Alexis Sablone

Alexis Sablone first exploded into the conscience of skateboarding at age 15 with her part for the Coliseum skateshop video “P.J. Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life” (2002) based out of Boston. The video was creative, ground-breaking, and hugely popular (it literally sold a million copies), and Sablone’s one-minute-long part was an absolute gamechanger for women in skateboarding.

Alexis, filmed by Dave Korden, was seen flipping massive gaps, board-sliding steep ledges, and bailing hard, triggering both awe and confusion among many a young delusional male skater. Alexis was simply part of the team and her footage deserved to be there. Along with Coliseum, Alexis skated for Organika, The Firm, Element, and éS shoes during her early career.

Alexis remembers seeing a boy skateboarding in a pizza restaurant parking-lot at age nine or ten and receiving her first skateboard not long after. She would practise alone in her garage and progressed by watching VHS tapes and trying to replicate what she saw.

Once she changed schools, Alexis made connections with like-minded skateboarding friends in Madison, Connecticut. In a 2015 interview for Jenkem, Alexis shared that, “I grew up skating by myself or skating with a bunch of guys. I mean, I was skateboarding in the mid 90’s in Connecticut; there was no group of girls. I had never even seen another girl skater until I went to my first contest.”

There was a skatepark in Guilford, forty minutes away from her parents’ home, which was her weekend destination, but by high school she was regularly going to Boston to skate the windowsills and aquarium. “I skated with PJ all the time. And I knew Jereme (Rogers) when we were like 12 and went to Woodward together. He introduced me to the Coliseum guys, and then PJ and I became super close. Then we started filming for the video” (Musick).

Sablone’s part in the Coliseum video was an unexpected cameo, stunning skaters around the world who assumed that Elissa Steamer was the lone female street skater of any serious reputation. It seemed as though Alexis had appeared out of nowhere, and yet Jen O’Brien for SLAP magazine had the foresight to acknowledge her at age 12 in the January 1999 issue in a “Skateboard Check Out” article (#73, p. 46). O’Briend noticed Alexis at Woodward camp when she took first place in intermediate street at their in-house competition.

Alexis followed up this feature by placing second in pro street at the All Girl Skate Jam in Rhode Island at the age of twelve in 1999, just behind Elissa Steamer resulting in sponsorship. A year later, Alexis won her next All Girl Skate Jam pro street contest held at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, New Jersey, although she did note that Elissa wasn’t part of the mix. Curiously enough, it was Steamer who interviewed Sablone twenty years later in the July 2019 issue of Thrasher.

The growing community of women skaters was absolutely stoked to see Alexis stomp a four-stair switch kickflip sequence in the November 2002 issue of Thrasher (#262) for their “Heads” article (p. 45-49). Alexis was then given the cover of the Winter 2002/2003 issue of Check it Out: skateboarding 4 girls magazine (#14) launching a nollie heelflip, as photographed by Michael Burnett. Burnett said the trick took three tries, and “was a drop in the pond as far as what Ms. Sablone’s got in store for the skate world.” His first impression of her was as a no-nonsense, take-charge skater who would “rather skate than sit around blabbing with the photographer.”

After making a connection with Kris Markovich at a skatepark, Alexis started receiving boards from Element. They even flew her out to California for a contest at Huntington Beach, which would turn out to be a pivotal moment for her decision to return to school. Alexis was so “excited, so nervous, everything. And then I rolled my ankle really badly on the first trick of my run. I couldn’t skate anymore. I was completely devastated. I was so disappointed that I just decided right then that I would never do contests again” (Buckheit).

Alexis, during her attempt to find an agent had been told that there was no market for women in skateboarding. And yet, she still joined her sponsor éS in 2003 for the King of the Road (KOTR) contest, which is showcased in the January 2004 issue of Thrasher (#276) and on film. In the bonus footage of KOTR, there’s also a fun clip of Alexis stomping a blind-folded nollie heelflip.

That same year her sponsor, The Firm included Alexis in their video “Can’t Stop” (2003), which was critical in that it showed her adding flip tricks in and out of her grinds and boardslides, which she would eventually perform in contests. The problem was that in 2004 the men were winning $50,000 for first place at the X Games, while the women received a mere $2000.

At the time, Alexis decided to focus on her studies attending Barnard College and obtaining a degree in architecture from Columbia University in 2008. Even with the intensity of her studies and limited sleep, Alexis “remained immersed in the vibrant New York skate scene” (Buckheit). She did have to explain to her sponsor éS both her aversion to contests and her work load. “I told them I didn’t want them to have expectations of me that I wasn’t in a place to fulfill. I just wanted to go to school and skate for fun and not feel like I was pissing anyone off at the skate companies in the meantime.”

