18/04/2012

Conversation in All Around Skate

A couple of days ago, All Around Skate, The European Longboard Site,  posted a conversation we had on Longboarding in Afghanistan, the portrayal of women in boardsports and some other stuff. Thank you Gbemi. Check it out on their side.  Or below. 



 


Hello Sophie where are you from?
Mmmmm originally from a lovely little farm village in the heart of Bavaria, Germany but to be honest I find this question is a bit shit.

Why?
What is the point of knowing where I am from? I really don’t like this question, sorry. I never really know what to answer either. I could tell you I am from Venus, who knows where we are really from?. Having a solid place to call home is something I don’t have. I have been growing up in Bavaria but moved to out and to the UK when I was 16. Been living in Cornwall for 8 years, than in Berlin, then in Kabul, than traveling Europe for 3 three month than Kabul again, than Innsbruck in Austria, than Switzerland than Innsbruck again and now I got one week left to find a new space. Thinking Portugal, Sweden or Israel right now.

When did you start skating?
2006 at the time I was living in Falmouth and the Faltown boys took me under their wings, especially slide legend Mark Short (thank you very very much), who now skates for Rayne. I did an internship with a guy called Charlie Whinney from Sixixis (an award winning bend wood design company at the time) and the boys skated at lunch and Charlie took me to my first skate hill ever.  From there my boards kept on rolling.

Are you also a sliding wizard like Mark?
I kind of used to. Sliding is my passion. Not having so much time to skate at the moment and loosing my skills. Hahaha

What did you do at Sixixis?
Steamed wood, bended wood, sanded wood, drilled wood learned how to make amazing shapes, sculptures etc.

Did your work in Sixixis involve making boards?

No the boys did amazing lampshades and 5 meter long steam bend oak sculptures for public gardens etc. The company dissolved into smaller entities by now and I only did a summer intern thing.

What is keeping you from skating?

Earning money and writing papers for my MA in (watch out a heavy name) Peace, Security, Development and International Conflict Transformation

Haha, that sounds like superhero training
Hahaha hits the nail on the head pretty well! We do stuff with the Austrian Army, a Shaman, Transpersonal Psychology and cool stuff like sleeping at -25 in the mountains etc

How will this help you as a skater/the longboarding community?
Oh that is a good and deep question. I am not sure if I can help anybody else with this but it helps me to transform some conflicts around myself. I used to work in Kabul and while seeing all the shit going on in the development aid world and in the on going (post?)-war reconstruction I figured I have to do something about it.

What did you do in Kabul?

I did this amazing, life changing volunteer placement for six months and later went back to work as HR Manager for a while. I was involved with Skateistan to set up the educational project and I taught English and skateboarding. Check it out, and give a donation: www.skateistan.org

What is Skateistan?
It is the most wonderful project in the world!  It is a platform building bridges between different groups in the heart of the war torn capital Kabul. Due to the prolonged period of conflict one of the greatest underlying challenges in Afghanistan today is the lack of trust between the different Afghan ethno-political groups and also between Afghans and foreigners. Skateistan provides a safe meeting platform for young people of a diversity of backgrounds with the mission to use skateboarding as a tool for empowerment and change.

How is it building bridges?
You know, skateboarding unites people. Sharing the stoke, learning from each other, holding hands, forget about all the trouble around you and just focus on skating.  This had such an impact in Kabul and it felt like skateboarding has the power to build bridges between a diversity of backgrounds. I strongly believe that skateboarding can transform conflicts. On a purely personal level I always feel so much better after even only a couple of pushes on my board. Transforming the energy through skateboarding.

Skateboards: making the world a better place!
Yes. As Stue from Love & Skate says. “Good things come to those who Skate”!!

How did you get involved with this project? 
My boyfriend at the time showed me an article in the Guardian back in 2007 about two Australians teaching skateboarding to kids on the street in Kabul.  My heart was like: “YES this is what I am doing next!” When the skate park was finally built in 2009 I was lucky enough to be involved during the initial start of the park. To get there I sent several emails to Oliver Percovich, the founder and Director of Skateistan (it’s a long time from 2007 to 2009), had a Skype interview, persuaded my family and loved ones that I will be ok, got on a plane and arrived in Kabul.

