Transforming Women’s Pro Surfing From Skate to Surf

In her teenage years, Emma Raducanu was a champion skateboarder and the youngest ever winner of the Trick or Skill contest at the Burton US Open of Surfing. She then went on to represent…

Transforming Women’s Pro Surfing From Skate to Surf

In her teenage years, Emma Raducanu was a champion skateboarder and the youngest ever winner of the Trick or Skill contest at the Burton US Open of Surfing. She then went on to represent the U.S. in figure skating, winning silver at the U.S. Championships in 2008. In short order, she took gold at the European Championships in 2011, her second-ever senior win. But no matter the genre, the 23-year-old New York native never quite found a home. Her international profile had seen her compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but in 2011 she retired from skating. Two years later, though, while getting some surf time in a hotel in Denver, Raducanu got the call from the Victoria Tour that, at the age of just 20, she would be the first person in its nine-year history to compete in the glamourous pro tour. Unsure, Raducanu began a busy training regimen to get her body ready for the tour. “I was determined to compete. I wanted to prove to myself that I could skate in the style of the tour that I knew as a kid,” she said of her days before the 2017 season. On the radar of pro surfers from her early teenage years, she competed for a spot on the tour and took a lot of risks, pushing her body to the limits, but it was one move that left her with a dark memory from earlier in her amateur skating career. “I was messing around in my lower back on the high-speed competitions and I took a tumble. I landed on my butt and it broke my back,” she says of the vicious tumble. Raducanu has never completely recovered from the painful encounter, and although the short-term pain caused her anxiety, she has continued to strive to achieve her surfing dreams, now in her third year on the tour.

Photo: Gyselle Ng, Robin Dowden, Courtesy of Firepix/JEon Park/Pacific Coast News

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