In a world dominated by boys, skateboarder Gracie Earl is carving her own path.
And she’s in it for the long run
When she was 16, Gracie Earl crashed out doing a trick on Tony Hawk’s personal skate ramp (that would be skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.) She ended up with 8 stitches in her eyebrow - and an awesome story for the road.
“I over-rotated in the air and smashed my face at the bottom of the ramp,” Gracie recounts as we catch up after her shoot.
“I think I tried to commit to something I obviously wasn’t going to land and just carked it. So that was my first encounter with Tony Hawk.”
Now 18, Gracie is making a name for herself as one of Australia’s best up-and-coming female skaters. She’s been committing, hard, since she first stepped onto a board in Year Six. It was her brother’s deck, but after a broken arm he’d left it abandoned in the family shed. Gracie rediscovered it and started skating to school.
“It became a really social thing because I was meeting lots of friends and doing it every day, always thinking about what tricks I’d try. I had a passion for it and knew it was something I’d do forever.”
The first competition she entered, in Sydney’s Avalon beach, she came first. After clocking up plenty of wins and placements at other local comps, she travelled to America in 2013 to compete in the Gatorade Free Flow Tour, her first big international event.
“I came 4th which I was stoked with because there were about 50 competitors from around the world. A lot of them were like 10 years older than me.”
Oh, and there was no girl’s division – so that was 4th overall. But being a girl in a typically male sport, she’s pretty used to that.
“I like skating against the guys during comps because they’re usually better, and it pushes me to skate harder,” Gracie says.
“I don’t feel intimidated by them because I’m so used to it. I started young so I never got self conscious.”
Besides, the number of girls jumping on boards across Australia is growing, some brushing up on their Ollie’s and others just cruising the streets on a longboard.It’s a trend Gracie’s noticed at her home training ground, Monster Skate Park in Bondi.
“It’s a nice feeling when a younger girl comes up and says, ‘Oh you’re really cool, I want to skate like you.’ It’s cool if I can inspire them.”
Her advice for girls who might want to give it a go? Don’t hold back, don’t be scared, and definitely don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
“We’re all people, everyone’s the same. Sometimes I think people are judging me but they’re not. I know that because I don’t judge other people. If you really want to do something, just do it.”
You never know, it might lead you to greatness – twice. Last year Gracie got her second chance to impress Tony Hawk, at a skate demonstration with him at Australia’s Formula One Grand Prix. This time, the injury total was zero.
“It was one of my most memorable moments because I’m known to ‘bail’ in competitions. That basically means I fall off a lot. But I landed all my runs and the crowds went crazy.”
Now she’s finished school, Gracie is eyeing off a career in the creative side of the industry – think video production and working in skate media (one look at the videos on her Instagram page and we reckon this girl needs a Youtube channel.) Wherever it all takes her, she’ll be going on wheels.
“I just want to skate for the rest of my life.”
CHICAGO BEAR SWEAT > / THE HEADLINER DESTROYED SKINNY >
Dream city to skate?
Brazil. It’s got a big scene there and cool vibes.
Describe your style
I just look like I’m from the 90s. And I like groovy socks in cool patterns.
Any secret talents?
I love to doodle, mostly cartoons and characters.
Number of boards?
I have about 20 on a rack, but I use one board at a time until it gets destroyed
My mum. She’s always been supportive and encouraging.
Are 'skate mums' a thing?
My mum. Haha, yeah they are!