BOONE — Boone local Ashley Winecoff placed second in the Women’s Downhill Skateboarding Championships hosted by World Skate — a competition featuring skaters from around the world.
Winecoff, a USA Downhill Skateboarding Team member, travelled to San Juan, Argentina in early November to race against 32 qualifying top-ranked women downhill skateboarders. The race involved riding just under a mile through hairpin bends on Punta Negra Dam Road.
World Skate hosts the international competition every other year but postponed the 2021 games to the fall of this year due to COVID related complications. The 2022 World Skate Games came to end after three weeks of competitions the weekend of Nov. 16 with the awarding of 126 medals to the top performing athletes of the 5,000 participants.
Downhill skateboarders raced in four heats of four racers. Winecoff was ranked fifth on the bracket based on her qualifying times and won her first heat and placed second in her other three heats.
Winecoff said the six member Team USA had three practice days in extreme heat and an off-schedule qualifying event, but race day went according to plan.
“It wasn’t that hot, we were on time. Everything was going to plan so everybody was like, ‘OK, it’s time to race,’” Winecoff said.
Doing months of yoga to better prepare herself mentally, Wincoff said she was not nervous and was just trying to “enjoy the experience as much as (she) could.”
Winecoff said she is still processing her second-place win. She said she was looking forward to placing that high for a long time and it just hasn’t quite sunk in that it actually happened.
“That’s one of the really unique things about racing,” Winecoff said. “You never know what could happen — you could win the race. It’s wild. There’s no way to fully prepare.”
Though Winecoff is still taking in her victory, the skateboarding community in Western North Carolina is “super stoked” to be represented by one of their own.
“This is a really huge hub for skating. It’s a really good place to skate, one of the best in the world,” Winecoff said. “There’s a lot of pride to live here and skate here and I feel like that transferred to me because I’m from North Carolina and I love everybody that skates here and I am so happy that I get to live here and skate here. It’s a really unique community to be apart of.”
For athletes to participate in the World Skate Games, they have to qualify in a race sanctioned by their governing body. Winecoff raced in California, Washington and Vermont this year — winning the event in California — to qualify for the international competition.
Winecoff said she began skating in 2015 during winter break of her first year at App State. Bored in her hometown of Huntersville, she found an old board and became hooked immediately. She saved up to get a bigger board and returned to Boone with hopes of finding others who loved to skate.
Through the group North Carolina Downhill, Winecoff was able to establish herself in the skating community, with members sharing gear, advice and passion. She participated in her first race in West Jefferson in 2015 and said she thought, “I want to do this.”
“Sometimes you just have to imagine something completely different,” Winecoff said. “I would have never imagined this being my life.”
Skating the Boone Greenway, near App State’s field hockey field and any other spot it’s allowed, Winecoff developed her skills and love for the sport and community.
Winecoff said that Zionville Ramp Co. founder Ashley Galleher is a large contributor to the positive skateboarding community in the area. First building a ramp in her yard, Galleher would host ladies nights that Winecoff said combined “a nice skateable ramp with feminine energy.” Now, Galleher teaches lessons, hosts events and builds ramps through her company.
Winecoff has also received plenty of support from the Boone community at large, as she is sponsored by Boone Fungi in addition to large skate brand Comet.
When she is not competing, training or skating for fun, Winecoff is a freelance building designer and skate instructor. She said seeing the next generation of skateboarders learn makes her excitement for the sport “make sense” to her.
Winecoff said she would love to see the community in Western North Carolina embrace the sport more and see it as a point of pride. She said that downhill skateboarding is more than going fast: it’s meditative and a fun, adrenaline-inducing way to get outside.