Filipino- Australian Gemma Holland, who surprised everyone at the recent Mt. Keira Downhill Challenge and Newtons Nation when she made it into the finals. Gemma placed 4th at the Mt.Kiera Downhill Challenge and placed 3rd at the Newtons Nation women’s division. Gemma Holland is considered to be the first Filipina to join an IGSA race and was able to be at the podium for her first ever downhill race experience.
Photo by Merrick Wildash
Driven by her curiosity, Gemma started her career in longboarding when one of her friends invited her for a skate session. She was immediately hooked when she tried riding a longboard for the first time, getting her first speed wobbles and fell off earning her first battle scars. Her sheer determination made her to be the first Filipina to race at the Mt. Kiera Challenge and Newton’s Nation. In this article, Gemma shared to us her most amazing experiences during the Mt. Kiera Downhill Challenge and Newton’s Nation race.
Mt. Keira Downhill Challenge experience
With the forecast of rain scheduled for the Mt. Keira Challenge and my very minimal experience of wet whether skating I was not looking forward to racing. I arrived at Sydney ready to begin the road trip with an amazing group of girls, Lea Robbo, Amy London and Dasha Kornienko.
Photo by Lea Robbo
On our entrance into the camp site we let all the boys know that the girls have arrived and ready to kick ass in the wet asphalt pavement. I had no idea that there would be 8 girls competing for No.1 at the Mt Keira Challenge. Talk about raging stoke.
Setting up camp was a bit uncomfortable because it was drissling, the ground was muddy and if you weren’t careful you’d get a love bite by a leach.
The Mt Keira track is fairly long with nice sweeping corners that you don’t need to slide for but in the wet it becomes a very technical track. I’ve had very little experience riding in the rain let alone competing in a world cup event. I thought it was a little hilarious.
The first day of practice runs before qualifies was a bit daunting so all of the girls went in a group run just taking it easy and figuring out the hill. The first few time foot breaking at a decent speed in the rain resulted in me landing on the beautiful pavement. After a few runs of the hill I felt more comfortable with less crashes and with more speed.
Photo by TFY Skate
I didn’t make it into the opens qualifying round but I did manage to place 4th in the women’s division. Super super stoked!!
Battling with my previous knee injury every time I land on it in a crash or consistent movement, it would seize, swell and hurt. But there’s nothing like a little ice and elevation between and after races to make it easier for me.
Some people partied while others chilled and rested ready for a days racing. Waking up bright and early after a very chilly night. Race day arrived and the track was patchy but mostly wet, still a little scared about coming off on my knee but other than that I was super excited. Mondo stretches with the gang was so relaxing before judgment day.
Racing with the girls was so spectacular, with tight racing especially with Ishta Bäcklund. Talk about pushing the limits around the last two corners battling out to make the last position for the finals.
Photo by Cat Sweeny
Before the women’s final there was the women’s consi race. Unfortunately I didn’t make it into the finals but I was that stoked with the super tight run with Ishta that I didn’t care what I came to be riding so close with an international rider was such a blissful feeling.
Ching Ho from Malaysia, in the blue leathers pushed out in front and I followed her catching her draft. Then coming round the left sweeper I caught too much speed and went to give her a little push but I unanticipated how much more speed I had and we clipped wheels and we both went down, and then Maga came and plowed into me. It was pretty epic.
Racing to our boards and it was Ching Ho and I head to head for 4th place. I caught her on the last corner with enough draft to win the consi. Talk about extreme Stoke!
Photo by Alex Wall
So many people just having the time of their lives, telling each other about their runs, how they felt, what lines they took, what happened the night before, and enjoying every ones company. It was so epic!
Photo by Mark Newsham
I even had the privilege to be in an interview with Maga Mcwinnie on triple J radio station, Australia wide to help promote Newtons Nations and the world of downhill longboarding from a woman’s perspective.
Newtons Nation experience
Photo by Lisa Oxley
Right before practice runs and qualifying rounds we were firing up the stoke and ready to conquer the hill and make it to the finish line. Following each other down, taking it easy brought all the confidence we needed to show this hill who’s the boss.
Photo by Lisa Oxley
Girls final battling out in the Push to victory! There were so many tight runs between the girls but none could surpass the speed and precision of Marisa Nuñez going through the dipper with no breaks. Hopefully I will be able to do that next year.
Photo By Lisa Oxley
Over taking Ishta Bäcklund at forest elbow to her sucking in all my draft with a sick pass. I don’t think people realize how stoked I was that I could have so many tight runs, playing around, and as the heats progressed the tighter our racing was.
Unfortunately I crashed in the finals trying to pass Ishta on the inside of forest elbow. As I ran to my board Maga came flying down and she plowed into me like there was no tomorrow. It was pretty painful at first but we managed to finish the race holding my position coming 3rd.
Photo By Franca Baseby
Awsome photo of the Extreme Skates Family and founder Franca Baseby. She is the mother of skateboarding in the Brisbane scene. Best kind of skating family and shop I could ever ask for.
Collage made by Lee Rodgers from Early Skateboards of the podium finish.
Newton’s Nation Women’s division result:
1st Marisa Nuñez
2nd Ishta Bäcklund
3rd Gemma Holland
4th Maga Mcwinnie.
Newtons ended with epic party staring Emphasize and Kurt DJ. Talk about raising the roof of shenanigans hahaha; such a good night, just ask someone who was there.
Photo by Lisa Oxley
Adam Yates, Ishta Bäcklund, Kayla K Hill, Kevin K-Money, Evie Carey, Steven Daddow, Connor Ferguson, Paul Carey, Paul Gwillum, Jamie Gwillum, Me, Evie Carey and Marisa Nuñez
The next morning we all hurdled together for the big trip home and said goodbye to all the international riders. I’m so blessed to have an amazing skate family like this one and many others who aren’t in this photo.
So many good memories and plenty more to come
Getting my gears ready for Mt. Kiera and Newton’s Nation
This whole adventure wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Extreme Skates helping me register for events and gear, TSG supersports for all the protective gear (nosedive kneepads) and the amazing cult gama rays and traction beams, HI-SIDE Leather repairs for the last minute leathers, Mrs Bonehunter for the kick ass skate travel bag and Team Monkey Pig, Jamie and Paul Gwillim and Daddow for all the support and letting me travel with them.
My hat goes off to you guys!
Words by Gemma Holland