April Hoffman

April Hoffman (Weems) is indeed fortunate being the grand-daughter of the legendary couple Jeanne and Stan Hoffman who opened and operated the Pipeline Skatepark (AKA Badlands) from 1977-1988 in Upland, California. Her dad, Don Hoffman is a surfer and skater as well, and has been rallying the past five years to produce a film on the history of the park through his website and initiative Pipeline Digital Media.

April is best known for her freestyle performances in the 1980s with her dominance beginning back in her early teens. An article in the October 1983 issue of Thrasher reported on the Oceanside Freestyle Amateur when April came second behind Diane Veerman (Desiderio) and ahead of Michelle Sanderson. It was noted that, “Ever since [April] saw Rodney Mullen skate some months ago, she’s been hooked on freestyle, and her repertoire consists of the more gutsy moves instead of the fluid femininity of her contenders.”

At the Del Mar Holiday Classic at Del Mar Skate Ranch (December 30-31st, 1983) there was a banked freestyle contest, again with April taking second behind Leslie Ann Miller and ahead of Sanderson and Wendy Carmona, with little detail in the February 1984 issue of Thrasher. April also competed against the guys. At the NSA Summer Olympics #1 at Del Mar on April 21st, 1984 a photo sequence by Mofo of April doing a rail flip appeared in the June 1984 issue of Thrasher, although her official results weren’t shared.

She did place 7th in Freestyle out of 8 sponsored amateurs at the July 1984 Venice Beach NSA contest, and within the October 1984 issue of Thrasher reporting on the Embarcadero Freestyle contest in San Diego it was stated that, “There were a couple of girls in the amateurs that were real good freestylers. April Hoffman got eighth place and Michelle Sanderson did pretty good, too.”

Michelle and April were obviously pretty close friends, motivating each other to compete. There are photos of them competing at the NSA Summer Olympics #2 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco within the July 1984 issue of Thrasher (above).

The following year in 1985, April was back competing at Del Mar, and she had her best result against the guys, placing 5th overall at the NSA Border Wars in Vancouver, Canada. Footage of her performance can be enjoyed here:

Thrasher finally clued in that there were women consistently skateboarding and in April 1986 readers were graced with the writing of Bonnie Blouin, and her game-changing article, “Sugar and Spice..?” A photo of April is included, along with Sanderson, Stephanie Person, Babs Fahrney, KZ Zapata, and the author who went on to be the first female columnist for the magazine.

Vancouver became an important location in August 1986 with the celebration of Expo ’86 and the Transworld Skateboarding Championship. It was an international field with several of the skaters having never competed against other women, but rather pitted against the guys in their community. Corina ‘Go Go’ Spreiter of Switzerland was first, Sue Hazel of England took second, and April came third, followed by Sophie Bourgeois, Sanderson, and Person, as reported in the December 1986 issue of Thrasher.

While it’s wonderful to have footage of the Expo ’86 competition, as featured in the Transworld video Radical Moves (1986, dir. Larry Dean), the awkward commentary by Kim Blackett, which included dismissive commentary towards the female participants was painful. Fortunately, Blackett did acknowledge that April’s grandmother (Jeanne) owned one of the only skateparks left in the U.S. and how April was the top amateur NSA Freestyle skater when she was only 13.

The results of the female skaters were not included in the overall Team award for Expo ’86, nor did they receive any cash, but the experience itself was still positive. The only other mention of April I could find was at a CASL Freestyle contest in Anaheim, CA in 1987 where she placed 8th out of 12 competitors in the Factory Sponsored division for all genders. Apparently there were 154 freestylers at this event and a photo of April was included in G Turn ‘zine.

From what I can find on social media, April now lives with her family in Texas! Hopefully we’ll be able to connect.

Photos: Tod Swank, Mofo


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