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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"The Legend of the World's Fastest Skateboarder" as told to Hayes Hemingway by Mike Horelick of Tunnel Skateboards

Once again Hayes Hemingway gives us golden stories. In honor of women's history month, why not tell the legend of Leslie Jo Ritzma.

{Photo from Tunnel Skateboards}

Tunnel was always involved in the Signal Hill Races which were held down in Long Beach in the late 1970's. They were one of the first downhill skateboarding competitions. The first woman ever to compete was Leslie Jo Ritzma, Mitch's (the original owner of Tunnel Skateboards) sister-in-law. She went to the sign-ups and they told her, "I'm sorry, you can't sign up." She said, "Why not?" They said, "Women aren't allowed." She said, "That's ridiculous." She wasn't herself a skateboarder, but she got mad and called Women's Rights organizations. The thing about the contest that year in 1977, was that it was being televised for the first time. The Women's Rights group called the TV station and the TV station told the contest people that they have to allow women in the race. They allowed her in but they told her that she had to learn how to skateboard. After some practice she decided to use a lay-down style. She rode the Tunnel Rock in that race. Another woman also entered making it two women in total. Well the other woman wiped out and Leslie Jo Ritzma survived, and won at a speed of 51 miles per hour, on her stomach. In those days they would enter the records in the Guinness Book of World Records, so she got her name in there as "The World's Fastest Female Skateboarder,"and that was also Tunnel's claim to fame.

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