Upon graduation, with limited funds, Alexis reconsidered her previous response to competitions. The timing was right, a kitchen fire at the restaurant she was working at meant financial instability, and the skateboard contest scene was finally offering big prize money for women. Alexis was encouraged to enter the Maloof Money Cup, and she spontaneously entered arriving as an alternate and came sixth even with her wheel falling off and heavy bails.

Sablone then returned to contest skating with determination taking silver at the 2009 X-Games, even with broken ribs from early in the competition. She followed it up with Gold in 2010, Silver in 2011, Gold in 2012. While the pressure of competitions and expectations were still very present, Alexis managed to create balance and have fun skating, as seen in this 2010 footage at a San Diego trade show:

In 2011, Alexis reappears in Thrasher, also for KOTR as part of the Circa team but the lure of academia is still strong. Alexis would return to her studies in 2012, attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and coming out with a master’s degree in Architecture four years later. She acknowledged that it was her prize winnings from skateboarding that put her through grad school, contests that included the Dew Tour, Street League, Mystic Skate Cup, Kimberley Diamond Cup, NASS Rubicon Girlzilla, G-Shock World Cup, SuperGirl Jam, etc.

Her passion for art and design as a skateboarder has given Alexis a unique outlook on how to “misuse spaces” in her work, resulting in some unique public sculpture like a skateable installation in Malmö, Sweden (2018). Her sculpture, “Lady in the Square” was described as “an oversized Picasso-like interpretation of a female face (think a severely triangular nose and puffy, cloud-like lips) and is yet another way Sablone has helped ensure there will always be space for women at the skatepark” (Marsh). A portfolio of her work can be found here.

Following her graduation in 2016, Alexis’ skateboarding career skyrocketed starting with a feature in the November 2016 issue of Transworld, with photos by Richard Hart:

  • In 2017, Alexis was offered a pro model for WKND Skateboards and was their first female member of the team, which was long overdue.
  • Her exhibit at Extension Gallery (located above Orchard Skateshop, her long-time sponsor) in Boston showcases her animations, illustrations, and board designs.
  • In 2018, Dial Tone released her “Chasing Tail” wheel design.
  • In 2019, Converse offered her a One Star Pro model shoe.
  • Alexis is welcomed to the US National Team, in anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics.
  • After ten years straight of X-Games, Alexis accumulated 3 gold, 2 silver, and one bronze.
  • In 2020, Thunder trucks released her pro line trucks.
  • November 2020 Alexis transitioned to Alltimers and announced her pro board.
  • June 2021, Converse collaborated with Alexis on her “Pride shoe” with a rainbow tab, acknowledging her queer identity.
  • July 2021, Alexis placed 4th in Tokyo, Japan at the Olympics for women’s street in a field dominated by teenagers.
  • February 2022 Alexis acquired the position as the new women’s head coach for the 2024 U.S. Olympic skateboard team.

For Rolling Stone, Alexis noted that the Olympics “feels like a huge honour and it feels really exciting that I could make it and do that,” something she would never would have imagined possible as a young skateboarder. She also acknowledged that the Olympics would be giving women skaters a spotlight, making a difference for her financially as well. For Vice, she said, “I’m definitely not the youngest person out there, I’m probably the oldest person out there—I am! – so the fact that I’m still doing this after all these years and I’m still valid and a part of this, it does feel really rewarding.”

Even though contests have impacted Sablone, she will always be renowned for her street skating. Lisa Whitaker from the Girls Skate Network explained it well in October 2021. “She is a legend of street skateboarding that commands the respect from the core group of the anti-contest skaters, while still being able to have that same audience cheer her on while she competes in the recent Tokyo Olympics. That’s the range all skaters want.” For a thorough history of Alexis Sablone’s progression, head to the Girls Skate Network archive.


And, to binge watch more Alexis see below… enjoy!

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Welcome to WKND part (2017)

Jenkem video interview (August 2017)

Converse CONS One Star Pro video in NYC (May 2019)

The Berrics Round 1 battle with Nika Washington (Oct. 2019)

The Berrics Round 2 battle with Candy Jacobs (Nov. 2019)

The Berrics Finals with Monica Torres (Dec. 2019)

Converse Cons, “Seize the Seconds.” Thrasher clip (2020)

Alltimers (December 2020)

Red Bull SŌLUS (Oct 2021)

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