|The Mega Ramp at Woodward West / Photo via Woodward West|
Most people have seen the x-games and watched the male skaters roll into the huge and ominous Mega Ramp carrying so much speed that their airs on the quarter pipe are the height of tall buildings. We've seen what happens when it all goes well and unfortunately when it sometimes goes wrong. But we always stay tuned and hold our breath, and most of us are thinking, "no way you'd ever get me up there". A few girls over the years have decided that they'd try it as well, breaking boundaries for female skaters everywhere - rad girls like Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, & Alana Smith to name a few.
But times are changing and there are now a couple even younger girls who love the rush they get from riding this beast. Minna Stess and Brighton Zeuner are two girls who are not even in their teens yet who are making their mark and not holding back.
We thought we'd sit down with both Brighton & Minna and discuss what it's really like to ride the mega, why they like it so much & what you need to do if you want to make it one of your goals!
How old are you girls?
Brighton: I’m 10
Minna: I just turned 9 two weeks ago.
How long have you been skating?
Brighton: About 3 years
Minna: Since I was about 2 years old. I was trying to skate in diapers! I did my first skate contest in Hawaii when I was four because that is where I dropped in for the first time!
|Minna & Brighton / Mega Ramp Skaters / Photos by: Joanne Barratt Island Style Images|
Brighton: Encinitas, CA
Minna: Sonoma County NorCal near San Francisco
What is your favorite type of skateboarding?
Brighton: Vert, bowl, street...all of it! I love vert & bowl but recently started skating more street, and really like it. I’ve found it makes me a better all around skater if I skate it all.
Minna: I really like the Megaramp and bowl and street and everything too
Do you remember the first time you saw anyone skate the mega?
Brighton: Yes, I first looked up at the Megaramp when I went to the X Games Big Air in LA in 2012 when all the young guys, Trey Wood, Tom Schaar and Jagger Eaton were competing. I knew them so it made it even more cool to see. I was just a rolling around kind of skateboarder at the time. I was blown away. The summer after that, I really decided that skateboarding was my thing.
Minna: When I was about 2 and a half I saw Bob Burnquist skate the Megaramp in the 3D X-Games movie! I was so excited! I told my mom, “I want to do THAT!” My mom says she didn’t think I would remember that but she is wrong!
What did you think when you watched them skate it?
Brighton: I was stoked. I mean, I knew them, and they were 11 & 12 years old skating that massive ramp with huge gaps with the big guys. That was so cool.
Minna: I was so so so excited!
Brighton: Neal Hendrix invited me and I thought well, I may never get this opportunity again, so I need to take advantage of it. Now I’m hooked. I mean totally hooked!
Minna: I just wanted to do it because it looked like so much fun and it makes you go really fast!
When was the first time you skated the Mega?
Brighton: That was my first time...at the Mega & Vert Getaway Weekend at Woodward.
Minna: The first time I skated the Mega was at Woodward West at camp when I was 7.
Brighton: Yes! I used my mom’s board. It’s bigger with bigger trucks and wheels. We tightened the heck out of the trucks. I also wore more protective gear around my shoulders and back, and wore butt pads. They’re fun to dance in!
Minna: I ride bigger trucks and they are tighter and I have tried with an 8.0 but I like it better with my regular size board which is a 7.5. I also changed out my bushings too. A big thank you to Trey Wood who loaned me a set of hard bushings for the weekend because my soft bushings were totally done! That was really nice of him, he is really really really so nice!
|Minna dropping in and keeping her speed|
Tell us what it was like the very first time you stood at the top of the roll in ramp and looked out at it?
Brighton: I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intimidating but I was up there with my friends so when they did it, I had to do it. That’s skateboarding.
Minna: It looked really big but I just wanted to do it!
Who was there with you and what advice did they give you when you were up there?
Brighton: Neal Hendrix, Elliot Sloan, Trey Wood and the other Woodward staff members were up there giving all of us tips and encouragement, and saying, “come on, just do it.”
Minna: Emu Haynes, Ava Cavanaugh and Arianna Carmona were all saying, “Come on Minna! You can do it! Just try it!”
|Brighton enjoying the air up there|
Did the gap you have to clear worry you a bit?
Brighton: There’s not a real gap at Woodward. You can roll over it so that makes it less intimidating.
Minna: There is no gap on the Mega at Woodward West, there are 3 different sections to choose from to air up to the landing (where the gap would be but it’s not it’s wood there)
Have you ever done a gap jump before the Mega?
Brighton: I’ve gap’d on a mini mega before, but it is way smaller than this beast.
Minna: I have jumped Euro gaps in skateparks and gaps on the street when I skate with my brother, but not the Mega gap, not YET anyway!
There seems like a lot you have to remember before dropping in right? (Like committing 100%, rolling in fast and keeping your speed, clearing the gap you choose and then hitting the vert wall) How do you keep calm and remember what to focus on?
Brighton: Well, you just need to stay on. There’s really no other choice. I mean, there are places on the ramp where you can bail and go to your knees but that’s no fun because it’s a wasted turn and then you have to go back up the hill and wait your turn again.
