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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Interview with Poppy Starr Olsen: where art and skate meet

Poppy Starr Olsen, Newcastle Bar Beach-Empire Skate Park, Bondi Skate Park, Manly Beach Bowl Contest, Soul Bowl, Bowl-A-Rama, Jack Fardell,  ABC Hurley Australian Bowl Championships, Australian Skateboarding, Dean Tirkot, Bondi Beach
Poppy Starr Clarabelle Olsen. In short Poppy Starr. Just write down her name in a paper, fold and keep it in a safe.
In 10 years the paper will duplicate in value. Photo Thomas Olsen
Interview with Poppy Starr Olsen: where art and skate meet
Right now, stop whatever you are doing and take a lot at the picture on the left. What do you see? If you think you see an “awesome” 11 year old teenage girl you are dead wrong. What you see in no less than the official Australian bowl champ. She landed #1 at the Newcastle event organized by World Cup Skateboarding on January 29th, 2012. Now, write down her name or try to remember it. It’s Poppy Starr Olsen. Starr like a star that she already is, and Poppy like she has a lot of pop! Not difficult to remember right? Poppy had been praised everywhere she went for the past couple of years but she only became mainstream sensation after the Newcastle contest in Australia one month ago.  She has won many Australian competitions including one organized by Renton Miller.
Poppy Starr: "I live at walking distance from the Bondy Beach Bowl..." Are you kiddin' me?
Some take the plane just to be there one week-end... Photo Bondi Beach bowl by Dean Tirkot...
She was also the only girl joining a group of Australian vert groms going on a tour/skate camp session (including Tony Hawk’s place) in the US last year. She spent a week both at Woodward East and West, she skated at the major skateparks in California, including venice and an entire episode of FuelTV was devoted to the little grommets tour from Australia (in which there were 5 skaters in all and Poppy was the only girl).

At the very first Australian national bowl rider event in Newcastle, about two hours north of Sydney, Poppy Olsen made a splash and beat out all her competitors whose average age was about 20. The crowd was roaring every time she had a run, and she skated the best we have seen yet, landing tricks that she had never done before.
After a 2.5 month search for Australia's most talented U18 bowl riders by world champ Renton Millar, the chosen skateboarders took to the bowl at the country's most prestigious international skateboarding event - Vans Bowl-A-Rama Bondi: Lachie Abbott, Jakob Robinson, Noah Fuzi, Ryan Helm, Luke Russell, Keegan Palmer and  Poppy Starr Olsen... The skaters selected each took home a $500 Dew EFTPOS card for their efforts.
Poppy Starr during the Bowl-A-Rama at Bondi Beach. Photo Kim Andison
After years of effort by the local skate community fighting the local establishment, the city of Newcastle bucked up about a year ago to install a world class massive bowl and thus, prompted and supported by the World Cup Skate guys, the first local national bowl-rider event shot off – The Hurley Australian Bowl-Riding Championships.

Her win at Newcastle was not the first time Poppy has outskated much older competitors: she was the highest-ranked female competitor at the mixed category on the Florida leg of an American tour; she actually competed in the mixed junior category and was the highest- ranked female competitor in the Florida leg of the tour, finishing 16th overall.

At the Manly contest, one week after Newcastle, she was the only girl competing in the beach bowl contest as part of the Australian Open of Surfing and she landed 11th amid an all guys jam session. The bowl was so big that tiny Poppy had to use a ladder to jump onto the deck…

Poppy has attracted the attention of French extreme sports brand Perfect Moment, which has begun sponsoring her. Her local spot is Bondi Beach skate park which has a great bowl and she also trains at Monster skate park which has a good 14.5 foot vert ramp. She actually lives at walking distance from one of the best bowls in the world…

Here is isTia.Tv interview with Poppy Starr Olsen

isTia.Tv: How were you introduced to skateboarding and what got you started? Poppy Starr Olsen: A friend of my parents started going out with a skater (Felix) and he gave me my first board…

isTia.Tv: Were there any early influences on your skating?  Poppy Starr Olsen: All the older guys at Bondi were really great at helping me get started.

