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Sk8er Grrrl

This year, female skateboarders don't need a league of their own.

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The boys still rule, admits Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins, a 14-year-old skateboarder from San Diego who's participating at the sixth annual Gravity Games, which begin Wednesday. But they'd better watch their backs. "Those guys are pretty good," she says. "But I want to push skateboarding to another level."

This year marks the inaugural appearance of the Women's Skateboarding Competition at the games, which are now in their third year in Cleveland (they take place over five days at North Coast Harbor). Events include skateboard street, skateboard vert, bike vert, bike dirt, and freestyle motocross. Practices, preliminaries, and final competitions fill the days (which culminate in live music performances by the Donnas, Sum 41, Terror Squad, and others).

Hawkins, a fan of the games and a three-year vet on the competitive circuit, got hooked early. "When I was one and a half, my parents got my brother and I skateboards for Christmas," she explains. "So I've been around it for so long. But I really didn't start skating till I was six years old, when my brother got me a membership to a local skate park. When I was 10, I started going to the skate park once a week instead of once a month and started to do more and more stuff [on the board]."

Hawkins -- who says she prefers vert skating to the street competitions that she'll be participating in at the Gravity Games -- snagged silver and bronze medals at last year's X Games against fellow girl skaters, placed first at a couple of local contests that included guys, and took second place at a pair of girls-only Vans Triple Crown competitions in 2003.

"I really like competing," she says. "Some people don't like it, but it makes me want to skate harder and learn new tricks. I just think to myself, 'I want to make this trick, because I'm going to win this. It's my turn. '"

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