By Harley Nefe
During her second time representing Team USA, Ashley Winecoff won second place in Women’s Downhill Racing at the World Skate Games 2022, which was held in Argentina earlier this month on November 12.
Winecoff is from Huntersville, North Carolina, which is just south of Charlotte, but she has called Boone her home for the past nine years since attending Appalachian State University. She graduated in 2018.
“It’s not easy to leave, especially with all the hills,” Winecoff described. “I love the nature here.”
Winecoff’s skateboarding journey began during winter break of her freshman year of college when she picked up an old cruiser board. She spent every day after that practicing and exploring her hometown until she invested in a longboard. When returning to school, she discovered that there were many people who also enjoyed the thrills of the steep terrain.
“I just got a board and started cruising around and meeting people who liked downhill longboarding,” Winecoff said. “It caught my attention, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.”
She started watching videos on YouTube and following groups to learn more about the sport.
“An organization called NCDH (North Carolina Down Hill) posted a race in West Jefferson, and I had never heard about racing where everybody wears leather suits and helmets and all that gear,” Winecoff reflected. “I showed up so I could check it out, and I wasn’t expecting to see 70 dudes in leather suits skating down the mountain, but it was really cool. It was then that I decided – I’m going to do this.”
Winecoff continued, “There’s a huge scene in North Carolina. There’s probably between 100-200 people who live here that downhill skate, and I started showing up to sessions with locals, and they shared gear and advice.”
She learned about events through word of mouth as well as on social media platforms.
“Event organizers want people to show up, so they will advertise and send out invitations,” Winecoff said.
After attending local events, Winecoff began expanding her horizons by going to events around the country. She has been to many states including Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Washington.
To prepare for races, Winecoff does a lot of yoga.
“It’s more of a mindset really than anything else,” she said. “It’s very easy to get into your head when you are skating, and you need to be very calm. It’s almost a meditative thing.”
To qualify to go to the World Skate Games, Winecoff attended qualifying events where she ranked second in the U.S. behind Emily Pross, who has been the champion for many years in a row.
The first time Winecoff represented Team USA was in 2019 when the event was held in Barcelona.
“I ended up in ninth place out of 28 in 2019, and this year there were 32 racers,” Winecoff said.
As far as future races, Winecoff already has plans to attend an event in California in April.
“But my big trip this coming year is going to be going to Europe for the summer because every weekend, there will be a different event in a different country,” Winecoff said. “That has always been a dream.”
However, the most impactful part of the experience for her is the friends she has met over the years.
“The community surrounding it is very unique and definitely a huge part of why I continue to do it,” Winecoff shared. “I have a very solid group of friends that I see pretty much at every event that I go to. One way or another, we will end up traveling together. Traveling with the squad is definitely part of the appeal. It’s a family reunion.”
One friend Winecoff has met through her interest with skateboarding is Ashley Galleher, who owns Zionville Ramp Company, where Winecoff gives skate lessons.
“I’ve been giving skate lessons through her company for a year and a half now, and it has been really awesome,” Winecoff said. “It is really rewarding to teach the kids how to skate and watch them problem solve and gain confidence. I give them a space to just be themselves. I don’t tell them what to do, and I just let them be creative with the board.”
Being able to share her passion for skateboarding with others in the community means a lot to Winecoff.
“I’ve always been a board sport person,” she explained. “I did wakeboarding and skateboarding when I was a kid, and once I started to get good at it, it became super addicting.”
Above all though, Winecoff is thankful for all of the support she has received.
“Ashley Galleher has been such a great support for everything,” Winecoff said. “The support of Ashley and the community, businesses, and people who stoked about what I’m doing – they reach out and are super supportive. It’s really nice to have a solid crew of people who are cheering me on.”