Last year we added; Reader's Choice Female, allowing you the reader to choose your favorite lady or girl ripper from the past twelve months. As we preached in our November 2016 issue, women's skateboarding is long past due it's rightful place alongside the boys and men. This year's nominees came in the form of Lacey Baker, our Nov. 2016 cover girl Lizzie Armanto, Samarria Brevard, Amelia Brodka, Leticia Bufoni, Alexis Sablone, Vanessa Torres, and Nora. As the votes were tallied—Nora came out on top.
Hailing form a small town in the Northeast, outside Boston, Nora had an amazing year to say the least. Since moving out to California in 2012 to pursue her dreams, she has gone from working a nine-to-five at PacSun in the mall, to working at the Welcome warehouse for three years and skating in her free time, to getting fully on adidas in 2016 and finally having the luxury to quit working side jobs and solely focus on her skateboarding. She spoke about her incredible journey through an 8-page interview in our Nov. 2016 issue. And while it came out a couple of weeks into the new year, technically not counting towards this award, I'd be hard pressed to think her full part in the new Welcome video Fetish didn't have some impact on people casting votes.
On the contest front, she started the year hot with a 2nd place finish at the Vans Combi Pool Classic in January and would again take silver at the next Combi Pool event in May. In June, she took 7th at the X-Games Women's Park Finals, followed by a 5th place finish in June at the Huntington Beach Vans Pro Skatepark Series Finals, before taking 7th place at the same event in Malmo, Sweden in August. She then closed out the year with a 7th place finish at the Exposure 2016 Pro Bowl while taking 9th in Pro Street this past November. Along with Alena Smith, Nora also became the first woman to join the Tactics skate team in August.
Beyond ripping on all terrains, the truth is that Nora is just a super friendly down-to-earth person. Her quote from her interview, "I don't give a shit how good you are unless you're a good person" pretty much sums up why she's 2016's people's champ. She talks the talk and walks the walk. Nora is one of the few girls flipping her board on vert, with textbook kickflip Indy's a la Danny Way in Virtual Reality. But even there she draws distinctions—prizing proper form over progression for progression's sake; "I'm not trying to do superman Christ airs… I really just want to do them like Ronnie Sandoval… like kickflip into an Indy air."
Meanwhile, as anyone who has spent time out skating or on tour with Nora will attest to—Nora just has a great personality that people always want to be around. She's a genuine skateboarder through and through. In this day of global statistics, Instagram rankings, and coverage meters, the truth is that we still pick (and vote) for the people that we most relate to. Nora's entire story—from her unlikely start to her Cinderella finish—is as relatable to any skateboarder, be they male or female, as exists. Now go buy a copy of Fetish. —Mackenzie Eisenhour