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Pro Chat: Sarah Meurle

Switch heelflip, photo by Alex Braza

The super-smooth skater and former cooler cover star chats taking pictures, the thriving girls’ scene in Sweden and the joys of escaping Scandi winters. You can check how smooth her style is here

Interview by Sam Haddad

Hey Sarah, what’ve you been up to lately?

Hello! At the moment I’m living in Lund, this cute little town next to Malmö, in a big house with some friends. I’m never really sick much but this year I’ve had more sick days than good ones so I’ve had to paste myself and stick around for a while, you know, drinking tea, hanging out with grandma and studying languages. But, summer was really great, we had some proper Scandinavian summertime and travelled to parts of Europe skating with good friends.

Speaking of skating with good friends, we really liked your photo story, have you always been into taking pictures?
I’m glad you liked it. I’ve been fascinated by photography for a long time, but I first developed a real interest for it when I was 16, so 5 years ago, when I took photography class in school. It sort of opened up my eyes and I got really into it.

And have you always been good at it or did you go through a few hundred films working it out!?
I had some sort of feeling for it… I think! But it’s kind of strange these days cos the way I learned photography at first was the digital way. On a Nikon D80, I used it manually rather than automatic because it felt more real and was more of a challenge, but I really wanted to learn how to shoot analogue. I have a big collection of different film snapshot cameras but then I got half a broken Nikon f100 from my friend and it was with that camera that I learnt my ways. Since I started using film more and more I got further away from the digital camera and now I hardly ever use a camera without a roll of film in it.

How come you didn’t get any action shots?
Well, it’s just hard to do on a skate trip when there’s already a hired skate photographer there and I’m there to skate. And really, most of the time I’d rather be skateboarding. Everything is skateboarding, a picture of someone’s sweaty face after a session is usually more interesting for me to shoot than the actual skate trick. If I’m just out skating with some friends I might shoot something though. Me and Louisa Menke have been talking about this, because she takes lots of photos as well. We wanna start doing trips where we are the skaters and the photographers. It’s an upcoming project of ours.

Sound good, keep us posted. There seems to be a fun crew of good Euro girls at the moment, what do you like most about riding with those girls and which of the skaters impresses you most?
Yeah it is a great crew, I’ve gotten to know Louisa and Begona Cortes while living in Barcelona and kind of bumped into lots of girls at contests here and there. Since everyone pretty much lives in their own city and we don’t get to see each other very often it’s always good times when we do! I like the fun and the humble, really motivating vibe there is amongst the girls. On this trip especially that we did to Bilbao Iannire Elloriaga really killed it in the local minibowl. She has some massive board control.

How’s Malmo, is it a tough place to live in winter?
It gets dark early and way cold. I can’t really deal with it for too long. The past three winters I’ve been away. Barcelona is the classic Swede getaway trip. I lived there two winters ago, and during this last one I was living in Vancouver and went to Los Angeles for a while. I’ve sort of promised myself I’ll never spend another whole winter in Sweden if I can choose not to.

Don’t blame you, I guess indoor parks must be a lifesaver if you do stick around?
Yeah man, since I was thirteen, the Bryggeriet indoor park saved my winters, it’s a good place to be for a kid, and an adult actually. Big up Bryggeriet!

Photo by Nils Svensson

What other stuff do you get up to?
I like exploring new places, especially in nature. And I’m gonna get up to some surfing soon hopefully, in a distant country with beautiful beaches…
Here, I ride my bicycle, do yoga, hang out with friends, nerd out on old soul music, watch documentaries and cook Indian food. And I study Spanish, Danish and English as distance courses. Studying in Sweden is great, cos you get money for it.

Wow that’s cool. Are there lots of good young girl skaters in Sweden?
There’s definitely a couple coming up, and the whole country seems to be pretty encouraging towards skateboarding at the moment, since they are building a lot of new concrete parks, and they invite girls to come and do demos, and there are skate camps being held, and a couple of driven spirits working with it. Good organising is a Swedish trait, so I think that’s where it comes from.

What can be done to get more girls into skating?
It’s never been as popular as it is right now. There are girls’ skate nights every Monday at the indoor park and I’ve never seen so many girls coming back as regularly as they do now. It’s pretty cool to see. So just continue with camps especially for girls and keep encouraging them to give them more confidence to do whatever they want. It always helps to see someone else doing it, that feeling of, “If she can do it, I can do it”.

What are your plans for next year?
Oh man, I’m the kind of person who has thousands of ideas in my head, but don’t really plan any further than the upcoming month.
What I think is gonna happen is that I’ll go to Barcelona in December to skate and spend Christmas there,  Dominican Republic in January to surf, then take it from there. Maybe I’ll go to Mexico. I wanna go back to New York, and Vancouver. I have a real urge to get out there with all my energy that I’ve had to keep inside this year from being sick. Study, and skate, maybe do some wwoofing on some farms. Film a new part, do some film projects, contests. All of it. I’m down. Getting a bit too excited here!

Photo by Alana Paterson

Have you ever been to Brazil, they seem to produce a lot of good skaters at the moment?
Yeah I went there when I was 19, I did a trip by myself to visit some friends in different cities and stayed for six weeks. They really do have a great level of skating there. The girls as well as the guys. I don’t know how, it must be something in their veins. All the Brasilian girls that are travelling to Europe and Cali on the contest scene are killing it. I was gonna go to Sao Paulo now at the end of this month for a girls’ contest there but I had to cancel my plans for this time.

Is it possible to make a living as a sponsored girl skater in Europe?
It’s a tough one. It’s not impossible, but it really needs some good hookups. I’m not living off of skating, although I do get to travel loads and once I do travel it’s most of the time for free. During the summer season it’s easier cos there’s a lot of contests and events going on all the time.

Any other burning issues in skateboarding that you’d like to raise?
What they are doing over in Kabul with Skateistan is amazing and this shows us what a great tool a skateboard can be to communicate through. They’ve opened up a new school in Cambodia now as well. I think that’s the future. Just get everyone on skateboards and spread the love.

Amen to that. Thanks Sarah!

Thank you, and a thousand thanks to Vans, WeSC, Bellows, Streetlab, Rockstar Bearings & Ace Trucks.

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