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Skateboarding News

Monday, October 10, 2011


Abby Zsarnay interview with isTia.tv

Abby Zsarnay: 130 contests and counting. Photo Chris Zsarnay.
I am always amazed when I see those skater girls I am interviewing for this isTia special: they are all relentless. Skate till you die! And if they stop skating, they have one zillion things to do. Take Abby Zsarnay, not only she is constantly skating to attain a worldwide level, but she has time to teach skateboarding to kids, bead necklaces, make braided bracelets, wallets and rings and make Duct Tape wallets, check her very own website and she’s spending the rest of her spare time in studying and even giving math tutoring to her classmates. She’s gonna go to College to major in mathematics and when graduating she will explore and translate the pool curbs, lines and tricks into complex equation so the next generation of robots can skate the combi for us (naw, just joking on this)… During the interview, we never talk about watching TV, going to the mall or having some rest. Most of the others skate girls are like that… And that’s what I like about them. BTW, didn’t they learn at school that one day has only 24 hours? This applies to them too, not just to us mortals…
Like the other girls on this special, she had her part of injuries and her part of trophies at multiple contests (130 contest WTF?). Never mind that contests killed Street Skateboarding (as Transworld Skateboarding rightly put it in the last issue), she is not a street skater anyway, so that killing part does not apply to her…

Interview Abby "Zace" Zsarnay

Istia.tv: Age or DOB? Abby Zsarnay: I am 17 years old. Born June 5th, 1994.
How were you introduced to skateboarding and what got you started? Abby Zsarnay: Starting when I was 2 years old, I had a babysitter that had three boys still living at home. They were all older than me and they all participated in action sports from football to skateboarding to anything else you can think of. After not too long, they were like my brothers and began to treat me like a little sister. The youngest of the boys, TJ, would dress me up in his football gear and push me down a homemade ramp on a skateboard. The next thing I knew, I was asking my parents to go to a skate camp at the local skatepark at the age of 7. After that, I never stopped.
The first time I tried to drop, I would either fall backwards or fall sideways and hurt
my ankle. Photo Chris Zsarnay.
I started skating when I was 7 years old. It has been 10 years of non-stop skating.

Istia.tv: Were there any early influences on your skating? Abby Zsarnay: I would mostly just skate with the guys at the local skateparks. I was usually the only girl skating so I learned a lot by hanging out with the best skaters each session at the park. Later on after I started competing in CASL (California Amateur Skateboard League) I took some lessons from Frank Hirata (a Pro skater) and loved to hang out with Amelia Brodka at Woodward Skate Camps during the summer.

Istia.tv: When was the first time you dropped (in a bowl…)? Abby Zsarnay: I will never forget the day that I spent trying to drop in for the first time. My dad spent hours trying to get me to land a “drop in” but every time I would drop in, I would either fall backwards or fall sideways and hurt my ankle. My dad finally sat down to do some computer work and the next thing he knew, I had dropped in and landed it. I was 7 or 8 years old at that time. I wasn’t scared of dropping in except that I kept twisting my ankle when I fell off sideways.

Istia.tv: Other skaters have their own backyard bowls (Pedro Barros, Keith Baldassare, Bucky Lasek, Sky Siljeg). Do you have some kind of backyard ramp in your backyard? Abby Zsarnay: I do not have a backyard pool, but Ojai just built a new skate park and it has an amazing bowl that is just a 15 minute drive from my house. That has become my backyard pool over the past year. My Dad and I built a set of 2 mini ramps that were 4ft high and 8ft wide and had them installed in his Photo Studio in Ventura. We sort of built them for “rainy days” but living in So. Cal there are not many rainy days so most of my practice sessions are in concrete bowls at local skate parks.

I’m very lucky to have sponsors that supply me with products, but am even
more lucky to have parents that sponsor me with support and money to skate.
Photo Chris Zsarnay
Istia.tv: How are your parents involved with skateboarding? Are there supportive? Abby Zsarnay: My parents were not involved in skateboarding to begin with but they are now very involved due to all of my skating contests that they take me to. They have always been very supportive of me and my skating, even from the very beginning. Without their support I would not have progressed like I have and would have never been able to compete in over 120 competitions to this date. My Dad spends a lot of time with me on daily practice sessions hanging out at the parks and giving me encouragement. And my Mom along with my Dad are always at all of my competitions.

