What started off as some sort of pipe dream is now an initiative attracting riders from the four corners of the world – the Women’s Longboard Camp project is in its fifth year. To celebrate, the crew around Fee Bücheler and Christine Maier are putting on three events of three different formats in three different countries in 2016.
For Simone Brutsche, the upcoming freeride camp in France will be the fifth WLC event she is attending. Read on to find out what makes her tick and what motivates her to come back time and time again.
Interview with Simone Brutsche
Hi Simone, please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do for a living and which other sports do you engage in?
My name is Simone and I am 30 years old. I started skating at the of age 26. I originally come from Freiburg in Germany, but I’ve been living in Switzerland for the past 17 years. I work as a consultant in one of the biggest advertising agencies in the North West. Sports are very important to me, it’s how I offset a sedentary day job. For the past 9 years, I have been practising capoeira several times a week – it’s great for flexibility and in turn complements board sports really well. At the weekend I go running, longboarding and skateboarding. Apart from that, I cycle every day, in almost every weather.
How did you get into skating?
To lure my godson, who was six at the time, away from the TV, I gave him a skateboard for his birthday. Obviously this made me the coolest auntie with the coolest present. When we went to a nearby ramp that day, I could hardly wait for him to put down the board so I could have a go myself. Bottom line is, I ended up spending more time on the board than him that day and that’s when I decided to get one myself. I did some research and decided to get a longboard. Unfortunately my godson went down the scooter route, however as for me, I discovered a new hobby.
What do you like most about skating and what kind of skating do you enjoy most?
It quickly became obvious that I’m not so much of a dancer, I like to get a bit gnarly. I really enjoy sliding, proper downhill is still a bit too hardcore for me though. I’ve also discovered bowlriding or well, skateboarding, this year. I find it fascinating how skating is a lot about dealing with fears and how you have to overcome them time and time again in order to make progress. I’ve never had jelly legs and palpitations as bad as when I’ve been on my board. If you then land a new trick or learn a new skill, that makes for a combination that is simply addictive.
How did you end up at WLC?
Phew, that’s such a long time ago now…the first time I came to the camp was in 2013. I think I discovered it through our local longboarding group on Facebook at the time. It sounded great and I was curious, so I signed up.
This August will be your fifth time at the camp – what motivates you to keep coming back time and time again? Are your reasons still the same or has anything changed over the years?
Initially it definitely was only about longboarding. I was impressed by how much progress could be made in such a short amount of time with the help from the crew and a bit of perseverance. Once I had grown fond of both the crew as well as the riders you meet each time, it wasn’t just about the sport anymore. At the very latest since Portugal, some great friendships have formed and now the camp is like going on holiday with friends for me, something to which you look forward like crazy long in advance, with heaps of fun on the board.
What’s your favourite thing about the Women’s Longboard Camp?
I love the community spirit among the girls. Every single one – no matter how different we may be – receives a very warm welcome and is integrated into the group, there is no reserve and when you’re on board together, you support each other and celebrate everybody’s successes as if they were your own. In every day life and at work, you sometimes face bitchiness and competition among women, it’s not like that at all at the camp. I also think it’s great to meet like-minded people from different countries. The riders are not only from German-speaking countries, but often from Finland, Poland, the USA, the UK etc.
With what sort of mindset do you enter WLC, do you set yourself specific goals you’d like to achieve in terms of skills?
For the most part I’d simply like to improve – generally speaking, with everything I do without any specific goals. It’s a lot about overcoming fears. In that respect, my aim is to progress just a little – baby steps. But it always ends up being a massive leap forwards. Sometimes I set myself goals for a specific day, for instance at the last camp in Stuttgart. All of a sudden I just really wanted to be able to drop in on a ramp, even though I’d only ridden a skateboard a couple of times before then. In the few weeks prior I wouldn’t even have dreamed of that. But almost as soon as the goal was set, I had smashed it. Christine from the WLC crew prepped me extremely well with some progressions and encouraged me to just do it. She gave me a helping hand 3-4 times and was so stoked when I finally managed to do it on my own.
