SUNBURSTS | SKATER Gwen Rose
Gwen Rose is a 43-year-old mother, skater, rock climber, snowboarder, roller skater, hang glider, and renewable energy expert from Oakland, California. Gwen studied at UC Berkeley, majoring in renewable energy.
Badass is the bare minimum to describe her. Gwen embodies positivity, hard work, and purely rad energy, especially through skating. After our several interviews, the only question left, was what hasn’t she done?
Do you mind me asking your age?
And how long have you been skating?
I’ve been skating for four years.
Where are you from?
I was born in Oakland, CA, and grew up in the Bay Area. I went to high school in Newark, college at UC Berkeley, and now I live on a little houseboat in Sausalito. I can’t seem to leave the Bay Area!
What do you do for a living?
I work in solar/renewable energy. I learned about climate change back in high school in the mid-90s and I guess you can say I’ve been motivated by the problem ever since. Most of my career has been focused on solar policy and introducing the world to new technologies that replace fossil fuels (mainly electricity generated from the sun and wind). Today I’m VP of marketing at Sunfolding, which is trying to find better ways to install solar that respects the land without needing to move a lot of earth. The company founder is a woman with a background in robotics and automation and a passion for climate and music. She totally rules. If we had more womxn leaders that paired that level of intelligence with that much heart, we would be in a much better place as a society.
How did you get into skating?
My daughter, Decima! She’s my hero. She got into it when she was 6 years old. I would take her to skateparks and watch her from the sidelines wanting to do it too. I grew up roller skating and snowboarding. Still, at 39 I figured I was too old to step on a skateboard. So glad I got over that! <3
Do you have any other mom friends that skate or are you kind of the lone wolf?
I skate solo more than I’d like to. As a mom with a full-time job, it’s hard to line things up. Luckily showing up alone doesn’t mean I’m skating alone. It’s pretty easy to show up at a skate park and find people to session with.
But there’s really nothing better than the energy that comes from a session of badass ladies going for it — and there are so many awesome womxn skaters all over the Bay Area.
Where do you skate mostly?
Before Covid, I skated Prooflab almost every day — that’s my local ramp.
These days, I love skating bowls. My favorites are in Pacifica, Emeryville, and Newark. Oh, and Potrero in San Francisco. I used to work right around the corner from Potrero so I’d drop my daughter off at school and sneak in a session before going to the office. That park on a sunny day is hard to beat. I felt like I was winning at life.
What has skating brought to your life? Has it changed your perspective? Added new goals or dreams?
It came into my life at a strange time -- I’d just separated from the partner I’d been with since I was 22. I was so young when we started dating and suddenly there I was— almost 40— and trying to figure out who I was and what my life was going to look like.
I stumbled into skateboarding right at that moment and it became so much a part of my reinvention and healing. It led me to new rituals, new friends, access to a totally new source of joy. I can’t even. . . I feel so lucky to have found my way to it.
Skateboarding was part of my reinvention and healing. It led me to new rituals, new friends, a new source of joy. . .
What other sports and activities are you interested in? How do they compare to skating?
I was a jammer for the Oakland Outlaws, a Bay Area roller derby team. . . but only for a season. . . because I got pregnant. So that was short-lived. I tried hang gliding in my 20s but as soon as I got my beginner rating and tried flying over 100 feet, it felt completely wrong. I didn’t want to be 100 feet in the air not feeling right, you know?
The only other activity that I’ve had as much passion for is rock climbing. Parts of it remind me of skating actually -- when you’re hundreds of feet up on a wall and you don’t know what’s ahead of you, staying calm and not panicking is everything. I’ve been climbing off and on for 20 years. I hope I can eke out 20 years on a skateboard!
How do you feel when you are skating? What about skating do you love?
There are so many things to love!
It’s very grounding. Skating brings me into the present moment— a different perspective from my day-to-day ethos... I’m goal-driven, motivated by my work, constantly thinking ahead to what needs to get done next. Skating is a correction to that. It’s a chance to simplify, focus my attention and be fully present.
Also, I’m not a fearless skater. The most epic moments happen when I want to try something I’ve never done before and I want it so badly that the excitement overrides the fear. If I can be confident, aggressive, and relaxed AND it works out... it’s just a magical otherworldly feeling. It often doesn’t work out. Coming at this pretty late, I have decades of hardwiring that I’m fighting against. But that feeling when it all comes together... it’s worth the struggle. I want to find ways of channeling that energy into everything I do.
Any advice for other moms that want to get into it?
One thing that I really appreciate about skating is the cross-generational aspect of it — skaters come in every age, shape, and skill level. Everyone is a potential teacher.
If I have any advice, it’s this: be ok asking for help, learn to enjoy the struggle, and get ready to be humbled.
Video Decima by Gwen Rose
Video of Proof Lab Ladies Night by Lilja Dwyer and Gwen Rose
Beeble Bowl Skaters : (Photo credit Connor Fischer @connorfischer9)
This story was originally published in the earlier months of the new withitgirl website with the help of Macie Oneil and EmJ Harris. Throughout the last 6 months, the withitgirls have been in conversation with Gwen and together we decided to do an update. A special thank you to Gwen Rose for all the new content and stoke she has sent our way!
© 2020-2021 withitgirl. All rights reserved. We appreciate your feedback!