That’s great, what was it like skating in Kabul?
Dusty and rough. Life changing, inspiring, like flying and full of love.

Is there any longboarding there?
There was not before I came. I arrived with three decks and they stayed there. It is not so easy to find concrete though. The Kabul skate scene is more about bombing hills on short boards.

What was the experience of longboarding there compared to longboarding in Europe?
Well first the headscarf thing, took me awhile to get used to. The tarmac there is like a raindrop in comparison to Switzerland being the ocean. Oh and it is rough man.

You’ve skated in Switzerland?
I wanted to check out the Swiss lifestyle my friends Ramón Königshausen, Jojo Linder and Samy Cantieni keep on advertising so well. So I lived and worked near Zurich for a couple of month last spring and had the honor to ride stunning spots such as Murg etc.

How was last season for you?
Beautiful and Relaxed! With a had a hand full of amazing and unforgettable sessions.

Where?
In Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria and East Germany.

Did you race in previous seasons?
Not that much, I had my first ever-downhill race in Kozakov, the legendary first event in 2010 and took part in some races after. Don’t like the stress so much though. …….Sorry for the wait just had my housemate bringing me some beer. first-class service.

Where’s mine?
hahaha you should ask your housemate, if you ain’t got one get one!

In a post on your blog you highlight some disturbing trends starting to develop in longboarding with regard to the portrayal of the female form. Tell us more about this.
Oh yeah right that rant of mine got a couple of sparks flying, hehe. After an inspirational encounter with Cori Schumacher I posted this question – has porn has hijacked boardsports?
With the increasing amount of longboard sales appeared a notion to portray the female form as objectified and or sexualized. Especially fashion advertisements make use of this representation as lazy-sex-sells short cut marketing. The femininity signifiers seem to particular focus on trivialized, passive objectivity, showing phallic imagery and text, suggesting nostalgia and availability.Check out Cori’s blog for more:
This objectification is frustrating, limiting and as some reports assert – the first step towards violence against women. As sport is such a powerful tool to inspire and also manipulate I find it necessary that the boardsport oligarchy portrait a healthy and inspiring balance between sexuality and action. I think this objectified/ sexualised image of the female form is an issue as it limits and frames identity and it sucks if those images are favored before athletic skills. Rant over!

What can we as a community do to protect the image of women who longboard and prevent this hijack. Or is it too late?
It is not about protecting the image of women who longboard!  Rather it is about expanding the image by breaking up the objectified and narrow ideals of sexuality. I see this all as an ongoing process that keeps on transforming and you and me and everybody can change things. My rant was actually about boardsport in general and I see downhill skate competitions as trailblazers for the future of sporting competitions. When the timing and skills fits – men race women and women race men and that is RAD! I hope it stays that way! Why do we (I ask myself who: the industry? capitalism? the media, you and me?) build those barriers between sexes and so with foster unhealthy competition rather than dynamic unity between male and female? We can both skate and together it’s a lot more fun!
What can be done to portray a  healthy and inspiring balance between sexuality and action?
Avoiding objectified female images as an ideal type of women would be a good start. Taking off into endeavors that do highlight the athletic attributes, creativity and complexity of talented female rides, even better. This can be done for example by supporting brands and projects that positively celebrate active female athletes.  in their marketing campaigns, through sponsorship deals, events etc.

You mean in advertising?
Yes predominantly but also through sponsorship deals, events, in media outlets, on the streets and even at the design state in the industry. When it comes to the industry, allowing time to create would be a great asset, too. Nowadays with the way most companies produce in order to keep up with the fast changing fashion market there is not much space for artist to create unique styles. That is definitely why the boardsport fashion became rather homogenised in my eyes.

Cool! So, what do you ride?
Depends on my mood and what I am up to. Right now I am back in the mini ramp a lot coz of the snow in Innsbruck. When it comes to longboarding I like my special awesome pink-purple graphic Fibertec Flying pan (Merci to Reinke) and my Huegelherzblut Sixxa creation. Zombie Hawgs, white and Hawgs Monsters white pink Crails and Fat Ant bushings. Just recently Chris from Airflow approached me and I will ride the Airflow Bracket and Fast and Furious, coming soon.

