GIZMO: An Homage to Elissa Steamer
In 1996, Elissa Steamer pushed her way into skateboarding’s spotlight with a stand-out style that transcended gender and commanded respect. Through video and grassroots touring, Elissa, whose nickname “GIZMO” her father had given her, inspired generations of skateboarders for years to come.
Growing up in Florida in the 1980s, a young Elissa Steamer was known around her neighbourhood skateparks simply as “the girl who skated.” More than three decades later, Steamer has become a household name in skateboarding after being recognized as one of the first women to earn pro status.
Proof that progression in skateboarding is more than just tricks, Nike SB have released their first ever all-women’s skate video, GIZMO, an homage to Elissa and a testament of what’s to come for women who skate. Elissa features in the video alongside an array of other brilliant skaters from Nike’s roster – Lacey Baker, Leticia Bufoni, Hayley Wilson, Sarah Meurle, Josie Millard, Nicole Hause, Aori Nishimura, and Rayssa Leal. Directed by Jason Hernandez with assistance from Tyler Smolinski and taking a year to produce, GIZMO is dedicated to those breaking open new lanes.
Watch the full video above – it’s got all the hallmarks of a skate video, drenched in 90s nostalgia, with some beautiful storytelling and intimate moments interspersed throughout.
The influence from skaters like Steamer transcends to other team riders who use their success to spark conversation around broader issues in sport culture, both inside and outside of competition. For example, the addition of women’s skateboarding to next year’s summer event in Tokyo brings U.S.A. riders Lacey Baker and Nicole Hause to compete on a new stage alongside their male counterparts. In addition, Baker's used her renowned technical skating as a platform to champion the female and LGBTQIA community. In 2017, Baker’s insights on what she preferred in a skate silhouette – she’d formerly modify men’s skate shoes to improve fit through techniques like packing the shoe with frozen plastic bags – led to the Women’s Nike SB Bruin High, the first Nike skate shoe designed for women.
Through the short film, we also discovered that Nike SB is an official partner of Skate Like A Girl, a nonprofit organisation that seeks to build a more inclusive skate community through youth camps, after-school programs, and skate nights at parks in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. The support culminates in the annual Wheels of Fortune event in Seattle, which is in its tenth year and is the longest-running organized women’s skate showcase featuring female-identified, trans and gender non-conforming riders from around the world.