Lynn Kramer

Lynn Kramer has currently won the World Slalom Champion title sixteen times, received the first-ever women’s pro slalom board through Sk8Kings, and continues her relentless dominance in that field with a solid list of sponsors. Her skateboarding story was launched in the 1980s, and the role she played taking on the Women’s Skateboarding Network (originally called the Women’s Skateboard Club) and publishing the quarterly Equal Time ‘zine in 1988/1989, was absolutely critical for cultivating community and motivation for women to keep skating!

As a kid, Lynn was a self-professed tomboy from day one, playing football, tennis, BMX riding, but with a focus on Little League Baseball. Lynn’s parents were likely wary of skateboarding after she cracked her tooth at age 7 while knee-boarding on her friend’s board. On the Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama Facebook page it’s mentioned that she did eventually receive a set-up at age 12 (a Z-Pig with Tracker Trucks and Sims Juice wheels) but it wasn’t until after high school in 1985 that her interest in skateboarding was launched, and then in University things really started to take-off.

Lynn was never one to sit on the sidelines and even brought Co-ed Physical Education to her Junior High School. “It wasn’t that hard, really. All I had to do was ask. I walked right up to the PE teacher, who happened to have a daughter in my grade, and asked to play in the boys’ softball game. He asked why I would want to do that. I told him I had played four years of Little League.” From there things snowballed with more girls participating each game, and Lynn landed a spot on the Varsity softball team at her high school first year.

In September 1985, Lynn arrived at University of California San Diego (UCSD) as an engineering student and skateboarding soon became all-consuming. “When I got to UCSD, the first thing I saw were skateboards. Skateboards everywhere. It was 1985 and skateboarding was at a high. My apartment was on a major walkway and I would sit outside waiting for people on skateboards to go by, so I could highjack their boards. I met some skaters and borrowed a board for a couple weeks, until they told me it was time to get my own. My sister Bobbie (RIP) took me to a skate shop in Pacific Beach and we put together a Powell Peralta Skull and Sword with Tracker Trucks and Bones III wheels, complete with rails, a tail skid, copers, a lapper, and a nose guard. That was it. I skated every day for the next 3 years.”

Lynn’s first group of skateboarding friends were Paul Alioshin, her boyfriend at the time, and friends George Cook and Sean Duffy. “I skated to class, before class, home from class, between homework sessions, and on Friday nights.” Her network expanded, as described in a story published within Lives on Boards (2009) when she noticed a sign that invited her to join the UCSD Skateboard Club. Lynn was originally was turned off by the idea of a club, imagining she would have to earn merit badges for tricks! Fortunately, she recognized a friend, Tim Cheng at the skateboard club table next time round and was introduced to Steve Villarreal who was determined to build a ramp on campus under the banner of the Ready to Shred (RTS) skate club.

“The renegade spot was hidden from the street and set back a couple hundred feet… The finished ramp was amazing, complete with a secret hatch on the deck so you could hang out under the platform,” wrote Lynn. And this was where she learned how to build a ramp before she would skate a ramp, although soon enough she was dropping-in and making progress. Lynn insisted that, “I was not very good at skateboarding. I would go for stuff, learned every type of boneless, could drop in the ramp, but it took me six months to learn to ollie and two years to learn how to pump a transition. I would literally drop in, do a couple tricks, and end up at the bottom. But I had the heart, and good bones.”

While there were some challenges with the ramp considering that the campus hadn’t granted them permission, a contact was made with a woman named Laurel Dean from the recreation department . Laurel “guided us through the red tape and defended our right to have recreational facilities just like any other campus club,” as described in a Thrasher article that Lynn and Geth Noble composed for the August 1989 issue – the same issue with Cara-Beth Burnside on the cover!

