing demonstrations for them at hardware stores from Texas to New Mexico, before moving on to the Logan Earth Ski team. While her style channeled her background as a dancer, she eventually transitioned towards pool and bowl, and was vocal in her support of female skateboarders.
1975 was Robin’s big year, as she placed 2nd in Freestyle behind her friend Desiree Von Essen in July at the Long Beach Arena City Championships, and then they swapped things around a few months later. At the Hang Ten World Pro-Am Skateboard Championship at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, September 20-21, 1975, Robin won the Pro Women’s Freestyle and was 3rd in the Pro Women’s Cross-Country when she was 17 years-old.
Robin’s success also resulted in an appearance on the Perry Como show in 1975, the Lake Tahoe Holiday special, along with Desiree Von Essen and Tina Trefethen, filmed in the fall of 1975.
The first photo below of Robin skating in desert boots at the Orange County Fairgrounds in 1975 by Hugh Holland was included in his coffee table book, Silver. Skate. Seventies: California Skateboarding 1975-1978 (2019).
In Cindy Berryman’s August 1976 Skateboarder article, “Let’s Hear it For the Ladies” there is significant discussion about prize money. “Some of the women are trying to do something about it. Robin Alaway (whose total Hang Ten winnings were $775 less than what they would have been had she been a male) writes that, ‘Maybe the day will arrive when all we skate ladies will see the light and organize ourselves to form a stronger union. But remember, there is strength in numbers, so come on, ladies, and get involved.”
In the same issue (August 1976) as Berryman’s article, Robin is featured in a “Who’s Hot” article by Brian Gillogly, at at age 19. The article explained that her skateboarding style, which capitalized on her talent as a modern dance teacher, was “respected, often copied, and frequently scored high,” but that she actually preferred “doing sliders, switching stance and going fast on banks and in bowls.” Robin recognized that audiences liked to see women perform choreographed “girls’ stuff,” but in reality she would rather be challenged and try new tricks. It was also annoying that when on tour outside of California, the audience members “have a tendency not to look at girls. They look – but not at what you’re doing.”
Robin openly admitted in her interview that she was competitive, even with her good friend (and R.A.C.O. teammate) Desiree Von Essen, but “If I’m going to be beaten, better Desiree than someone else.” Overall, the pro skater life was treating Robin well, especially when she could get to a remote bowl or an empty pool.
Robin scored a part in the 1976 movie, Freewheelin’ (Dir. Scott Dittrich) along with Dodie Hackemack. And, in 1977, CBS was hosting a TV special called “Challenge of the Sexes,” and pitted Robin against pro skateboarder Chris Chaput—I would love to see that footage!
Laura Thornhill shared in her interview that one of her favourite skateboarders was Robin Alaway because “she’s really funny, and she’s hot, she’ll go for things; she’ll get crazy sometimes.”
Robin competed in skateboarding into the late 1970s and photos of her appeared in an East Coast magazine called Skate Rider out of Florida in the Fall 1977 issue by Chuy. There’s not much detail about the contest, but it looks like she is ripping! She was also part of a Skateboard Expo in 1977 with Robin Logan, Ellen Berryman and a crew of guys, touring cross-country, performing demos.
Photos: Dan Gross, Hugh Holland, Jeff Ruiz, Jim O’Mahoney, Warren Bolster, Chuy
- 2nd Place Women’s Freestyle, July 1975 at the Long Beach Arena City Championship
- 1st Place Women’s Freestyle, 3rd Place Pro Women’s Cross-Country, September 1975 at the LA Sports Arena
- 5th Place Junior Women’s Slalom (15-17), February 1976 at the 2nd Annual Ventura Skateboard Championships
- 2nd Place Women’s Freestyle, June 1976 in the YMCA La Costa Summer Contest.
- 3rd Place (tie) in Women’s Bowl Freestyle, 6th in Slalom, 6th in Flatland Freestyle place in Women’s Slalom, September 1976 at the 2nd Annual Hang-Ten contest at the Carlsbad Skatepark.
- 6th Place Women’s Slalom, 7th Place Women’s Freestyle, September 1976 at the Pacific Skateboard Association’s Long Beach Arena contest.
- 5th Place Women’s Freestyle, September 1977 in the California Free Former World Pro Championships, Long Beach Arena.
- Berryman, Cindy. “Let’s hear it for the ladies.” Skateboarder Magazine, Vol. 2, no. 6 (Aug. 1976): 58-63.
- Bolster, Warren. “Laura Thornhill: The Lady is a Champ.” Skateboarder Magazine, Vol. 3, no. 5. (June 1977): 50-57.
- Gillogly, Brian. “Who’s Hot. Robin Alaway.” Skateboarder Magazine, Vol. 2, no. 6 (Aug. 1976): 84-85.