Istia.tv: What are your father & mother doing? Abby Zsarnay: My dad is a professional photographer and owns a commercial photo studio in Ventura, Ca. He documents all of my skating events. He is always at all of my contests with a camera up in the front lines making sure he gets all the best shots. My Mom is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Private Practice and also has her business in Ventura, Ca

Istia.tv: How are they involved with skateboarding? Abby Zsarnay: My parents do not skateboard but my Dad is with me at all my practice sessions. I have actually given my Mom skateboard lessons for the past 2 years when we skate at the Mighty Mamma Skate O’Rama events on Mother’s Day. She is awesome for coming out and trying to skate.

Istia.tv: How good are you at school? Abby Zsarnay: I have always been a good student in school. I am a senior in high school now and I am applying to colleges to major in math. Math is my favorite subject and I like it so much that I even tutor my classmates who struggle with it. My parents always said that for me to skate I had to have good grades in school. So fortunately I have done both!!

Istia.tv: Let’s talk about your involvement in competitive skateboarding. Are contests important for you? Abby Zsarnay: Contests are fun for me. They have taught me how to handle pressure and how to have fun at the same time. Competing makes me a better skater because the level of skating at each event is so intense that I always want to do better at the next competition.

Having a great time at Lincoln City, Oregon, getting ready for the 2010
WCS Oregon Trifecta. Photo Chris Zsarnay.
Istia.tv: How many contests have been in? Abby Zsarnay: Well, at last count it was over 130. My first competition was in 2006 when I was 11 years old at my local skatepark. When I was in CASL, I was competing at least once a month and sometimes multiple comps during each month. Now that I have moved on to Pro and Pro/Am events, the amount of competitions has decreased some.

Istia.tv: Do you like contests? Abby Zsarnay: Contests are my favorite part about skating. When I compete, I improve. Before I started competing, I was not progressing very rapidly if at all. As soon as I started competing regularly, when I was 12 years old, I had something to push me to improve at a constant rate.

Istia.tv: Is it important to go to contests? Abby Zsarnay: I think it is important to compete but a lot of people don’t like to compete and that is ok too.

Istia.tv: Your best contests ever? Abby Zsarnay: Hmm…..That’s hard. I have had several that really stand out as my best. In 2009 I won the National Finals for the Concrete Rodeo Skate Park Series in So. Jordan, Utah. Also that same year I was the Top Am in the S3 Supergirl at Woodward West and was the only Am at the S3 Supergirl Pro Event and placed 10th out of 20 some pros. In Sept. of 2009 I placed first in the Wicked Wahine Pro/Am at the Burger Bowl and in August of 2011 I placed 3rd in the World Cup BiFecta at Pier Park, Oregon.

Istia.tv: Your worst contests ever? – Abby Zsarnay: Probably my first contest when I was 11. I had no idea what to expect and it was a single elimination event. That means that you got paired up with another skater and you did one run together in the park and they chose one person to go on to the next level. I got paired up against the best boy skater in my age bracket so I was eliminated in the first round. He ended up winning first place.

Istia.tv: Best contest memory. Abby Zsarnay: Winning the S3 Supergirl Am. It was so much fun! It was at Woodward West during Tap week at camp. My whole cabin of girls, all gymnasts, were cheering for me on the sidelines. They came out all decorated in body paint with “Abby” painted on them and holding up signs with my name and cheering loudly!! It was a blast. It was also the first time I was interviewed by and on FUEL TV.

Catching a Kickflip Indy out of the bowl. Photo Chris Zsarnay
Istia.tv: Worst contest memory? Abby Zsarnay: Oregon Trifecta World Cup in 2010. I blew out my knee and tore my ACL practicing for the 3rd Event at Tigard, OR.

Istia.tv: Tell us about the Pro-Tec …When was the 1st time you were invited? Abby Zsarnay: I was invited last year, 2010 but was unable to skate because I had just had my ACL replaced in my right knee. I went to the contest to support the other girls and to rep for my sponsors. This year will be my first time skating in the Girls Combi Classic. I am on the invited Pro list.

Istia.tv: When was your first contest abroad? Abby Zsarnay: I have never skated outside of the U.S. yet.

Istia.tv: How many contests have you done abroad? Zero

Istia.tv: What are the more important contests of the circuit? Abby Zsarnay: All of the World Cup events, Girls Combi Classic, and hopefully in the near future X Games and Dew Tour.

Istia.tv: Do you go to every contest of the WCS? Abby Zsarnay: I try to go to all of the events I can, especially if they are in the U.S. and have a Girls Division.

Istia.tv: Do you surf? Snowboard? Other sports? Abby Zsarnay: I do surf and snowboard as well, but I have not done either of them in a while since I have been so busy with skating during the past few years.

Istia.tv: Favorite Music? Abby Zsarnay: I will listen to almost anything except for Country.

