Betty Esperanza is the Partnerships Manager at Tribu Expérientiel, the group that hosts the Jackalope Block Party.
“If you look at the skaters here in Kamloops, there’s a lot of talent, you can see they need competitions like this so they can push themselves and get better,” Esperanza said.
“It’s a community in itself and it’s so important that they hang out together and learn from each other.”
The winners of the men’s and women’s competitions won a trip to Montreal for the Jackalope Fest in August, where they will compete against the other finalists from across Canada.
Hemenway was eyeing that prize on Saturday. She was in the park all day practicing her tricks to impress the judges.
“I’d love to hang out with all these lovely people working on the event,” she said. “They are all super nice and [I’d] Just take the opportunity to explain something or just make everyone feel welcome and happy.”
Hemenway spends her Monday evenings advising women and girls on skateboarding. She started Girls Skate Kamloops with her two friends Lily Hawley and Myah Lawrence three years ago when she realized there weren’t many girls at the skate park.
“The youngest girl that came out was three and our oldest girl was 47,” Hemenway said. “It’s great… just having the support system, having all the other girls encouraging you. Especially when you see that there are more girls than boys here on most Mondays, it’s super exciting.”
The third place winner even thanked Hemenway in her acceptance speech, saying Hemenway taught her everything she knew.
One of the rowdiest moments of the night came when Hemenway landed a varial kickflip on the first try in the “Tricks” contest. The crowd erupted and Hemenway’s face was in disbelief.
Hemenway’s hard work paid off when the podium was announced around 9pm on Saturday. She was announced as the first place winner and will travel to Montreal in August to test her skills against the top Canadian skaters.