XX Factor

Groms

    Photo: Jeff Lipsky

LYN-Z ADAMS HAWKINS 14
Skateboarder
Encinitas, California

WHY SHE RULES: The first time Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins dropped into a vert ramp, she was a skinny ten-year-old who could barely turn a skateboard. The next day, she begged her mom to let her skip soccer practice so she could charge back down the 13-foot plywood walls. That was four years ago. Now she's a homeschooled skater who spends her days riding alongside sport legends Tony Hawk and Bucky Lasek at the most famous skate park in America, the Encinitas Y, and traveling to pro skate-offs around the world. Last summer, Hawkins blasted into the glitziest action-sports testing ground: ESPN's Summer X Games, in Los Angeles. She took home silver in the skate-park contest and bronze in the vert ramp, competing against an undefeated Cara-Beth Burnside, 34, who has been skating longer than Hawkins has been alive. "I wanted to get gold," says Hawkins, "but then I realized that if I have learned anything through skateboarding it's that you can't win everything right away. Sometimes it takes time to learn a new trick—like maybe a few days." SAYS WHO: "Lyn-Z has fire in her eyes," says 25-year-old professional skateboarder Jen O'Brien, who has been a mentor to Hawkins since they met in 2000. "That determination and skill are part of what she has, but she's also skating with the best in the world on a daily basis, so her standards are very high." WHY HOOKY RULES: "People ask me if I am missing out by not going to school," says Hawkins. "Hello?! I travel the world and meet tons of people. That's pretty cool, I think." FORWARD SPIN: Winter cross-training events, like the Tahoe amateur snowboard series and local San Diego surf contests, are high on Hawkins's to-do list. She'll be back on four wheels for the Slam City Jam, in Whistler, British Columbia, in May. —SHANTI SOSIENSKI

CHELSEA GEORGESON 20
Shortboard Surfer
Avalon, New South Wales, Australia

WHY SHE RULES: Chelsea Georgeson may be the youngest woman ever to qualify for the Association of Surfing Professionals' World Championship Tour (she was 18 when she joined the WCT last year), but the Australian powerhouse is proving that she's no grommet. After a strong performance last May at the Billabong Pro Teahupo, in Tahiti, Georgeson was ranked sixth on the WCT; by July she'd nailed a surprise victory at the U.S. Surfing Open, in Huntington Beach, California, beating seasoned pros Rochelle Ballard and Pauline Menczer by a wide margin. We should have seen it coming: The 2001 junior world champion grew up riding barrels with her older brothers on Australia's east coast—which may explain her laid-back attitude. "It's not like I'm training every day," she says. "I just go surfing." SAYS WHO: "She has a huge future," says four-time world champ Lisa Andersen. "She stands out for her smooth style and power. When you mix the two, it's a lethal weapon." READY FOR PRIME TIME: Reality-TV fans may recognize Georgeson from her role on Boarding House: North Shore, the WB's 2003 series that followed competitors in Hawaii's Triple Crown as they surfed and club-hopped in Honolulu. FORWARD SPIN: Georgeson hopes to nab a WCT win next year—all the sweeter if it happens on her home surf. —FLORENCE WILLIAMS

GRETCHEN BLEILER 22
Halfpipe Queen
Aspen, Colorado

WHY SHE RULES: Gretchen Bleiler has dreamed of snowboarding in the Olympics ever since she dropped into her first halfpipe at age 15. But losing her 2002 berth in a last-minute triple tiebreaker against one of her closest friends, Tricia Byrnes, may have been the best thing that could have happened. "Not making the team was hard," Bleiler recalls, "but it really helped me see how badly I wanted it." She spent the rest of the season nailing new tricks, like the crippler 720, a dicey inverted rotation that left her with a rash of bruises and a black eye. By 2003, she was landing cripplers left and right in competition and dominating the halfpipe, taking first place at the American Snowboard Tour, the Vans Triple Crown, the U.S. Grand Prix, the Winter X Games, the U.S. Open of Snowboarding, and three other international contests—an eight-win streak that no snowboarder has matched. SAYS WHO: "Gretchen doesn't make mistakes in competitions," says U.S. Snowboard Team halfpipe coach Bud Keene. "She has confidence and is very coolheaded. That's always been the case, but it's really showing now." WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE: Given the fact that only a small cadre of women compete on the world halfpipe circuit—including 17-year-old prodigy Hannah Teter—there's a fine line between camaraderie and rivalry. "Some of my best friends are my biggest competitors," says Bleiler, "but we try to encourage each other, learn from each other, and teach each other." FORWARD SPIN: Bleiler plans to spend the first half of 2004 riding the world's deepest powder for an all-girls snowboard video by Drop Stitch Productions, but come March she'll be defending her gold medal at the U.S. Open, in Stratton, Vermont. Beyond that, she's saving her legs for the 2006 Winter Games, in Turin, Italy. —SHANTI SOSIENSKI

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