Istia.tv: Favorite band? Abby Zsarnay: I like all Classic Rock.

Istia.tv: What’s sick: Abby Zsarnay: Finally landing a new trick after practicing and failing so many times.
Sequence: Kick Flip Indy at Fillmore. Photo Chris Zsarnay.


"You don't have be a tomboy to be a girl skater"? Abby Zsarnay:
"No way. You just have to have a high pain tolerance."
Photo Chris Zsarnay
Istia.tv: What’s not sick: Abby Zsarnay: Being injured to the point that I can not skate.

Istia.tv: Metal or Pool? Abby Zsarnay: Pool copping all the way.

Istia.tv: Loose or tight trucks? Abby Zsarnay: Never too loose, never too tight.

Istia.tv: Wheels size? Durometer? Abby Zsarnay: 56mm

Istia.tv: Sponsors: Abby Zsarnay: Cheapsk8r.com, Skatera Skatewear, GRO (Girls Riders Organization), ABEC 11 wheels, Steezie Beanies, Ojai Board Shop, Össur/CTI knee braces, Bamboo Sk8, Globe shoes. All of my Sponsors are AWESOME!! They are all very supportive and are “No Pressure” sponsors. They have all stuck with me even when I was out for my knee surgery. All of my Sponsors have come from them seeing me skate. Most have approached me to be a part of their organization. I typically do not go after Sponsors.

Istia.tv: Do you feel you have fewer sponsors because you are a girl? Do you feel that if you were a boy, you would have more sponsors? Abby Zsarnay: I don’t think that is the case at all. I feel I have the right amount of sponsors. I’m very lucky to have sponsors that supply me with products, but am even more lucky to have parents that sponsor me with support and money to skate. My goal is to someday have a “money” sponsor besides my parents. :)

Every girls' dream: to have a Dad that knows how to take awesome pictures...
Photo Chris Zsarnay
Istia.tv: Besides skateboarding, what do you like to do in your spare time? Abby Zsarnay: I like to study for school, play with my pets, play RockBand with my Dad, play computer games with my Mom, bead necklaces, make braided bracelets and rings and make Duct Tape wallets.

Istia.tv: Who are your favorite old school skaters? Abby Zsarnay: Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, Mark Partain & Ty Olson

Istia.tv: What’s your favorite trick? Abby Zsarnay: Front Side Airs, Smith & Feeble Grinds, and Blunt Fakies

Istia.tv: What trick are you trying/ training to do? Abby Zsarnay: That information is classified :)

Istia.tv: New tricks you just learned? Abby Zsarnay: I just learned Feeble Grinds.

Istia.tv: What’s the most difficult trick you have done? Abby Zsarnay: Inverts.

Istia.tv: You started with street at Ventura and now you are doing bowl… What do you prefer? Are you better at Street or Bowl? Abby Zsarnay: I did Street in the beginning but all in Parks. I never was a great “Street” skater. Now I do Bowl, Whole Park, Vert & Mini Ramp. Anything with transition. All of my injuries came from skating street, rails, ledges etc.

Istia.tv: When did you switch from street to vert and ramp? Abby Zsarnay: I really made the switch after I tore my ACL while skating street.

Istia.tv: Why did you switch? Abby Zsarnay: I switched because I was done hurting myself on something I did not love.

Istia.tv: What is your favorite surface to skate (wood – concrete)? Abby Zsarnay: I grew up skating wood, but over the years I have skated mostly cement. Cement is my favorite just because there are more cement pools/bowls than there are wood.

The first Betty Patti McGee with Zace: "Abby, you should try the handstand, with your
size, that will look sick!!!" . Photo Chris Zsarnay
Istia.tv: At which skatepark do you go most often? What’s your favorite skatepark? Abby Zsarnay: I go to the Ojai skatepark at least a few times a week. The Ojai skatepark pool has become my favorite spot to skate.

Istia.tv: Do you wear pads and helmets in a pool/skatepark/bowl? Abby Zsarnay: I always wear my helmet and my knee pads when I skate. I wear my helmet and pads because it is not worth risking the injury over just not wearing my gear.

Istia.tv: Have you skated backyard empty pools? Abby Zsarnay: The only 2 backyard pools I have ever skated was the Burger Bowl and the Basic Bowl, both in the Huntington Beach, Ca area. They were both for Competitions. The first one I ever skated was the Burger Bowl backyard pool and I took first place in that comp.

Istia.tv: What skate videos do you like? Abby Zsarnay: I typically don’t watch many skate videos. Mostly because I’m too busy with school and skating. The only time I feel I have time to watch videos is when I’m injured and am not skating. So watching them when I can’t skate makes me want to skate even more. This just ends in frustration.

