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Skateboarding News

Monday, April 30, 2012

Interview with Pauliana Laffabrier. Bowl Rider, French and Girl

Pauliana Laffabrier FS Layback at Bordeaux Skatepark. Photo Mary Sweet
Interview with Pauliana Laffabrier. Bowl Rider, French and Girl

(Skateboarding News) So, apart from the USA, Australia and Brazil it seems vert skateboarding also exists in other parts of the world… Take France… Although France still has to yield a bowl-vert rider at the same level as Pedro Barros, Nolan Munroe or Austin Poynter; for a very long time, the country had plenty of ramp and vert riders (Read Jean Marc Lalondrelle Interview on isTia.Tv) but it was not until a couple of months ago that the bowl craze started to pick up. Of course, there was, and still is, the bowl of Marseille, but that's only one bowl for a country that is bigger than California...

Paulie Portrait by Fred Ferand
You should expect the French level to rise in the next months or years. How about girl skateboarders? Well, there is only a handful of them… What a shocker…

Pauliana Laffabrier Crail Transfer in the fun box. Photo Mary Sweet
We met with Pauliana Laffabrier who is part of the new French vert revival. She is only the first girl of several others French bowl and vert riders to have a profile on isTia, I Skate, Therefore I Am. Expect more...

isTia.Tv: When and how did you start skateboarding?Pauliana Laffabrier: I started skateboarding in 2007 with my half-brother, we self-helped each other! We had a SpiderMan board that we bought at Decathlon (a big box retailer) at the time. We practiced in our garage, I was fascinated by skateboarding. I tried it and I found it cool. In our garden there was a mini flat concrete area, I took my first ollies, and my first sprained ankles trying to do flips. In my village, there was not much for
"Vert is much more adapted for skateboarding, and street should be done in the street, not in the skateparks."
Pauliana Laffabrier at the P.A.S skate house. Photo Mary Sweet
skateboarding, no parks and no spots apart from a place with a sidewalk... So I practiced street skating a few times and because of a lack of motivation, I stopped skating for over a year. But when I arrived in Bordeaux in 2010, I discovered the ramp, and I fell in love with vertical skating!

isTia.Tv: So, you are you more of a bowl rider? Pauliana Laffabrier: I almost only do vert. Say, if in France there were the street parks that you have in the US, I might as well do street, but our parks are fairly rudimentary and I still find that there are many more feelings, adrenaline and respect for each other in ramp riding.

Pauliana Laffabrier at the PAS House (Skate House) Photo Mary Sweet
isTia.Tv: In a recent interview with ISTIA Pedro Barros told us that bowl riding is the future of skateboarding. Do you see that coming in Europe? Pauliana Laffabrier: I think it starts to happen in France, from a bowl or two a few years ago, we now have a couple of bowls or pools including Gujan Mestras. But I feel that the city mayors are afraid of "big skateparks," whereas that’s what we need. They prefer to trust the modules manufacturers who know nothing about skateboarding because they are playgrounds or tennis stadium builders! (Yes, there is no logic but it is France!) But more and more manufacturers who are actually skateboarders successfully bided and won. It's about time because the level of skateparks in
Pauliana Laffabrier Salad at Gornan (Spain) Photo Maxime Conan
France lags behind the U.S. ...

isTia.Tv: Skateboarding in France is different from the rest of Europe? Pauliana Laffabrier: I have not had the chance to travel a lot. I went to Spain and skateboarding there is very different from France. They have almost a bowl in each city and hundreds of street spots plus the weather is nice! Having Spain on our doorsteps is a little bit like a dream. It’s only 3 hours my home.

isTia.Tv: Is skateboarding in France and Europe different from skateboarding in the USA? Pauliana Laffabrier: Of course it is! Let’s take the example of the Venice Beach skatepark. Well; we don’t
Pauliana Laffabrier Nose Grabat Bordeaux. Photo Maxime Conan
even have a skate park like that, not even in the largest city in France! In France there is not even 10 pools, and about the same number of mega ramps. There are really not a lot of girls to skate too. And even less are into vert. I’m sure there are less than 10. I really don’t understand why we are so few, skateboarding is open to everyone, and this is not a sport only reserved for guys!

isTia.Tv: How do skateboarders see bowl riders in France? Pauliana Laffabrier: I am not overly concerned about what others think. In France, street and very are really two worlds apart. There are like clans who disliked each other because some skaters are vert riders and the others are street rider, it's utterly stupid, in all cases, it’s skateboarding. From my perspective, vert is much more adapted for skateboarding, and street should be done in the street, not in the skateparks. Of course, you can find Old Guys around the bowls and ramps, it is part of their time, it's even better that there is this inter-generational wealth, most of these OGs are an inspiration for me.