Early Sunday morning at Bondi beach. You have to be 1st
if you want to be 1st. Photo Kim Andison

isTia.Tv: How are your parents involved with skateboarding?  Poppy Starr Olsen: My parents didn’t get it to start with and weren’t very encouraging but I think they realized pretty early on I wasn’t going to stop. They now help run comps with the Sydney Regional Skateboarders Association.

isTia.Tv: What made them change their mind? Poppy Starr Olsen: I think they saw how good the guys down at Bondi were to me and all the other kids and changed their opinion about what goes down at the skatepark.

isTia.Tv: How good are you at school? Poppy Starr Olsen: I’m pretty average at school but I love art and drama. I like school. I’m actually the School Captain, and have to run the assemblies and talk in front of the school a lot. It’s good fun.

isTia.Tv: Is it Poppy Starr or Poppy Olsen (or Poppy Starr Olsen)? Poppy Starr Olsen:  Poppy Starr Clarabelle Olsen is my full name Starr and Clarabelle after my two Grandmothers…

isTia.Tv: Do you have a nickname? Poppy Starr Olsen: Anything that starts with Pop…Popsicle, Popstar, Popcorn, Poppystarr…

isTia.Tv: What is “Bronte”, another nickname? Poppy Starr Olsen: No, Bronte is not another nickname. Bronte is a couple of beaches south of Bondi Beach. It’s a great beach too and I go to Bronte Public School but really I’m from Bondi…

isTia.Tv: Tell me about you website. Who had the idea of a website? Poppy Starr Olsen: My Dad helps me with the website. We want to get a shopping cart so I can sell my cards and decks on there.

isTia.Tv: Tell me about Fuel TV. I heard they did a special about you? Poppy Starr Olsen: Did they? I’m not sure. ABC are filming me at the moment for a new show in June about high achieving kids or something…

Jack Fardell and his akubra hat. "His akubra hat flies off a lot cos' he goes so fast" Photo Nigel Dawne
isTia.Tv: How do you like Jack Fardell? Is that OK to skate with an akubra hat instead of a helmet in a bowl? Poppy Starr Olsen: I think Jack is awesome! He makes everything look so easy. His akubra flies off a lot cos’ he goes so fast. I think everyone should wear a helmet in the bowl, I’ve seen so many people knocked out.

isTia.Tv: Do you prefer bowls, ramp or street? Poppy Starr Olsen: Definitely bowls and ramps.

isTia.Tv: Do you like contests? Poppy Starr Olsen: I love  competing and seeing the other girls skate too…

isTia.Tv: Are contests important for you? Poppy Starr Olsen: Yeah, they help me improve. I think so, it makes me try harder and sometimes I set goals – like tricks I have to land
Poppy is part of the Bowl revival and the girl’s bowl rider series on isTia.Tv. Photo Kim Andison
before I get to the comp.

isTia.Tv: How many contests have been in? Poppy Starr Olsen: Heaps!!!

isTia.Tv: Do you often go to contest? Poppy Starr Olsen: I go to as many as I can. The big comps are in the summer but there is probably 1 a month during the year.

isTia.Tv: Your best contests ever? Poppy Starr Olsen: The last three I’ve just been in! Hurley Australian Bowl Riders Championship, Australian Open of Surfing Beach Bowl Comp and Bowl-a-Rama  was an amazing time.

isTia.Tv: Your worst contests ever?  Poppy Starr Olsen: The ones I couldn’t make!

The "awesome" girl at work. This is both her office and her playground. Photo Kim Andison
isTia.Tv: Best contest memory ? Poppy Starr Olsen: Winning in January at the Hurley ABC!

isTia.Tv: Worst contest memory? Poppy Starr Olsen: My friend Ben Key broke his arm in Manley at the Australian Open of Surfing and the comp had to be postponed because it took 2 hours to get him out of the bowl. Poor Benny…

isTia.Tv: Tell me about the 1st contest you won. I have heard it was organized by Renton Miller… Poppy Starr Olsen: Yeah the first ever vert comp I went in was in Melbourne at the Shed. It was great fun; Renton helps kids a lot in skating…

isTia.Tv: How were you selected for the Newcastle’s Bar Beach-Empire Skate Park contest last month? Poppy Starr Olsen: Anyone could enter I think,
Poppy Olsen during the Manly Beach contest:"It was a pretty deep bowl I had to use a ladder to get out"
you just had to be able to skate the bowl, it’s pretty big.

isTia.Tv: How did you feel landing #1 at Newcastle? All your competitors were about 20 years old and you were the youngest? Poppy Starr Olsen: It was a great feeling, I was the youngest by about 10 years. I landed a trick that I had never done before so it felt really good.  I’m going have to try really hard to beat them next year…

isTia.Tv: So, if you were #1 at Newcastle, does that mean you are officially the best women skateboarder in Australia? Poppy Starr Olsen: Just for bowl riding, but there are a lot of other really great girls too.

isTia.Tv: Was it the first time that you beat skaters older than you? Poppy Starr Olsen:  I usually get a place in bowl contests
#1 at Newcastle’s Bar Beach-Empire Skate Park. That makes her the 1st Australian women national Bowl
champion at 11 years old amid other girls 10 years older than her. Photo Nigel Dawes
but not in street. I’m hopeless…

isTia.Tv: Who did you met at Newcastle? Poppy Starr Olsen:  I met lots of new friends. I really liked meeting Kalani David and his Dad. I hadn’t met any of the girls in the final before so that was really fun.