Istia.tv: Where do you like to skate? Abby Zsarnay: I like to skate at the Ojai skate park for my daily practice. But I always enjoy checking out other parks in California and Oregon. There are so many!!

Istia.tv: Who do you like to skate with? Abby Zsarnay: I like to skate with all of the old school skaters that grew up in the time skating was just starting. My favorite old school skater to skate with locally is Ty Olson.

Istia.tv: Are there skaters that are so impressive that you just stop and watch them? Abby Zsarnay: I love to watch anyone that can skate, from beginners to rippers.

Training for the handstand... One! Two, One! Two!
Istia.tv: What magazines do you read? Abby Zsarnay: Transworld Skateboarding, Skateboarder, PowerEdge & Concrete Wave.

Istia.tv: How long do you spend skating every day? Abby Zsarnay: Usually 2-3 hours

Istia.tv: How long do you train in vert/bowl/park? Abby Zsarnay: 2-3 Hours per day

Istia.tv: How long do you train in street? 0

Istia.tv: Why do you like so much vert and less street? Abby Zsarnay: It’s easier on my knees and joints. And in Vert it’s accepted to wear pads and a helmet. In street you are looked down on if you are wearing gear.

Istia.tv: What’s better riding bowls than vert? Abby Zsarnay: Both are pretty much the same just different in size.

Add caption
Istia.tv: Do you prefer lines or tricks? Abby Zsarnay: Lines.

Istia.tv: Do you prefer doing more tricks or having more style? Abby Zsarnay: Style is a very important aspect.

Istia.tv: Have you suffered any injuries in skate? What was the worst injury? Abby Zsarnay: In August of 2009, I tore my ACL. That took me two years to recover from and I’m still not all the way back from that injury.

Istia.tv: Give me a list of your injuries... Abby Zsarnay: Broken ankle (stopped skating for 6 weeks) Partial ruptured ACL & torn Meniscus. (Stopped skating for 3 months then on and off again for a year due to re-injury) Torn ACL and torn Meniscus surgery (Stopped skating for 4-5 months for recovery from surgery) Also lot’s of sprains, cuts & scrapes that I just keep on skating through.

Istia.tv: So far, what have been some of the highlights of your skateboarding career? Abby Zsarnay: Just being able to skate pretty much anytime of the year is a huge highlight. Living in So. Cal I have that luxury. I think one of the best moments was when I won the S3 Supergirl Am. I was in total shock!! Also receiving my Signature Pro Model Skate Deck from Cheapsk8r. I am super stoked to have my own board.!!

Istia.tv: Do you have a special diet? Vegetarian etc… ? Abby Zsarnay: No, I’m a Carnivore :)

Istia.tv: What do you have planned for this year? Abby Zsarnay: To skate in the Girls Combi
Classic and continue training for next WCS season. And to graduate High School and prepare for College.

Istia.tv: Tell me about “Girls Just wanna Grind”. Abby Zsarnay: Madeleine contacted me to see if I wanted to be involved as one of the girls that was going to the Oregon BiFecta that would be featured in the video. I said I would love to be part of the Documentary.

Add caption
Istia.tv: Tell me about the HelloSkaterGirl project. Are you involved with the project? Abby Zsarnay: Julian (Bleecker) has done a little bit of photography on me but not a whole lot. I met Julian last year at the Girls Combi Classic which I was unable to skate in. I’d like to be more involved though.

Istia.tv: Is there a difference about how skaters treat girls in skatepark? Abby Zsarnay: Sometimes. Until they see us skate. Then we are given respect for getting out there and skating.

Istia.tv: Is there a difference about how girls are treated in the industry? Abby Zsarnay: I think so. I don’t think the skate industry sees us as a very large market but I also think that it’s going to change over the next few years. I see more and more girls getting into skating.

Istia.tv: What’s the difference between boy’s style and girl’s style Abby Zsarnay: I don’t think there is much difference.

Istia.tv: Do you have to be a tomboy to be a girl skater? Abby Zsarnay: No way. You just have to have a high pain tolerance.

isTia.Tv: How did you feel when ESPN cancelled the Women’s XGames? Abby Zsarnay: I could not believe it when I heard that it was cancelled. I think they made a mistake but it all comes down to money. I’m confident that it will be added back in at some date. I can’t believe that. There are so many good female bowl and vert skaters.

