Desiree Von Essen Harrington - 2019 Skateboarding Hall of Fame Inductee

Desiree Von Essen Harrington – 2019

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One of the most prominent female skateboarders of the mid-1970s, Desiree Von Essen was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York in 1958. After moving to Ventura, California in 1968, she started skating on a Black Knight down a big driveway with her brother. In 1974, Desiree started getting product flowed from The Skateboard Handbook, and Sims. One day, the manager where she was employed at McDonalds handed over her last paycheck, congratulating her for no longer having to work for a living. It seems a plastic molding company called R.A.C.O. had lured her away from Sims by paying her $250.00 per month, turning her pro in the process. “I thought I won the lottery,” she said. After becoming good friends with Robin Alaway and Gary Kocot on R.A.C.O., she then moved over to California Free Former. All told, Desiree enjoyed life as a sponsored pro for a grand total of two years, from 1974 to 1976.

Desiree’s first love was slalom; she learned to traverse a whole block by pumping alone, without pushing. She also became adept at freestyle and enjoyed cruising in big, open park bowls and her favorite spot, the La Brea spillway. As far as favorite tricks go, Desiree perfected the endover to such a degree that she could effortlessly pull off 300 in rapid-fire succession. She also enjoyed the kickflip and walk the dog, which she once threw in at lightening speed during a 30 mph downhill run at Independence Pass (12,095 ft. elevation) in Aspen, Colorado during a full moon ride with a bunch of her crazy downhill skier buddies. 

After a scoring a Who’s Hot in the June 1976 issue of Skateboarder, which accurately described her skating as chock-full of “wheelies, 360s and fast and flawless endovers,” Desiree appeared in the movie Go For It and perhaps most prestigious of all, a Perry Como TV special. Naturally competitive, Desiree took top honors in slalom at the California Free Former 1976 World Championships, as well as first place in freestyle at Ventura and Long Beach, the latter of which also included a first place in slalom. In 1978, Desiree took her love of turns to the mountains of Snowmass Village, Colorado, working seven days a week as a ski instructor. For the past two decades, she has been busy raising her skier / snowboarder boys, Cooper (24) and Bryce (23), with her husband, Mark, and now plans to mountain bike, ski and snowboard even more after they move to Bend, Oregon in summer 2019.