What is ”Huegelherzblut Sixxa”?
Huegelherzblut is my friend and partner in crime Fee Buecheler former Longboard label for girls. Sixxa is an Austrian streetwear brand supporting the Longboard Women Camp in Slovenia and also Fee and myself with cloths to wear.

You have a clothing sponsor! Not many longboarders do!

Good things come to those who skate!

Is this a longboard brand for girls?  
Yes Fee has been a longboard addict and vagabond for many years and I met her via a YoutTube video as I was thinking of moving back to Germany and was looking for other longboarders. She used to be active in supporting the local Schwarzwald Scene in Germany with her then label  - Huegelherzblut with trainings, events, and she was one of the founders of Layback Freiburg. Time changes things though and things move on you know.  Now she is the brain behind the Women Longboard Camp in Slovenia.
When did you meet Fee?
We got into contact in 2008 and it took a while till we physically met. I came to visit her in Freiburg with a Skate mission in mind and she and her then partner took super good care of me.

What is the Women Longboard Camp you mentioned earlier?
The Women Longboard Camp is a week long project for female riders to learn new skills on a sick location in Slovenia. Its the same road the KnK freeride is on and just one week before.

How did you get involved with this event?
Fee and I occasionally do workshop sessions and she asked me if I wanted to jump on board as her support bimbo. No I am not her bimbo but she is doing the framework.

What will you be doing to help during the week?
I will try my best to pass on some slide and freeride skills, skate, have fun and I guess I pull some organizational strings in the back.

Aside from the Longboard Camp, what are your plans for the rest of the season?
I will launch off with some freerides and then I am about to start to write my thesis on “ The Art of Living Sideways and the Aesthetics of Transratonal Peaces”. This will occupy me for a bit most likely in Sweden where I can earn some money too.  Beside that I will skate as much as possible.
Since you started skating in 2006 till now, how has the female longboard scene changed?
A lot has changed over the last seven years. It got so much bigger of course, more aerodynamic faster and sexier.  The scene lost a bit the family intimacy as it grew. I find this is sad in one way and also super exciting on the other hand coz the growth opens so many possibilities to evolve and develop. More jobs, better sponsorship deals, bigger events, new styles… A bigger family. There also seems to emerge a gender split somehow (separate crews, media outlets etc) and I am not so happy about this.

Haha yeah I don’t believe that you are not happy with a split especially as you’re working on the Longboard Women Camp.
Hehe yeah it is kind of a contradiction – teaching at a women only camp and advocating a fuck ‘the gender’ debate. No but what I am saying is that separatism has its limits. Women only events are fantastic to bring new female riders into the longboarding community. However, the emerging dichotomy between masculinity and femininity sucks. Also I don’t think it helps the community in the long run to categorize gender images.

You don’t think that there should be girls only crews?
I am not so keen on this idea of only girls and only boys because it suggests a barrier. I love riding and hanging out with guys. Yet at the same time I meet so many girls who are uncomfortable in the masculine dominated longboard environment. Organizing a female only event is a good start to integrate more female riders. However I think women only endeavors actually let the dominant big brother structures avoid social responsibility when it comes to accommodate and represent females. I mean there is a reason why the LGC movement went so viral.

Why did you agree to teach at a female only event?
Because I want to support and give space to more female riders to be part of this amazing longboard world and figured this camp is a great opportunity to do this. The camp is located on a sick road and the whole crew organizing the event is a creative bunch of talented people so I figured it would be a fun thing to do and a good time to skate.

One last question – choose 3 numbers between 1-23
7 11 13

What is your favorite cheese ?
Don’t have a favorite cheese

What’s your favorite sandwich filling ?
Not a fan of sandwiches but would go for a Leberkäs Semmel (Bavarian delicates) or no wait, hot bacon and maple syrup. (BEST ANSWER EVER)

Do you have a pet ?
No but skateboards, they are well easier to handle

Thank you for your time!
You’re welcome, gosh that was long! it’s time to go out and play NOW!

Do you have any thank yous? 
I like to thank all the RAD people I meet over my longboarding time and like to share,  www.womenlongboardcamp.com and
www.gravityispink.com
and
www.sixxa.com

www.sophiefriedel.blogspot.com

www.roll-laden.tv
and now of course http://www.airflow-skateboards.com too.


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