isTia.Tv: What was the first park you rode? Pauliana Laffabrier: The first park I rode was 20 minutes away from my house (La Réole) in a modular skatepark with a bank, a small tranny, a manual table and a bar. On top of it, the surface was made of tar ... There was hardly anyone skatin’ because like most skateparks, it was not done by skateboarders for skateboarders.

isTia.Tv: Was there a lot of girls riding at the skateparks? Pauliana Laffabrier: At my first park? No. There was not any girl. It’s only when I arrived in Bordeaux, that I met Mary who started skateboarding at about the same time as me. There was already a ramp and I had hardly ever do that, I really find it cool to skate with a girl! Now there is a group of three girls who skate the bowl (Mary, Marine, a recent skater and I).

isTia.Tv: Until recently there was almost no skateparks in France and suddenly it seems skateparks are popping up everywhere ... What is happening? Pauliana Laffabrier: Hehe!! We're not going to complain! Keep it coming! We still have a long way before we catch up to America! It is true that there
Pauliana Laffabrier FS Air at Gujan Mestras. Photo Maxime Conan
are two bowls under construction (one is at 30 minutes away from home and the other one is at 2 hours from home). The skatepark of Gujan Mestras has a very nice pool and there is a skate plaza, but the skate plaza still lacks a mega, the closest ramp is at Nantes, 4h driving north of Bordeaux.

isTia.Tv: How Many new skateparks have opened in France in the past 2 years? Pauliana Laffabrier: I could not say exactly how many skateparks opened in France over the past two years. I think twenty, I mean real skateparks, real concrete or indoor skateparks, not modular skateparks that are very dangerous. There are a lot
FS Grind at the Black Bowl Battallion. Photo Maxime Conan
of skateparks everywhere but in reality, those skateparks are abandoned because the municipalities have no budget for skateboarding. They just add a pyramid, a bank and a bar in the hope that skateboarders will like it. In addition to being virtually unskatable, these skate parks are dangerous (La Galerie Des Horreurs)

Tagged bowl. Is it art or vandalism? Pauliana Laffabrier at Gujan-Mestras Bowl FS-Air Photo Fred Ferand
isTia.Tv: So, how about the new skatepark at Gujan Mestras? Pauliana Laffabrier: The skate park of Gujan Mestras opened in December 2011, it is south of Bordeaux and just next to the sea skatepark is one of the closest to me, 30 minutes by freeway. The pool is approximately 145m ²; the big party just under 2m with a death box and the shallow end is 1m20 with one step.

isTia.Tv: What is the Black Battalion Bowl? Pauliana Laffabrier: It is about twenty friends who foolishly sought to build a pool kept secret and private, simply because 2-3 years ago, there was no pools in France. This is a real DIY wooden pool and it’s rad!

Although the specialty of the Bordelais is the Bordeaux, they are more and more focused on skateboarding. But  a
glass of Sauternes and a Foie Gras between two runs would be welcome. Pierre Gosset at Gujan Mestras.
Photo Fred Ferand
isTia.Tv: What skateparks have you skated outside of France? Pauliana Laffabrier: I only went to the Southwest of Spain. Sondika, Algorta, Leioa, Ermua, Armintza, Gorliz, Urduliz, Las Arenas, Barakaldo, and Plentzia. There are so many skateparks that I can have missed one or two. All these parks are located in small villages and are more or less side by side! The skate park Sondika was built in 2009 (Sondika) it’s only 3 hours from home. Unfortunately I don’t really have the opportunity to go there often, so far only 3 times.

isTia.Tv: Are there skateboarders in your family? Pauliana Laffabrier: I started skating with my half-brother, now he has virtually stopped, he prefers playing music! My little brother got to skate a few years after me. When I moved to Bordeaux, the village hall where I lived decided to build a skatepark. We fought for the skatepark to be made out of concrete, and now it attracts a lot of skateboarders. This is a good example to follow; I hope that local councils are beginning to understand.

Photo Fred Ferand
isTia.Tv: How did your family support you with skateboarding? Pauliana Laffabrier: My parents do not give great importance, my mother was still cool because she was driving us (with my half-brother) to the park when I started. She had to drive 15km to go, 30 km round trip! She is happy for me when I told him I have an article or a picture in a magazine, but she has other things’ to think about.

isTia.Tv: Do you surf? Pauliana Laffabrier: No, I never surfed. I’m not interested, for now.

isTia.Tv: When did you skate the P.A.S house? Pauliana Laffabrier: I guess this is the Skate House? Say it is not at all common to skate something like that! There are a lot of flat and the curve is rad, and you find yourself very quickly in the over-vert! The tricks are limited but it's really fun to skate. The ramp is now in Bordeaux, at the Caserne Niel. It is Sebastien Daurel (former pro skateboarder for Adidas) who recovered and reassembled it and put it in a covered shed. He has already mounted his bowl with a curb extension and a coping, and two ramps! He is currently building a mega ramp :) I can’t wait!

