Introducing Candy Dungan is quite the challenge, and I mean that in the best possible way. She dominates a world of oxymorons, where risks are taken intentionally not recklessly, and where she learns some of the easiest life lessons the hardest way possible. A prime example: she learned to always wear a helmet after cracking her skull at a skatepark and ended up losing her sense of smell. Did that stop her from getting back on the board? Absolutely not.
Candy is a kickass who never takes “no” for an answer, and as a result, she’s right where she needs to be: preparing for the North American leg of the International Downhill Federation World Tour in June of 2016, the World Cup of downhill longboarding. One of her main goals for her longboarding career? To fill the very noticeable void in extreme sports media for female downhill longboarders. Not by appealing to mainstream media producers or outlets, but by creating and sharing her own media made as a part of the badass skate group, Girls Gone Fast, a team of all-female downhill longboarders who tour the country together to compete, support each other, and spread the message that “anything boys can do, girls can do better.”
- Age: 24
- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Education: Bachelors in Public Relations from Kent State University
- Field of Interest: Public Relations, Marketing, Downhill Longboarding, Media
- What Is Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? My determination – I wouldn’t be where I am today if I weren’t as hard-headed and stubborn as I am.
- What Inspired You Today? Today I was inspired by my friends. We were downhill skateboarding and they helped me dial in a drift to take the best line. It wasn’t as much dialing in the trick that inspired me, as it was their confidence in my ability to do it. Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends!
- What Are You Listening To On Repeat? Badass songs with female leads – I’m looking for songs to use for video parts!
- What Are You Reading That You Can’t Put Down? Concrete Wave Magazine! I’m working with the publication to create a section that is by women for women, so I happen to have my hands on quite a few issues and I’m enjoying exploring them.
- What Are You Currently Involved In That You’re Really Excited About? Growing the female downhill skateboard scene! This includes hundreds of moving parts and will take years, but we are headed in the right direction. It’s important to me that women feel they have the freedom and acceptance to follow their passions and accomplish their goals. I may not be able to change the world, but I can make a ripple in my industry that will hopefully hit other women’s ripples – and now we have a world of waves!
Questions + Answers
You’re currently leading an amazing group of female skateboarders around the country in the group Girls Gone Fast. How did you get started with longboarding, and when did you realize there was a need for women in the community to connect and collaborate?
I started longboarding summer of 2012, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I noticed the need for more female skate media. I started getting really into downhill-specific longboarding and began skating with, and learning from, some really fast guys. These guys taught me so much, but I craved for female skate media so I could see how other women were skating – especially how they were cornering. Women’s center-of-mass is in their hips, whereas guys carry their mass in their shoulders and upper body. I was interested in whether or not this affected how women vs. men took a corner.
I struggled to find more than a few videos, and it wasn’t until I started traveling and going to events that I could really see other women skate. What I learned, is that women are still figuring it out. Do we learn to skate like the guys? Or, do we figure out how to skate for our bodies? Is there really a difference? We don’t know yet, and we still have a long way to go. However, through connecting and collaborating, we will get there much sooner.
Traveling across the country with your teammates, you all spend a lot of valuable time together. What is your favorite aspect of this friendship, even sisterhood, of support?
Acceptance and love. No matter how tough things get, I always feel better when I get a hug from one of my Girls Gone Fast sisters. I don’t know for certain what it is about our relationships that can be so soothing, but it’s like we are all in it together and we don’t need to explain ourselves. The love and support is just there – unconditionally.
It’s no secret that skateboarding and snowboarding, like so many sports, are male-dominated. Do you think it’s significant to be a woman in a predominately male sport? Or is the impact on your experience minimal?
Male privilege exists, in it’s own form, in these sports. As a women, every time you show up to skate a road with new guys you’re concerned with how they’re going to greet you. Will they welcome you with open arms? Are they going to ask that you drop first or last so that they don’t have to skate next to you? Are they going to give you constructive pointers? Or, are they going to laugh at you when you mess up? If you can’t keep up, will that reflect badly on all female longboarders? If you beat them to the bottom of the hill, will they start name-calling you behind your back?
The unfortunate reality is it’s about half and half. There are some awesome, inclusive, male skaters out there that want to see women succeed and will help you the whole way. Then, there are some male skaters that don’t think women belong in downhill skateboarding, and they don’t mind getting nasty to prove their point. How much this affects you depends on the female skater – but, I will say that it can be hard to dismiss these concerns sometimes.
We’d love to be in your shoes. Could you describe how it feels to fly 40 mph downhill on a longboard?
Exhilarating and empowering. There’s so much noise in this world. So many things that we’re told are important – but are they really? How important is a title when you can touch a stampeding elk at 40 mph?
There’s something so raw about pushing your boundaries and experiencing life from a new perspective that even though you’re constantly on the edge of death, you’re more alive than you’ve ever been. I skate because it makes me feel free of societal expectations, while more in-tune and appreciative with the life that is around me.
You’re not like a regular mom, you’re a cool mom! Pardon the shameless Mean Girls reference. If you could give only one piece of advice on risk-taking to your daughter, Mona (age 5), what would you say?
I’d advise her to take risks, safely. This may seem like an oxymoron, but the idea is to choose your risks wisely. You want to drop that hill but you’re not 100% that you can make the blind corner? Go ahead! Drop it! But, put a spotter on that corner so that if there’s a car coming they can let you know and you can stop.
The same thing goes for career goals or relationships – take a risk, just have your safety net ready in case all else fails. And, I want her to know that she can always come to me when looking for that safety net. I will gladly catch her every time she falls, and I hope that she takes risks throughout her life – just safely, of course.
You have an impressively beautiful collection of tattoos. What about body art is so compelling to you?
Awe, thank you! 🙂 My pieces all represent different things. Some are there to remind me of accomplishments, while others remind of my downfalls. Some I got on a whim, and others I spent years thinking about. Whatever the piece, I got it to express myself. Same reason I put stickers on my notebooks and hang posters on the wall – it brings the inner me out, and I feel more at home in my shell.
This is me: good ink, bad ink, scars, blemishes, stretch marks, whatever it is. It’s me, and it’s beautiful, and I’m happy with who I am.
You longboard, you’ve got gorgeous tats, you’re launching a new media platform – none of those are “safe” choices, but it’s exactly that unconventional approach to life that makes you such an inspiration. Do you see yourself as a risk-taker? Where do you find the drive to take these leaps?
Oh, I’m definitely a risk-taker! I followed the typical route, went to school, got a degree, an office job, and I hated it. I worked so hard for something just to find out that it wasn’t for me. I’m unconventional, and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong – I’m really happy I got a degree. It’s my safety net, and it’s why I can pursue so many other things.
Worst case scenario, I get myself another Monday to Friday 9-5. I’ll be right back where I started, except I’ll be a world of experiences richer.