When she is not skating Abby is doing: 1) Photography. Photo Abby Zsarnay
Istia.tv: How do you feel that there was no bowl or women vert at the Dew tour this year? Abby Zsarnay: Again I feel it’s wrong but I am confident that it will be added back in. One of my goals is to compete in both the X Games and Dew Tour.

Istia.tv: Is there a professional future for a girl in vert-bowl skateboarding? Abby Zsarnay: Hmm.. Not sure. I’d like to think so but I’m not betting my future income on it. That is why I’m going to college.

Istia.tv: Lizzie Armanto and Allysha Bergado are almost invincible… What do you plan to beat them in the next contest? Abby Zsarnay: LOL…ok No one is invincible. Lizzie and Allysha are good but they can be beat. I have in the past, won Am contests against both of them. Being out injured for two years has set me back some. I am on my way back. Just remember…It’s not if, but when, an injury will occur if you are skating at this level.

When she is not skating, Abby does: 2) necklaces and wallets that she
sells on her website...
Istia.tv: Who are your 3 favorite girl skater of ALL times? Abby Zsarnay: Amelia Brodka, Mimi Knoop, Cara-Beth Burnside.

Istia.tv: Do you have a mentor? Abby Zsarnay: The skater that pushes me now is Ty Olson.

Istia.tv: Tell me about your teaching lessons… Abby Zsarnay: I’ve been giving lessons for the past year. I charge $25.00 per hour. I will go to any skate park in Ventura County to teach.
Istia.tv: Do you think Skateboarding can be at the Olympics? Would that be a good thing for skateboarding? Abby Zsarnay: I think it will eventually. I’m not sure if it will be good or bad for skateboarding. Only time will tell.

Istia.tv: Can you tell me about the California Amateur Skateboard League? What is it? Abby Zsarnay: It’s a great skate organization that was started by Sonja Catalino and she still runs it today. They have monthly competitions in Street, Bowl, Mini Ramp and Vert. It was a great place for me to start competing. The only thing they don’t have is a girls division so all my comps were against the guys. This was tough in the beginning but as I progressed and started beating the guys I got all kinds of respect.

When she is not skating Abby does: 3) skateboard teacher. Photo Chris Zsarnay
Istia.tv: Tell me about the Sony Playstation Am Jam Comp for Vert Ramp at Woodward West . When, where, what happened? Abby Zsarnay: It was a competition that was held at Woodward West and at different locations around the country. I did the Whole Park comp and the Vert comp. I can’t remember what place I got in the Whole Park but in the Vert I got first place, which won me a trip to Woodward East for a week and to compete in the finals. I was the first girl in the history of that competition to make it to the finals.

Istia.tv: You have an amazing web-site. How long do you spend on it every week? Abby Zsarnay: Thanks. My Dad built it for me. I don’t really spend much time on it. I need to spend more time blogging though.

When she is not skating, Abby does: 4) photo, again... Photo Abby Zsarnay
Istia.tv: Tell me about the pictures you are posting on your website. Are those yours? Are you taking photo lessons? Abby Zsarnay: Yes, they are mine from a Digital Photography class I took last year. They were from different assignments that were given through out the year.

Istia.tv: When did you start doing necklaces? How about the wallets? Abby Zsarnay: I like doing both the necklaces and wallets. It’s a nice stress reliever for me. I have sold some but not a ton. I give a lot away too.

Istia.tv: This year, in all contest you entered, you placed in the top 4. It seems your only competitors are Lizzie Armanto, Allysha Bergado and Amelia Brodka. What do you need to do to beat them? Abby Zsarnay: I’m working on new tricks and lines all the time. I don’t really obsess about beating anyone. I just go out and do the best I can and you never know how the judges are going to score you.

And thanks to all my sponsors...
Istia.tv: Something else that we are missing? Abby Zsarnay: Wow!! I don’t think so. That’s the longest interview I have ever given. ;) LOL

Istia.tv: Shout outs and thanks. Abby Zsarnay To all my sponsors: Bob Grijalva at Cheapsk8r, Pamela Zoolalian at Skatera, Chris Chaput at Abec11, Courtney Payne-Taylor at GRO, Joey Odom at Steezie Beanies, Brett Guerin at Ossur/CTI Knee Braces, Travis & Alexia at Ojai Board Shop, Thanks for all your support and encouragement! Also to Matt & Jamie at Silly Girl Designs for always being a huge supporter of my skating. And of course to my Mom, Dad and Grandma for all their support and Love!!!

Thanks to Chris Zsarnay and Abby Zsarnay for the pictures. All picture copyright Z Studios Inc. Used by permissions only.
Vist Abby Zsarnay's website at http://www.abbyskates.com

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