Lynn had proposed the article by simply calling the magazine, talking to editor Kevin Thatcher, and timing everything perfectly since a story about the San Diego scene was in the works! The article included a photo of Lynn skating the five-foot mini ramp, which was a welcome addition to the set-up that seemed to keep expanding. The ramps thrived and UCSD was recognized as “the first university in the nation to have a fully operational public skatepark.” Fundraisers included a two-day skate-a-thon. “Skaters from all over San Diego showed up to skate, each donating money or canned food to help battered women and children.” 

When Lynn and Paul broke up, she simply found another great crew to skate with, including one other female student at UCSD named Lisa Forman. Lisa “had skated ASPO [Association of Skate Park Owners] with Cara-Beth as adolescents. She ripped on vert, with inverts and laybacks. She travelled with us for Women’s Skateboard Network stories and was often featured in Equal Time.” Lynn also noted via email that, while she was oblivious to any statements that suggested a girl couldn’t do something (since the age of 5), she was fortunate that all the guys at UCSD were her friends and were supportive – and perhaps being associated with folks pursuing higher learning was part of it.   

Through Lynn’s UCSD connections she met a skater named George Medlock, whose former partner Lora (Lyons) had begun some networking with other female skaters through a ‘zine called Ladies Skateworld created by Lauri Kuulei Wong a few years earlier. At George’s suggestion, Lynn continued the project and she was acknowledged in the book Skater Girl (2007) by Patty Segovia and Rebecca Heller as the person who really snowballed this movement. Lynn officially took over the Women’s Skateboard Network in 1988 and sustained her connections through ‘zines.

The first ‘zine from December 1988 was called Girls Who Grind and contained letters from skaters in West Germany and Arkansas, coverage of the November 1988 “Street Life” contest in San Diego, a great story about a roadtrip to Northern California, and a list of World Skateboarding Association (WSA) contests that promised to include Women’s divisions.

The ‘zine name then matured to Equal Time for the following three issues. The ‘zines were made with a Commodore computer, photos and a glue stick, as well as the generosity of Henry Hester and Steve Cathey at the G&S office, which helped the ‘zine evolve from a Xerox copy to a 1000-copy full-size newsprint mag! Lynn even learned to develop black and white photos when George converted his bathroom into a darkroom.

Lynn shared that, “The first issue of Girls Who Grind was mostly my friends: Lisa, a couple ads from Tracker (Linda Prettyman worked there), Powell, who was sponsoring Lori Rigsbee, and G&S (Henry Hester let me use their copy machine). We put the issues in boxes at RAX, a distributor at the time, to send to the shops. I just started getting letters. Some of the first letters I got were from Joyce Wheldrake who owned Hogtown in Toronto, JoAnn Gillespie (Rawkmom) and Patty Segovia, who went on to run the All Girl Skate Jam. From the letters, George and I would plan road trips. We visited Seattle, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. I even visited Stacey (Stace the Ace) and Jax Roper in New Zealand.  It was all word of mouth. Someone would see our Zine in a shop and tell the one girl in town who skated.”

According to Segovia, the motto of Equal Time was “no nuts, just guts” and by 1990 there were over 200 members of the Women’s Skateboard Network, keeping in touch and sharing their progress. By 1992, “Lynn handed off the ‘zine to Joann Gillespie and the Women’s Skateboard Network” (Segovia 122) and even though a recession in the 1990s took its toll on skateboarding, many of those key skateboarders from this time like Patty Segovia helped carry the movement forward.

Lynn was a regular at JoAnn’s mini ramp, and she even had a part skating it within the 1992 film Sk8Hers directed by Ethan Fox:

These photos were also taken by Ethan Fox in 1991 in preparation of his film, Sk8Hers.

As a result, the Equal Time ‘zines are some of the only places to learn about key female skaters in history that have practically been forgotten. There were some bigger names with sponsors that might be familiar today like Cara-Beth Burnside, Anita Tessensohn, Lori Rigsbee, Saecha Clarke, Patty Segovia, and Stephanie Person, but other individuals like Christy Jordahl, Nathalie Richter, Chris Reis, Vicky Voughn, JoAnn Gillespie, and many others were completely under the radar. These ‘zines are an absolute treasure full of interviews, photos, drawings, poetry, announcements like membership details and contests that would include categories for women.

