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Raised in Encinitas, California, Ellen picked up a skateboard in 1975 when her sister took her to check out the smooth downhill paradise at La Costa and the skate scene there. Learning to ride on the wide-open streets of the half-completed housing development, Ellen would also meet and become friends with a cross-section of the ’70s skateboard royalty who sessioned there, including Ty Page, the Logans–Brian, Bruce, Brad, and Robin–Dennis Shufeldt and more. After only six months on board, she joined the team at Bahne, placed second at a contest in San Diego before winning her first contest outright in Arizona a few weeks later. Riding the crest of the urethane wheel explosion and resulting industry boom, Ellen used her gymnastics background to become one of the leading female pioneers in freestyle.
At 16, Ellen scored a Who’s Hot in Skateboarder. Her signature tricks consisted of handstand variations few other girls could pull off, along with a meticulous attention to choreography. Ellen took first place in women’s freestyle at the 1976 and ’77 California Free Former World Professional Skateboard Championships at the Long Beach Arena. Having traveled the country performing in front of huge crowds, including skating in front of 60,000 onlookers at a Jethro Tull concert, Ellen would retire from pro skating in 1978 and return to college. Coincidentally, her departure was almost perfectly timed, as skateboarding nearly died over the next few years as the skateparks closed. To this day, Ellen still finds time to enjoy skateboarding.