etnies queen of BMX, Nina Buitrago, chats about getting dirty, dislocating shoulders and taking on the boys...
From: Long Island, NY
How did you get into biking? I was pretty bad at skateboarding and after seeing some friends ride at their dirt jumps, it looked so fun. I knew I couldn’t watch any more and I had to try it!
When did everything turn serious and you decided to commit yourself to the sport full time? When I finished college and moved to Ohio to be closer to my favorite ramp park ever, Chenga World (R.I.P). The progression for everyone in the scene was so awesome. It was around that time that I knew I wanted to keep learning and pushing it. I never realised how far it could take me; I just followed my heart and kept doing what I love and trying to get better at it.
Did you find it pretty hard to break into a male-dominated sport? Whether it was at the dirt jumps, a ramp park or cruising the street, I realized that everyone had to start somewhere; everyone has been a beginner at some point! Realizing that helped me get over the fear of going for it, and to really just enjoy learning how to ride BMX. It wasn’t until a girl friend of mine came with me to the ramp park to watch and pointed out that we were the only girls in the building, that I thought wow, I'd never even noticed that! However, the hardest part now with so many girls riding BMX is trying to get the bigger TV contests to give us our own class to compete!
Can you give us a run down of your average day? Wake up, check the weather: if it’s nice out I'll ride downtown and if the weather's not nice I'll go to one of the local indoor parks and ride with friends. Cleveland is pretty central so a lot of people pass through to ride some of our amazing indoor parks. It's great because it means I always have people to ride with!
And if you could have the perfect day, what would it include? The perfect day would be an all girl BMX jam, next to a beach in Australia at a park setup with the original Chenga World ramps.
What are your plans for this summer? I'm looking forward to trying to enter some of the Dew Tour contests (they haven’t let girls ride the open qualifiers yet, but I’m trying again now!); going to Woodward camp for a few weeks; entering some contests, and quite a few team trips with DK Bicycles : )
What’s your favourite place to ride? Chenga World Skatepark (R.I.P.), or the T1 ramp in Austin, Texas.
Do you still get nervous before a big contest? Yes! I always wonder if during my run I'll have the nerve to try all of the stuff on the course I spotted beforehand.
What is the atmosphere like behind the scenes? Behind the scenes, I’d say it’s just a lot of chilling and riding, straight up fun, because if you’re not having fun, then what is it for?
You must travel a lot: what are your suitcase essentials? My toothbrush, some sunscreen, plenty of socks, undergarments, one nice outfit (can‘t always be looking like a dirty bike rider ha, ha!), and safety gear! I went on a trip through the northwest once with all of these amazing cement parks and I somehow forgot my pads! There were so many more things I think I would’ve done at some of those spots had I had my pads. I still went for it a lot and came home all beat up after that trip. So far, that has been one of the worst things I've forgotten, so make sure you bring your safety gear!
What have been your biggest career setbacks? Injuries. I dislocated my shoulder five times in one year and got a severe ankle sprain that had to be casted for almost two months... Both are still kind of keeping me from going as big as I’d like to at the moment.
But on the flip side, what have your greatest achievements been so far? Despite the injuries, I’ve managed to learn some new tricks, take first at all the girls contests in the last two years and move up in the ranks at the guys comps too. I even opened my mind up to riding mountain bikes and recently took first in Girls Park and Street events too!
Who or what are your inspirations? All girls who ride everywhere! I’m inspired by genuine people who are driven, when you can totally see it in their riding and personality. The younger girls on the come up from Australia, South America and the UK are killing it. They are doing things I never thought I’d see a girl do on a bike, and they are a perfect example to others. Seeing them progress helps me work towards my own goals that much harder, as well as pursue my mission to make it easier for girls everywhere to get into riding.
What affect does your career have on your personal life? Well if anything I’ve made so many more friends all over the world, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How do you relax when you get the chance? I love the beach - any chance I get I try to go to the beach! The sound of the ocean and the feeling of the sand always hits my reset button.
What’s up next for you? Getting ready for Woodward Camp and some etnies Girls Get on Board clinics! Woo!