Colorado 1970s Slalom

From 1975-1978, there was a thriving skateboarding scene in Colorado primarily focused on slalom racing in the Rocky Mountains, and it included a crew of women. These skateboarders were celebrated in the August 1978 issue of The National Skateboard Review, with a photo of Barb Hellberg, Janice “Berger” Rumberger, Kathy Ruh, Lisa Wilson, Cindy Langhill and Ann McIntosh.

A short article explained why the women are smiling, which was because they had the opportunity to skate Vail Pass. “Most of us are new at skating, I’d have to say skiing is the main sport up here where we have more winter than summer, but we had the sweetest place in the world to learn. In 1977 the Colorado highway department completed 5 miles of two lane highway from Copper Mountain to the top of Vail Pass, however, due to a snafu on one of the bridges the road remained closed to traffic for months. (Let’s hear it for the highway department!) Imagine a sunny day, a new highway devoid of traffic, set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, then put on your headphones and skate away. Outrageous, you bet! Road riding at is best” (p. 7).

There were more skaters in the Colorado scene, who were often alpine ski racers choosing something fun to do in the off season. Slalom racers included Bernadette Digneo, Betsy Turek, Brenda Harvey, Catherine Donnell, Diane Jensen, Jennifer Mooney, Karen Kaufman, Kelly Smith, Laura Nye, Shawnee Blackwell, Susie Brown, Terry Carroll, Tiania Tutt, Tracy Biernat, Virginia Warfield, and Wendy Augenstein. In the contest results, there’s also mention of out-of-towners being Edie Robertson (Santa Barbara, CA), Shelly Sessions (Salt Lake City, UT) and Canon “Bunny” Price (Lomita, CA).

In 2021, a 550+ page book called ARA’s Untold Story: Skateboard racing in the Rockies: Colorado 1975 – 1978 was written in great detail by Peter Camann. ARA stood for “Another Roadside Attraction” which was a racing series for pro and amateur that became a real success in the summers of 1977 and 1978 as reported on in the September 1977 issue of The National Skateboard Review. Two articles from Colorado were included, with one about the ARA by Peter Camann in Aspen, and another about the Breckenridge ’77 Pro-Am contest. Camann’s article didn’t mention any women, while the Breckenridge feature at least acknowledged the existence of a women’s division and the winner, which was Rebecca Williams, sponsored by Gullwing, but again focused more intently on the men’s division.

In his book on page 33, Camann wrote,

“The Ladies Division turned out to be a wonderful surprise because the hard truth of the matter was there were only a few women skateboarding in Summit County in the months leading up to this event. So, when staff registered 10 in the division, it showed us that more women would ultimately find out for themselves what we had already discovered, that the sport was just too much fun to not get into! The winner, Diane Jensen (left) is on the white course. Her opponent, Tiania Tutt (right), an accomplished alpine ski racer finished second.”

Whenever I read that a male skateboarder was surprised by the participation of women, claiming that there were only few, I take it with a grain of salt. It’s more likely that the women had already found skateboarding, and it was actually just the men tuning in to the fact that more existed because they weren’t paying attention, or the women weren’t skateboarding directly in front of them. Classic!

One of the favored locations was “Mom’s Hill” in Lakewood, a suburb just west of Denver where Edie Robertson impressed many skaters in 1976 at age 16 after hosting a freestyle clinic (p. 296). Based on the results, it sounded like Edie “cleaned everyone’s clock” according to Camann, but there were lots of battles with local Colorado skaters to make things competitive.

Grateful for the insight about the 1970s scene in Colorado, when emphasis often circles around Southern California.


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