isTia.Tv: How is it that you were the only girl selected at Manly Beach Bowl Contest? Poppy Starr Olsen:  I’m not sure. It’s a pretty deep bowl I had to use a ladder to get out.

isTia.Tv: How was it at Bondi? Poppy Starr Olsen: Bowl-a-Rama is so much fun. I love watching them all skate. I’ve met them (Cab, Ngoho, Bucky Lasek, Grosso…) all before but I still get really excited. Pat Ngoho is really nice, they all are. Bucky told me some really good tips this time.

Poppy Olsen at manly Beach Contest. She was the only girl accepted in the guy's jam session.
Take a look at the ladder in the back. Photo Justin Lloyd
isTia.Tv: How many countries have you visited thanks to skateboarding? Poppy Starr Olsen:  For skating? Just the States but my Grandfather took me to Japan snowboarding in January because he thinks I could do well in that sport too…

isTia.Tv: Tell about the skate tour-camp session in the US. Poppy Starr Olsen: The iskate Australia - Monster US Tour was last July and we stayed in both Woodward West and East and competed in the Gatorade Free Flow in Tampa and San Diego. We stayed for almost a month and skated at Venice Beach and some amazing skateparks. We had 5 skaters and 6 BMX guys on tour. I was the youngest and the only girl. My Mum was freaking especially when they sent photos home of me
At her home park in Bondi Beach. Photo Thomas Olsen
doing crazy stuff like the mini mega at Woodward.

isTia.Tv: How about the Gatorade Free Flow. Poppy Starr Olsen: It’s a series of comps across the States and the winners get to go to the finals and then the winner of that gets to go to the Do the Dew Tour…

isTia.Tv: Tell me about the first time you met with Tony Hawk… Poppy Starr Olsen: I’ve met Tony Hawk twice- both times in Australia. It was awesome, we tandem skated on the vert ramp and he aired over the top of me. He invited us to skate his ramp when we were over there but we ran out of time.

isTia.Tv: How do you pay for all those trips in the US.   Poppy Starr Olsen: Well, it was just the one trip but a big one - we went for 25 days. Last year my
At Monster Skatepark in Sydney, Australia. Photo Monster
parents held a big fund raising party for me but this year they said I have to earn some of the money buying selling my cards and decks that I design.

isTia.Tv: Would you like to come to the next Combi Pool Party at Vans? Poppy Starr Olsen: I would loooove to come to the Combi Pool Party. I’m really going to try hard to get there.

isTia.Tv: What bowls do you have in Australia and how big are they? Do you go often to those bowls? Poppy Starr Olsen: We have a few bowls but my favourite are Bondi and Newcastle. They are the ones I go to most. There is also a new skate pak in Nimbin in the hills from Byron Bay. It’s so much fun it has a snake run and huge bowl and my friend Franco keeps it so clean. There is also a free pool
"Monster skate park is awesome! It’s at Sydney Olympic Park and it has a 14 foot vert 
ramp with two higher roll ins that are really fun! I go there every Thursday 
night to train with my coach." Photo Monster

right beside the skate park. It’s a great big circle pool…

isTia.Tv: Tell me about the Monster skate park. Poppy Starr Olsen: Monster skate park is awesome! It’s at Sydney Olympic Park and it has a 14 foot vert ramp with two higher roll ins that are really fun! I go there every Thursday night to train with my coach, it takes about an hour from Bondi. There is a foam pit and trampoline and heaps on ramps and an enormous indoor section.

isTia.Tv: Is Bondi the best skatepark in the world? What’s in the park? How often do you go there? Is it far from where you live? Poppy Starr Olsen: Bondi is my home bowl so of course I think it’s the best. It’s a 5 minute walk from my house and its right on the best beach beach in the world too! There’s some transition stuff and another small bowl called the fish bowl and great people. I try to go every day.

isTia.Tv: Do you skate backyard pools? Poppy Starr Olsen: I would like to try but never have.

isTia.Tv: Have you ever been injured while skatin? Poppy Starr Olsen: Not really just cuts and bruises. I smashed my face once when I first started skating

isTia.Tv: What have you done in the past 3 months? Poppy Starr Olsen:  Its been a huge 3 months with Newcastle, Manly then Bowl-a-Rama.

isTia.Tv: What trick are you working on? Poppy Starr Olsen: Proper 50/50’s and 360’s.

isTia.Tv: Do you surf? Snowboard? Poppy Starr Olsen: I love both but get to go surfing a lot more. I played rugby union in a boys team for 5 years but dropped it before the US tour last year – my parents were scared I would break my ankle or something before the trip. I played half-back.

