“Suck My Trucks!” Berlin Celebrates the Sisterhood of Skateboarding

A few weeks back, Europe’s best up-and-coming female skaters headed to Berlin for Germany’s biggest, girls-only skate competition. We talked to contest organizer Anna Groß about skating in Berlin and why you've gotta tell people to Suck My Trucks sometimes.

Known for its all-night clubbing, gritty charm, and brutal history, Berlin is probably not the first city that springs to mind when you think about skateboarding, let alone women’s skateboarding. Alongside the hedonistic youth culture and throbbing mob of party goers, there is, however, a strong women’s skate scene that has been growing steadily year on year. As Germany’s biggest girls-only skateboarding contest, Suck My Trucks is testament to that. Now in its sixth edition, this competition – complete with spot tour, exhibition and after party – is attracting rad female skateboarding talent from all over Europe and beyond.

Contest organizer and head judge, Anna Groß, has been promoting women’s skating in Berlin for over 15 years. After two days of gnarly skating, high-fiving and generally celebrating sisterhood, she sat down to tell us about the event’s roots and Berlin’s burgeoning skate scene.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Anna. For those who don’t know, can you tell us about the Suck My Trucks concept?

Anna Groß: Suck My Trucks started six years ago, when the owner of Cassiopeia (a converted squat complex that houses the skate park) offered us a day, once a year, when we could hold a competition for girls. She was really encouraging to Yvonne and Gienna, the two founders, and pushed them to organize the Suck My Trucks contest. At the time, there were no other women’s contests in the whole of Germany, so we seized the opportunity and worked hard to create a female-only contest that would take girls seriously with money and prizes. We wanted girls to come here and watch so that they got engaged and wanted to start skating, too. That was, and still is, our dream.

When you first started, how big was the competition?

At first it was very small: we had 12 riders from different European countries. There was a group from the Netherlands that we were already networking with and they still bring a group of riders every year, which is awesome. By the second year we also had girls from Sweden, Argentina and Brazil come to participate, and that’s really when we realised how far girls were prepared to travel to get to skate together.

There wasn’t a very big competitive platform for women at that time.

Exactly. There have always been competitions with a small women’s category, and sometimes there’s a jam for girls, but usually there’s not really anything dedicated only to girls. With this concept, our aim was not only to have a competition, but also to incorporate a street tour and barbecue so the girls could spend some time together. It’s the experience of hanging out with other girls that love to skate that is so much fun. When you arrive at a spot in the city with 15 to 20 girls that are really good, all the boys are super surprised by the number of girls, and even more when they see that we can actually all skate. This is a really empowering feeling. A lot of girls come back year after year because they love it so much.

Berlin isn’t typically a city that first springs to mind when you think about skateboarding. What’s the Berlin skate scene like?

There’s a very high level of skateboarding here, and it’s very international, which I think is great. And that’s because Berlin is a pretty awesome place to skate. There’s lots of amazing spots, but they’re very spread out so you have to travel to get to them. In other cities, you can easily skate from spot to spot as the ground is smooth concrete. Here it’s all gravel and cobbles, so you have to carry your board or cycle everywhere, which is nice in its own way because people stay at the spots for longer and hang out together more.

I feel like that reflects the nature of the city itself. A little gritty, lots of hidden gems that you have to work to find, but when you do they’re always worth it.

(Laughs) Exactly! There’s good spots and there’s rough spots… You have to travel to find them, but most of the time it’s worth it. Sometimes maybe not…

How has the girls’ scene here changed over the years?

When I started skating there was one park where three or four girls would go skate. I felt that there could be more women and I started thinking what I could do to support that. Girls often need an extra push to start skating because of the way they were raised or because of society and sexism, especially in this industry. So, I started giving workshops for girls, way back in 2002. Now the girls’ scene is definitely growing, there’s lots of 12 – 15-year-old girls coming into the scene which is really cool.

Are there any girls that we should really be watching from the Berlin skate scene?

There was one girl skating today, Caroline, she’s amazing. She’s been skating for quite some time and she’s never left the scene. Luzie, who was also skating today, is another one to look out for. And there are some awesome girls from other cities in Germany who will be part of the Olympic team.

Which leads us to the Olympics’ question: How do you think the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics will change the sport for girls?

It will definitely have an effect. People are going to take the sport more seriously and recognize that female skateboarding actually exists, which is still something new as we often just get ignored. I can already see it changing now—we got support for the competition this year that we haven’t had before. The girls are getting funding for travel costs, supported in their training, and more sponsors—and it’s not even close to 2020 yet! Of course there’s always the question of whether you what to ride for a national team in the national colors. But from our perspective here running this contest, I can already see it’s going to have a good and interesting impact on the scene.

It sounds like you still have some reservations on a personal level.

I do have reservations. I don’t like the idea of nations and I don’t like the idea of people having to listen to the anthem before they can start skating, the two don’t fit! Having a coach for a team is also the total opposite of the DIY ethic that skateboarding stands for, it’s always been about just grabbing your board and going to skate without a coach behind you telling you what to do. But then again, we fought for female skateboarding over the last years and nothing happened. Maybe now something is finally going to pick up!

I hope so. And I’m sure that will help this contest and women’s competition in general.

Definitely. Last year we had to cancel the event at short notice because we couldn’t fund it. Everyone that organizes this contest does it voluntarily, including the judges, but we still need cash for the travel, prizes and food. This year, however, we got sponsors and money. From that perspective, the Olympics is already helping!

I have one last question for you: how did you come up with the name Suck My Trucks?

(Laughs) My friends came up with it. At first I didn’t like it too much but now I totally love it. When we started organising the first contest, we were calling companies to ask for sponsorship. They were always really interested when we said we were organizing a new competition in Berlin, and offered to support financially or through sponsorship. But when we specified that it was only for women, they hung up. That happened over and over again. Some people even got aggressive and criticised us for wanting to have separate women’s event: they didn’t understand that we actually needed a safe space for women to experience skateboarding first before we can participate in the bigger picture. After all of this negativity, we started to get really fed up, and thought, you know what, suck my trucks.

Thanks, Anna.