House of Vans introduces women’s skate school

Sneaker brand's pop-up at the Bentway offers female-centric skate clinic for the first time ever

If you’ve always wanted to get on a skateboard – and you’re not a dude – now’s your chance.

This weekend, the House of Vans pop-up is once again taking over the Bentway underneath the Gardiner, bringing a sprawling skate park, live music and a market featuring local vendors. There’s also skate contests and workshops – including, for the first time, the Girls Skate Clinic.

“We’ve been doing the skate clinics as a unisex thing, but it’s new this year that we’re doing something specific for women,” says Alex Auchu, the company’s marketing director, who added that over the course of running the pop-ups, they saw an increasing number of women taking part.

“Obviously, we have a lot of women on our skate team, and in brainstorming meetings, we would get that a lot: ‘It would be cool to do something specific for women. We think it would get a lot of people inspired to take part.’”

Auchu says they partner with organizations in each city to staff the clinics this weekend they’ve teamed up with Scarborough facility Skate Loft. The clinics are open to folks of all ages, and helmets and boards are provided. “You can be someone that never tried skateboarding, and we’ll be able to show you the basics,” Auchu says. At a similar House of Vans event in Calgary earlier this summer, they had 100 women and girls sign up: “We didn’t expect that,” he says.

Additionally, several of Vans’ team skaters will be close by. “We’re there more as a presence – if someone’s got a question, or if some little girl doesn’t know where to start, you can see us cruising around, like, ‘that’s what it’s supposed to look like,’” says Una Farrar, a Victoria, BC, skater who’s part of the Vans team.

Farrar and her fellow team member Breanna Gearing both say there weren’t many female role models for them to look up to when they began skating. “They were few and far between… but when you saw them, it was, ‘Oh, they’re killing it so hard – if they can do this, so can I. There’s no boundaries.'”

“I think for us, now, we’re kind of growing into the people we didn’t have as children to look up to,” Farrar adds. “We’re growing into what we wish we had when we were younger.”

The Girls Skate Clinic runs Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23, 10 am to 1 pm, at the Bentway (250 Fort York). The workshop and House of Vans are both free to attend. | @nataliamanzocco

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