Sue Smith took up skateboarding in the 1970s and appears in contest results in the early 1980s in the girls 13 and under categories, representing Lakewood park. Thanks to the newsprint Skat’nNews, there’s a thorough review of competitive skateboarders including the women although the reportage of their runs and background story was still minimal.
The December 2nd, 1980 issue of Skat’nNews was especially helpful because it listed a team directory of who was riding for who, noting that Sue was sponsored as an amateur by Madrid skateboards and Tracker trucks as a 12 year-old. In the same issue, Sue is acknowledged as placing 2nd overall in the Official Overall Standings for the 1980 Gold Cup, behind Cara-Beth Burnside.
A letter written by Cecilia Thomas from Beaverton, Oregon within the December 30th, 1980 issue of Skat’nNews titled, “Where are the Girls?” resulted in a photo of both Sue and Cara-beth! Cecilia asked, “How come you guys don’t print pictures of girl skateboarders. I know there’s lots of them out skating but you choose to ignore them. Why? Is it because we don’t act radical or choose not to wear ‘punked-out!’ trash?” The editors acknowledged that it was true and they would aim to step up.
Sue finally took out Cara-beth at ASPO 8 in Lakewood, December 6, 1980, which was Sue’s home skatepark. Skat’nNews shared, “In the girls skateboard class, this was the first time for Sue Smith to take the winner’s spot in the slalom over consistent winner, Carabeth Burnside.” The ranking was repeated at the Big O for the final ASPO event of 1980. Smith won the slalom and Burnside won the pool event and the rankings followed suit for the ASPO Final Standings of the year.
In the January 19, 1981 of Skat’nNews, the editor LP wrote about Burnside and Smith saying, “Too bad there aren’t any more girl skaters participating in ASPO. These two young ladies have shown tremendous improvement this past year and should have more competition then they have had, to show their ability. It’s very possible that next season, they may have to compete with some of the boys, which at this point, it appears that they will do quite well” (p. 9). This statement ended up coming true, and sadly it took almost a whole decade before we would see separate categories for female skateboarders, due to the rallying efforts of the Women’s Skateboard Network circa 1989.
And yet, Sue was not phased! In a pool contest at the SkaterCross park over the Christmas weekend of 1980, she came 3rd as the only female. She was ahead of well-known skaters like Jeff Grosso and Eric Nash. The article on the contest read: “A surprising third place went to Sue Smith, a non-local skater and the only girl in this class, who performed excellent in strange surroundings. Sue should be complimented.” As a result, a photo of Sue competing in slalom (taking 2nd place!) taken by Probert was shared in the January 19, 1981 issue from the same contest.
It’s likely that with the closure of many skateparks and the elimination of a girls’ category in skateboarding contests, Sue decided to pursue other activities. And yet, in the zine Equal Time (Vol. 1, No 3) from 1989, there’s a photo of a “Susan Smith” doing a boneless during a street contest held in Tempe, Arizona on April 12, 1989. It’s hard to tell if it’s the same person since she would be 21… can anyone confirm?
- January 26, 1980 – 1st place Girls Open, Vans/Offshore All-American Amateur Series #4 event at the Del Mar Skate Ranch.
- February 2, 1980 – 1st place Girls 13 & under ‘capsule pool’, Big O, Orange CA.
- August 1980 – 4th place Pro Women’s (tied with Cindy Whitehead), Gold Cup #4, Marina del Rey.
- September 13, 1980 – 4th place in pool, 1st place in slalom, 3rd overall for Girls Open, ASPO Marina skatepark.
- Late fall, 1980 – 3rd place Girls division, ASPO Colton Park.
- November 15, 1980 – 3rd place Girls division, ASPO 7 at Pipeline park, Upland, CA.
- December 6, 1980 – 1st place Girls banked slalom, 3rd place Girls park, ASPO 8 at Lakewood, CA.
- December 27, 1980 – All genders 13 and under: 2nd place tight slalom, 3rd place pool, 9th place cross-country.
- January 1981 – 2nd place Amateur Girls, Gold Cup, Upland, CA.