Trying our first steps on a skateboard at the Vans Girlie skate camp in Berlin, we caught up with coaches and pro skaters Anna Kruse and Sabrina 'Puse' Goeggel to find out why skateboarding is more than just a sport and how to get over the imminent fear of smashing your bones on the concrete.
Interview: Anna Langer - Photos: Christoph Leib Left: Anna Kruse
How do you like Berlin?
Anna: It’s an awesome city and there are so many amazing street spots! Sabrina: I like Berlin a lot, especially the street spots. Next to Stuttgart it’s one of the best cities in Germany to skate in. But getting from one spot to the other takes quite some organising as travelling around needs a lot of time in such a big city.
Is it difficult to do a girls camp at street spots?
A: Yes, the spots are pretty big and most of the girls haven’t been skating that long. S: The girls feel more comfortable riding ramps in the park but I think the street is the best teacher. The girls also have a bit of a problem when there are other guys skating the spots, but if they want the guys to respect them they just have to stand their ground. That’s something they still have to learn.
Any tips how to do that?
S: Always try everything, skate all the time and don’t sit down. A: Don’t think about what the guys will think. S: Just skate and the guys will see that you really want it, then you’re down with them.
How do you experience coaching the camp?
S: I like that I can do something for the girls and the scene. But my experience is that you can’t really teach skateboarding. It’s a lifestyle and you either live it or you don’t. A: The girls just have to really want it. We can tell them how to do something, but ultimately they have to try it themselves. S: You can give tips but you can’t teach it. You’re basically standing on your board alone and a trick feels different for everyone. But you can learn a lot from watching and riding with other people so I think it’s vital that the girls find a crew in their home after this camp.
Do you think it's agood thing to hold special girls camps?
S: Definitely. When girls start skateboarding they’re scared of guys, so it’s good to be just with girls. My ideal idea would be a camp with skater, surfer and snowboard girls though, where they can learn from each other. A: And share their experiences.
What’s your personal experience with guys on the streets?
S: When you start skating, the most important thing is to have a crew of good skaters who encourage you to try stuff. I’m very happy I had such guys in my life and they have always told me ‘come on, you can do this’. Without my crew I wouldn’t be in skateboarding any more. Apart from family and friends, skateboarding is the most important thing in my life and I love it more than anything else in the world. A: The most important thing in the beginning is to keep on going, don’t let other people get you down. Never give up, especially not when you get injured!
When did you decide that skateboarding going to be more than a hobby?
S: I think that was on the first day. When I started skateboarding [10 years ago], the sport was not accepted at all. Everyone was giving you shit and it was difficult to keep it up. So it was more of a lifestyle than just a hobby from the beginning. It’s the best thing ever, better than an orgasm.
How much time do you spend on your deck?
S: When I started I used to skate all day, I even sneaked out of the house at nights. But now I have a fulltime job so I only have time to skate once or twice a week. I work in a skate shop, which makes it especially hard because I talk about skateboarding all day long but don’t get to do it myself. A: I just try to skate as much as I can.
Especially when you start skateboarding, the fear to get hurt is a big problem. How do you deal with that?
S: Life itself is hurtful, so when you get hurt you know that you're alive. Life puts you down all the time and skateboarding can as well, though the difference is that skating also gets you back up. A: The longer you stand in front of something you’re afraid to do, the stronger the fear becomes. When I stand there too long I have to turn away and get my mind on something else. Then I turn back and do it straight away. Quick decision. S: Just be stupid. Drink beer and don’t think about it too much. A: The problem is, the older you get the more you think about stuff. S: That’s true. When I started skateboarding I used to do tricks all the way just riding to the spot I actually wanted to skate. By now I’ve already had so many injuries that I rather just to go to the spot and skate there because I don’t want to hurt myself for nothing. I actually don’t like to think like that way at all but sometimes you just can’t stop your head.
Do you personally prefer street skating or contests?
A: Contests are fun because you see old friends and have some good sessions, but often there are too many people on the course and you have to queue up a lot. S: I always prefer the street. But I like to go to contests too to meet people I only see once or twice a year, that’s very exciting and you have a good time together. A: And there’s always the competition side with people studying their run over and over again...
Are you very ambitious in contests?
S: Ambition is an important thing in life but in contests I just do my run and if it’s good, that’s nice but if it’s not, that’s okay too. You can’t really judge how good someone skates just from a contest, that’s only luck. To really know you would need to spend a week with them in the streets. A: I totally agree with that. The other side is that a contest can also really motivate you to try something new.
What’s your inspiration?
S: My inspiration in life is my friends and my family… and beer! In skateboarding I get inspired by Elissa Steamer, the fact that there are no limits because even if you don’t stick a trick you can always try and that you meet so many people through skateboarding. And of course the adrenaline rushing through your body can be very inspiring too. A: For me it’s basically the same, especially the friends I started skating with inspire me a lot.
Do you have an idol in skating?
A: I don’t watch many movies so it’s mainly the people I skate with. But there’s a guy from my hometown Aurich who showed me transitions, he’s definitely someone I look up to.
What are your goals in skateboarding?
A: Keep standing on a skateboard as long as I can. S: And keep the love for skateboarding alive. I want to give something back to the people who supported me all those years.
Did you have any big set backs yet?
A: My biggest set back was when I tore the cross ligaments and meniscus in my knee. I had to stop skating for a whole year, that was a really hard time.
How did you get through that?
S: Beer! (both laugh) A: Yeah. And I kept on going to see my crew skateboarding. It’s really hard to do that when you can’t skate yourself but you need to keep in contact with them. S: If you can’t handle the prospect of getting injured you have to pick a less dangerous sport like ballet or something. You know you can get hurt from the beginning and if you don’t realise that you should stay out of it. As easy as that.
On the other hand, what highlights have you experienced so far?
S: The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen was Ogi De Souza. He has no legs but still does smith grinds on rails or kickflips on banks, only with his hands! I’m really not a softy [her piercing and tattooed sleeve clearly prove that] but that touched me so much I started to cry. That taught me that the most important thing is always to be down with skateboarding and try stuff because everything is possible. A: For me highlights can be tricks you finally stick or a competition you win, they can be everywhere. My personal ones so far were the first hand rail I skated and the mega ramp in London. I’ve always wanted to do that. It was scary but I had so much adrenaline in my blood that it was just amazing.
What's next for you two?
S: Finish my traineeship in wholesale at Trap Skateboards and get some work experience. And in a couple of years I want to open up my own brewery with my best friend. A: I will finish my A-levels next year. After that I’m not sure yet but I would love to work as a photographer or writer for a magazine.
After the camp the girls headed on to Paris for a girls tour with German skaterboarders. Stay posted for more news on that soon!