How would you evaluate your progress over the years?
Hm, I tend to be quite modest so I’m cautious to comment on my own progress. What I can say without a doubt is that I feel so much safer on my board after each camp. However, there are days when it simply flows and then there are days, or at least hours, where you feel like you can’t do anything right. If you then change just a little something – unfortunately you often don’t realise what it is that’s going wrong – at least that’s how it goes for me, which is why I am then very grateful for the crew’s advice and tips – it all goes swimmingly again. I notice that all of a sudden I have the confidence to try things on my board which until recently seemed just impossible and so far away. Also, I’ve never been as proud of myself as I have been after my first few hours on a skateboard, and that really means something.
What do you benefit most from at WLC and how do these experiences translate into other areas of your life?
I’ve had ignorant comments like “Jeez, you’re a 30 year old woman, skating is for little boys!” on several occasions. Accordingly, I’ve felt somewhat uncomfortable in public. You meet so many like-minded people of a similar age at the camp that you walk away with a very different type of self-confidence. Because you considerably improve your skills and develop more confidence, you move differently on the road – both on and off the board. I also notice that capoeira and board sports complement each other well. Due to capoeira my balance is above average I would say; skating also contributes to this and I think that this also gives me an edge at capoeira. The social element has also triggered quite something in me: I feel more at ease to get chatting to strangers, especially other skaters, and am generally more open.
Womens-only events are often associated with bitchiness etc. At WLC however we witness time and time again how total strangers from all ages and walks of life become friends within a short amount of time.
What’s your experience with this and what do you put this down to?
Personally I’ve never experienced any form of bitchiness at any of the camps I’ve been to. Sure, depending on how many girls there are, you spend more time with some than with others, but ultimately we are one big family. When the workshop groups are mixed up, it’s always really nice to see how everybody’s in such a good mood and you grow really fond of each other even though you may struggle to remember all the names. As I said before, by now some really good friendships have formed and you share more than just this hobby. You make plans for the year, such as attending the next camp together for example. To me the good vibe is down to the fact that we’re all in the same boat so to speak, there is a mutual understanding of where everybody’s at and riders of different levels support each other – it’s rewarding to pass on that knowledge. You gladly accept tips from the more advanced riders and it’s always so nice how everyone is so genuinely stoked on others’ achievements. It forges a really strong bond. Maybe it also helps that we’re all of the same kind so to speak and not really the type of girly girl who doesn’t like to get dirty.
Would you sign up to a mixed camp?
Yes, I’d be quite curious and I’d like to give that a go. Because there’s not really that much going on in the longboard scene my town, I mostly ride with younger guys. Again there are no issues breaking the ice and you just support each other.
Let’s talk about overcoming fears through action and extreme sports. How do you deal with that?
This is indeed a big deal for me. It mainly happens in your head and you’re often your own worst enemy by not trusting yourself to do something and therefore limiting your possibilities. By now I have such faith in the WLC crew, if they tell me that I’m ready to try a new trick or something, I’ll just give it a go. Often you get obsessed with fear and it’s mind over matter if you think about it too much. Therefore I go with the just do it approach.
Last but not least – is there anything else you’d like to say on this subject?
I’ve already said so much…in any case I hope that there will be many more camps! It’s such a great initiative and many women don’t have this supportive environment to keep going in such a male-dominated sport. The camps have given me such a big push and also strengthened my confidence on the board, I wish all other WLC riders the same.
Thanks so much Simone! We are super stoked on this, and it’s feedback like yours that keeps us amped when the going gets tough every now and again. We cannot wait to see you and our other rad WLC riders in France next month! We still have some spaces available so if you’re feeling radically spontaneous, come and join us!
For more info visit: https://hello9397.wix.com/wlcfreeride
International, small but mighty skate collective boasting a well-established all female instructor crew, organising longboarding camps, events and workshops for women.