BOONE — Two Appalachian State alumni, Adam Westfall and Ashley Winecoff, qualified for positions on the USA Longboarding skate team at the World Roller Games in Barcelona, Spain. The pair of downhill longboarders traveled to participate in the races in Barcelona from July 2-10 after receiving invitations in the mail in April.
The process of choosing skaters from the International Downhill Federation to qualify for the positions on the USA skate team involved choosing the racers who had the best results from the 2017- 2018 years, according to Winecoff. The event was held from July 4-7 and was an Olympic sanctioned event. Normal skateboarding will be added to the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games and there is a chance for downhill to be added in 2028.
The USA had the largest team at the World Roller Games with 6 men and 6 women serving as representatives, according to Winecoff.
Westfall graduated from Appalachian State in May 2019 with a degree in industrial design and is still a Boone resident. He has been skateboarding for over a decade and began racing a few years ago. At the World Roller Games, his final rank was 18th out of the 64 men who raced. Westfall was one of the 18 riders representing the U.S in the Kozakov Challenge in the Czech Republic from July 17-20. There were riders from 28 nationalities competing in the event for skateboarding. This was the 11th year that the event has been held and it is considered to be one of the premier races in the world. Westfall last participated in the Kozakov Challenge in 2017 and ranked 42 overall out of the 169 racers.
Winecoff placed ninth overall at the World Roller Games out of the 28 women who qualified to race. Traveling to Barcelona was her first trip out of the country and she enjoyed being able to race in the city. Typically races are held in rural areas and she liked the change in scenery.
She has been skateboarding since her freshman year at Appalachian State, when she first picked up a skateboard during winter break and never looked back.
“One of the biggest reasons I was able to get into it is because there was a skate club through the school called the Human Powered Transportation Club and that’s where I met everyone. I went to meetings and if we didn’t skate we talked about skateboarding,” Winecoff said.
Winecoff graduated in May 2018 with a degree in building science. She lives in Boone and works at Ioncon, a local engineering company. During her time at App State, she served as the president of the Human Powered Transportation Club and their main mission at the time was to get skateboarding legalized in Boone and on campus. Until July 2018, skateboarding was illegal and Winecoff was unable to skate to class without getting a citation from the University Police.
Westfall has served as an inspiration to Winecoff and was her motivation to try racing because she saw someone that she knew racing internationally in places like Australia and Europe.
Winecoff first experienced downhill racing at the Mount Jefferson Downhill Skating Event, which has been held for the past four years. The first time she attended the event was during its first year in 2015 and she was serving as a volunteer. She remembers a large crowd of people being there because it was the first event of its kind to be held in the state.
“I show up and there’s like 70 dudes in leather suits and full-face helmets,” Winecoff said, remembering her initial reaction at the event.
This year the fifth annual Mount Jefferson Downhill Skating event will be held July 27-28 at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area in West Jefferson. All trails will be opened to the public to allow visitors to the park the opportunity to enjoy the mountain and experience high speed skateboarding.
Downhill skateboarding is still a relatively small sport, and there are not nearly as many females who are involved in racing in comparison to males, according to Winecoff.
“In some ways it’s growing and in some ways it’s not. A lot of it has to do with the scene in a specific area. I got super lucky that I live in an area where there’s a lot of people who skate and a lot of people who are good at skating and are fun to hang out with,” Winecoff said.
Overall, Winecoff feels that in terms of her experiences with the sport, she simply happened to be at the right place at the right time. The skating scene in Boone continues to grow because of the many hills in the area, and she was also fortunate to have people she could befriend and learn from such as Westfall.