A highlight for Lynn was that “As far as I know, we held the first all-female contest. We called for a Labor Day Skate Jam in 1989. We posted it in Equal Time, and women came from all over, including Chris Reis of Germany, and the whole Santa Cruz crew.  We held a mini-ramp contest in Mike Ryan’s backyard. Mike owned Just Skate in Ocean Beach, and he was the judge. I won that day.  Everyone skated hard, and everyone had their own bags of tricks.” Lynn concluded that, “Many people were grateful for the sisterhood that we had developed.”

Lynn also explained that it was skateboarding injuries that were the catalyst for the Equal Time ‘zines as she had torn her ACL in 1988, which is a good reminder that even injuries can be turned around for good! She wrote, “I wasn’t skating, so I may as well take photos of skaters. I also quit from 1992-2000 when I was learning to snowboard and surf. I had torn my other ACL in 1992 when we had a ramp in our backyard, and the skaters would come over to skate and not say hello or goodbye or thank you. I was over it.” 

Fortunately, this was not the end of Lynn’s skateboarding but rather a whole new chapter was about to explode. “Then in 2000, two things happened. While working at Taylor Dykema’s snowboard factory, I started skating vert again, and Bobby Turner and Howard Gordon of Turner Summerski wanted us to make snowboard constructed slalom boards. The factory wanted me to test the prototypes. I was introduced to the La Costa Boys, and I learned to slalom.  The clincher was, after my first session with the LCB, Hester came up to me and said ‘Lynn, you need to race. You will be one of the top 3 in the world.” I’m like ‘shut up’ and he says ‘I’ve seen a lot of girls do this. I know.’ Thanks Henry.”

Photos: Ken Hada

And, ever since Lynn’s return to competition in 2003 she has been absolutely dominating! “Slalom was the first time that I was the best at anything. I’ve got 15 Overall World Championships, 5 World Records, 2 more that got broken, and I was the first female to have a slalom pro model, put out by Sk8Kings.” And even her parents have now acknowledged skateboarding as a positive pursuit. In an interview for Everything Skateboarding Magazine, Lynn shared that, “I was never allowed to skateboard growing up because my dad was an orthopedist. He thought it was just a way to pay the bills until they came to see the 2004 La Costa Open. Then he told me ‘Wow, that’s really a sport. And wow, you’re actually good at it.’ Now, my mom likes going to races.”

In 2012, Lynn’s Women’s World Record for the fastest 100-cone clean slalom run was posted via SK8KingsTV literally the day after she set the 50-cone record! This kind of effort showcases Lynn’s strength, control, precision, and confidence! And I should mention that her racing success is happening while she simultaneously manages her own engineering company!

The organizers of the Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama selected Lynn to be their skateboarder of honour in 2019 and as far as I’m concerned she’s an obvious choice for the Skateboarding Hall of Fame!

Lynn shared special thanks to: RTS Skate Club of UCSD. George Medlock, Alien Tom, and Holmes. Hester, Tiger Williams and all the La Costa Racing Team. Tiger was the glue for my first three years of racing. The Lehrmanns, Clay Westling, JJ Corning. Di Dootson for her over the top support of La Costa Racing. 

Sk8Kings and all the Carrascos and all the Sk8Kings team, especially Richy and Maria Carrasco and my teammates Brad Jackman and Lou Statman. JSM! I’ve had a lot of sponsors along the way, including G&S, Skaterbuilt, ABEC 11, Turner/3dm/Seismic, Spitfire, Radikal, Pleasure Tools, Oust Bearings, and Khiro.  

Check out Lynn’s website here, follow her on Instagram, and check out all the slalom action on the La Costa Racing Team page, as well.

Photos: George Medlock, Mark McWhinney, Maria Carrasco, Lance Smith, Ken Hada


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