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Meet Ellen O’Neal: The Wonderwoman Of Freestyle Skateboarding

Meet The Wonderwoman Of 1970s Freestyle Skateboarding 

Ellen O’Neal seems to be one of the originators of female cool. And I’d never even heard of her before this article! Have you?

A professional skateboarder from the 1970s, Ellen O’Neal was one of the biggest stars of early skateboarding. With her long, blonde hair and her adorable outfits, she embodied the type of “brand” that so many youngsters are looking to achieve these days.

The cool thing about Ellen O’Neal was that she did it all for the love of skating.

She was living and thriving in her sport during a time when a personal brand didn’t really exist. She still managed to get sponsorships and all that fancy stuff. But when you check out her interviews from the time, she was all about the love of the sport.

Not Just A Boy’s Game 

Ellen O’Neal grew up in San Diego dancing ballet and competing in gymnastics. She combined these skills with her love of body surfing, and got into skateboarding. This was a time when there were very few girls doing the sport.

Ellen O’Neal was so good, in fact, that she frequently beat the teenage boys she was in competition against. She competed all over the West Coast. She is quoted as saying that the “dudes at meets were too focused on blood, money, and prizes”.

So Ellen set her intention to stand out in the field. Combining her gymnastics and dance background, she created freestyle routines to blow everyone away. She would ride two boards at once. Handstands on the board became a part of her routine. Looking like a figure skater and acrobat, she twirled around rooms and skate parks putting everyone in awe.

What’s even more impressive is that skateboarding then was not what it is now. It was an undeveloped sport, and keep in mind that the skateboards themselves were smaller, slower, and stiffer.

This didn’t hold Ellen O’Neal back!

Ellen O’Neal Changed Skateboarding Forever 

Ellen O’Neal made a lasting impression on the field and industry of skateboarding.

With her unique routines and the way she moved on the board, she won competitions all over the place. In 1976 and 1977, the San Diego skater completed third and second respectively in the World Championships. Every time she was just behind one other Ellen – Berryman. Because of this, O’Neal picked up sponsorships by companies like Vans, Gordon & Smith, and Bennett Tracks.

She starred in a film called Skateboard: The Movie, and even got recruited for an episode of Wonder Woman. This particular episode cast a huge spotlight on women’s skateboarding, because Wonder Woman herself skated downhill to catch a couple bad guys.

Ellen O’Neal’s attitude, talent, and her willingness to be different in her field helped to change skateboarding forever.

As she told L.A. Times in 1977:

“It’s more important for me to do my best than to be the best.” – Ellen O’Neal

Ellen recently passed away at the young age of 61. Rest In Peace Ellen, and thank you for being a pioneer in this life.ellen o'neal r-in-the-1970s/


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