COLUMBIA — Eleven-year-old Olivia Mayer’s hair isn't an issue anymore when she is on a skateboard.
“When she first decided she wanted to come out here in prime time, she contemplated putting her hair under her helmet and dressing up like a boy,” her mother, Christine Mayer, said.
Saturday, Olivia Mayer wore her dark brown hair in a ponytail that came out of the back of her light blue helmet. She was one of many skaters who filled Columbia Skate Park for the seventh annual Shred Fest, but she was the only female on a board.
Olivia Mayer, who attends Fellowship Christian School, said she has come to enjoy being the only girl at the skate park.
“It’s kind of fun being the only one," she said. "Sometimes they just make jokes and I’m like ‘Hey,’ but I’ve gotten used to it."
Still, Christine Mayer said being the lone female skater has been a struggle for her daughter at times.
“We used to have to come on the weekends at like 7 a.m. when we could avoid all the boys,” she said. “She’s intimidated a little bit by it sometimes; she thinks people are looking at her. But I think she’s getting over it now.”
Shane Stander, co-owner of Parkside Skateshop, was the master of ceremonies at the Shred Fest, which included five competitions and several free skates. He said he has seen some girls embrace the sport but says they are in the minority at the skate park.
“Last summer we had two girls in our skate camp, and I see girls from time to time come in and get boards,” he said. “You don’t see them out here all the time, but they live somewhere in Columbia and skate in their driveways or on sidewalks. It’s heavily dominated by boys, but there are girls out there.”
As males of all ages whizzed across the skate park, Olivia, still a beginner in the sport, stayed out of the center of the action. She rode her skateboard along the side of the park as her mother looked on. Christine Mayer said that though her daughter is a cautious participant in the sport, the extreme nature of skateboarding is right up her alley.
“She has kind of had a need for speed,” Christine Mayer said. “I’m a little worried when she turns 16. She has a little adrenaline problem; she likes to go fast. So I’m not really surprised by this at all.”
Olivia Mayer, who wore kneepads along with her helmet for protection, said she took her first big fall about a month ago.
“My friend was going down a hill and he fell off, so I stopped,” Olivia Mayer said. “I didn’t realize how fast I was going, and I just fell over and did a belly dive across the pavement.”
Although it was her first major wipeout, Christine Mayer said her daughter’s reaction was one of a skateboarding veteran:
“Oh cool. I hope it scars.”