Minna: There is a lot but I just think about going for it, think about landing it, stay calm and just try it!
|Minna with a big backside air|
Describe what it felt like when you dropped in the very first time?
Brighton: I was like whoa! On my first roll down the Mega, I threw it away and bailed out like a wuss, haha.
Minna: I was like ,” OH YEAAAAH!” It felt so awesome! Exciting!
Did it make you want to do it again and again or was it more like “I’m done, did it and all good”?
Brighton: After that first roll, I couldn’t wait to get back up there. Then it was a race against daylight to get as many runs as possible.
Minna: YES! AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!!! I LOVE THE MEGARAMP!!!!!
Did you get a chance to drop in from the vert section of ¼ pipe?
Brighton: No, I was working on getting over the gap and landing a trick over coping.
Minna: Yes! I dropped in on the 28 foot quarter pipe last summer at camp when I was 8.
It’s 27 or 28 feet with I think 2 feet of vert I think. It felt like I was floating all the way down.My dad took video of me and showed me that I was actually floating in the air for the vert part but I didn’t know it! It was so cool to watch after! It was so so so so so much fun!
Are you practicing any tricks now on the ¼ pipe when you hit it?
Brighton: I stuck to good ole back side airs. TBH, it was easier airing the quarter pipe than kick turning on it.
Minna: I like doing backside airs over coping right now. I want to get them bigger and bigger. Maybe mute airs next and christ airs? I really want to do a full pull next time I am there but for a full pull on mega is getting over the gap first then airing the quarter pipe. That is really my next goal on the mega. 540’s some day soon!!
|Brighton going for a backside air out of the huge 1/4 pipe|
You were both just at Woodward West for a 3 day vert & mega ramp clinic – were you two the only two girls there?
Brighton: Yes we were the only 2 girls skating that weekend. That’s pretty normal for us.
I know skating with boys is normal for you girls, but were some boys surprised that girls your age wanted to skate the mega?
Brighton: No, I don’t get that special treatment anymore, haha. I don’t like special treatment just because I’m a girl, or a young kid, so I just skate. They treat me like one of the boys.
Minna: I don’t think so, I’ve skated it since I was 7. Everyone knew I skated the Mega before because of the video that Woodward West made of me last year.
|Minna & Brighton the only 2 girls at the Mega Ramp weekend|
I remember seeing the first pics of Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins skating Bob Burnquist’s Mega Ramp years ago and I was in awe – not that many girls have done it – or wanted to try it since – why do you think that is?
Brighton: Well, there are only 2 Megaramps that I know of...Bob’s and Woodward’s, so it’s a really special thing to get to skate one. I think if more girls could see ladies like Lyn-Z ripping the Mega at Nitrocircus, there would be more girls heading to Woodward to try it. Alana Smith kills the 2.0 Megaramp, which is the smaller one, and skates against the boys in the Kia Extreme Games and Kimberly Diamond Cup. I really want to go to Woodward East to try that one!
Minna: I don’t know! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to skate it! Lyn-Z is amazing! I have watched a bunch of Nitro Circus videos of her, she is amazing she floats! Bob Burnquist is my favorite skater! I skated on Bob’s mega before and it was awesome too! He even let me try his board on it! His board was way too big for me but it was so much fun to try it at his house on his board on his mega!!!
|A great role model - Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana ready to drop in on the Mega|
We see the Mega at the X-Games each year and it’s an event people love to watch and there haven’t been any girls competing in that event (yet) – when you are a bit older and
ready, is that something you’d like to do?
Brighton: Oh my gosh, yes! I’d love to add Mega to my bag. It’s so much fun.
Minna: I would love to! Our whole family has gone to X-Games to watch it live a couple of times now! It’s extra amazing to watch when it’s right in front of you!
You girls are both setting a great example for both boys and girls to follow their dreams, what advice do you have for other girls who may want to try and follow in your footsteps and skate the mega ramp?
Brighton: I think you nailed it. Follow your dreams. Think big and go for it. My parents always say Carpe something, haha, I know it’s Carpe Diem. So Seize the Day!
Minna: Don’t be afraid or you could get hurt. Just commit to it and wear full padding!
|Minna getting an ATV ride back to the top to do it all over again|
Any last words or thoughts you’d like to add?
Brighton: If it wasn’t for the awesome Woodward West facility and their staff, we wouldn’t have had this opportunity. So thank you to them for making it happen. A huge thank you to Neal Hendrix, Elliot Sloan and Olivia Reed for putting the event together and inviting me. And thank you Cindy Whitehead for all you do for us girls and caring enough to take the time to share it!
Minna: Skateboarding is fun and if you want to do it you should go do it. It doesn’t matter if you are a girl or a boy. Skate everything and have fun! Thank you Cindy!
Last word from GN4LW - Please check out Woodward West and find out how you can attend one of their amazing skate camps and learn everything from the basics to riding the mega!