"Bowl-a-Rama is so much fun" Photo Kim Andison
isTia.Tv: Let' talk about your sponsors, how do they support you? Poppy Starr Olsen: My sponsors are Perfect Moment, iskate australia, Monster skate park, and TSG. Gallaz keep sending me great shoes too! I would love to get sent to America to compete in the Combi Bowl – that would be awesome!!! I met my coach Hagan McCreath when I first started skating. He and Darren Hughes run iskate australia and they have a whole heap of coaches for street, vert and bowl. So I train with them on Thursday night. They organized and took us on the the trip to America. I met the owners of Perfect Moment when they were visiting Australia and I helped teach their girls how to skate at Bondi. I guessed they talked to Thierry and they liked me and thought I might get to be pretty good one day. Thierry is coming to Bondi in June to film me for his new movie.

isTia.Tv: Tell me about “La Nuit de la Glisse ». Why does a French company want to sponsor an Australian girl ? Poppy Starr Olsen: Nuit de la Glisse are extreme action sport movies filmed by Thierry Donnard -a French director – he actually used to film Christian Hosoi. He is always filming people trying to find the Perfect Moment like the perfect wave or the perfect ride or landing the perfect trick, things like that. Perfect Moment are part of that, they are an extreme action sports clothing brand  and they are bringing out a clothing line for kids called ‘Mini Moments’, they want me to be the face of it.

isTia.Tv: Who are your favorite old school skaters? Poppy Starr Olsen: Steve Cab, and the guys at Bondi

isTia.Tv: What’s the most difficult trick you have done? Poppy Starr Olsen:  I’m trying to land a 360 over the hip of the Bondi bowl at the moment and its really hard.

isTia.Tv: What is your favorite surface to skate? Poppy Starr Olsen: I definitely like skating on wood the best!

isTia.Tv: Do you wear pads and helmets? Poppy Starr Olsen: I always wear my helmet and pads. I just always have.

isTia.Tv: Who do you like to skate with? Poppy Starr Olsen: My friend Grace, she’s an awesome skater and great at coping stuff. She has her own ramp and her Mum painted flowers and leaves and vines
You don't have to be a tomboy to be a girl skater. Photo Thomas Olsen

on it to blend in with the garden, it’s beautiful.

isTia.Tv: Are there skaters that are so impressive that you just stop and watch them? Poppy Starr Olsen: Heaps! Pedro Barros is amazing; Curran Caples makes everything look so easy. Bucky and Sergie go so high I love watching them too…

isTia.Tv: What magazines do you read? Poppy Starr Olsen:  I sometimes read Slam but I mostly read book

isTia.Tv: How long do you spend skating every day? Poppy Starr Olsen: I try to fit in at least an hour on the week days and lots more on the weekends…

"Thanks to Dean Tirkot for always taking awesome photos" Photo Dean Tirkot
isTia.Tv: So far, what have been some of the highlights of your skateboarding career? Poppy Starr Olsen: Winning the Hurley Australian Bowl Riders Championship, skating with Tony Hawk and landing the Mini Mega at Woodward East.

isTia.Tv: Do you have a special diet? Vegetarian? Poppy Starr Olsen: Not really. I’m pretty healthy though, I love sushi and hate McDonalds.

isTia.Tv: Other things we missed? Poppy Starr Olsen: I really love to draw. If I’m not skating, I’m drawing. I run my own business selling the cards and decks I have designed. I have three shops I sell my stuff to and can’t wait to do my next deck. I have so many designs!

Thanks and shoutouts to…

Perfect Moment,

Hagan McCreath, iskate australia and all the guys at Bondi for teaching me everything I know.

And My family for always taking me skating everywhere

and to Bronte Public School for letting have time off to compete

and to Dean Tirkot for always taking awesome photos


Thanks to Kim Andison, Nigel Dawes, Dean Tirkot and Thomas Olsen for the pix. Thanks to Thomas (Poppy’s mom) for retyping the whole stuff and make this interview possible. Thanks to Poppy, the “awesome” girl from Down Under, soon to a skatepark near you; don’t forget to call me when you’re world champ, we’ll make a follow-up interview…

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I skate therefore I am: skateboard pools, pipes, parks, bowls and vert, daily skateboarding news...
posted by Xavier Lannes @ Tuesday, March 13, 2012 

Blogger Cindy Whitehead said...

Poppy Starr - you are rad! Keep shredding!!!

March 14, 2012 at 4:50 PM  

Skate Quote of the Day