isTia.Tv: Although it is growing, the participation of girls in skateboarding in France is still extremely rare. How many skater girls are there in France? Pauliana Laffabrier: I do not even know if we represent 10%, I count thirty girls all over France. I think girls represent one, maybe two percent of all the skaters, no more ..

isTia.Tv: Why is it that so few girls are skateboarding? Pauliana Laffabrier: I don’t know, it's a mystery. Many girls like skateboarding. But they don’t picture themselves skateboarding. Afraid of getting hurt, I guess.

isTia.Tv: Is skateboarding a guy's sport? Pauliana Laffabrier: In part yes, but with the right motivation any girl can do it too!

isTia.Tv: Who are the girls skaters who inspires you? Pauliana Laffabrier: Allysha Bergado & Lizzie Armanto impress me much, I admire them! These prove to me that the girls can be
"Of course, you can find Old Guys around the bowls and ramps, it is part of their time, it's even better that there is this
 inter-generational wealth, most of these OGs are an inspiration for me." Seb Daurel At Gujan Mestras.
Photo Fred Ferand
as strong as a guy in the world of skateboarding. I also like Nora Vasconcellos, she is really versatile, she practice street as well as the vert!

isTia.Tv: Girls like Lizzie Armanto, Allysha Bergado or Amelia Brodka have an amazing bowl level, yet they are very feminine and gracious on a skateboard. Do you think that’s an exception and those girls skateboarder are usually tomboys or is the trend going toward a more feminine way of skateboarding? Pauliana Laffabrier: It is important to take care of yourself, and to be a minimum feminine especially in female skateboarding. Don’t forget that we are primarily girls! I don’t think that this is an exception, more and more
It was not until a couple of months ago that the bowl craze started to pick up, especially around Bordeaux.
Alexis Bauche at the Gujan Mestras Bowl. Photo Fred Ferand
girls understand that.

isTia.Tv: Amelia Brodka is preparing a documentary on girls skateboarding. She started with no material, no money, no help and now everybody is waiting for the documentary. That is expected to be a big deal ... How do you see Amelia's venture? Pauliana Laffabrier: Respect, I really can’t wait to see this documentary.

isTia.Tv: Have you ever skated a backyard pool? Do you want to? Pauliana Laffabrier: I would love to skate a real pool yeah!

isTia.Tv: Core skateboarders say skateboarding is not a 
sport but a way of life, an art… What does skateboarding represent for you? Pauliana Laffabrier: For me, Skateboarding is a kind of lifestyle. Skateboarding only brought me good, it taught me to stop being afraid of what people see, to have simple contact with people of all ages and backgrounds without giving any importance to the age. I know that if I go to a skatepark, I would always find a place to be greeted without fear because even though skateboarding is an extensive family, we are very few at the same time and wherever you go, you may cross buddies even if it’s at the other end of world.

Pauliana Laffabrier at BBB. Photo Fred Ferand
isTia.Tv: For years, some people have pushed to include skateboarding in the olympics. Other people said that this would destroy skateboarding as we know it. So, skateboarding at the olympics, it is good, bad or not relevant ? Pauliana Laffabrier: I am rather against, I do not necessarily like competitions. I think we can’t judge the level, technique, style of people. Each skater chooses his tricks, has a facility or not to land them. We can’t decide which skater is better or not, it's too subjective. This is one reason why I do not do competitions.

isTia.Tv: Tell me about the push that the City of Bordeaux is doing for skateboarding… Pauliana Laffabrier: I think it was an event not run at all by skaters
Paula Laffabrier Photo Fred Ferand
because it did not work. I do not even know what was the purpose, indeed their ideas of various testimonies of skaters was a good idea but apart from that ... There was nothing else. I had to do an interview for them, and they never posted it, I do not know why. I actually do not care!

isTia.Tv: How do you see yourself in five years in skateboarding? In 10 years? Pauliana Laffabrier: I hope that I would always be healthy enough to skate, I would probably own a small concrete bowl with a coping to be able to skate at home when I come back from work ;)

isTia.Tv: Are you sponsored? Pauliana Laffabrier: No, no sponsor for girls in France.

isTia.Tv: Do you want to add something That we missed? Pauliana Laffabrier: Thank you!

isTia.Tv: Thanks a lot Pauliana!

Translated from French. Thanks a lot to Fred Ferand, Mary Sweet, Maxime Conan for the pictures...

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I skate therefore I am: skateboard pools, pipes, parks, bowls and vert, daily skateboarding news...
posted by Xavier Lannes @ Monday, April 30, 2012 


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