Jolanda is a superfast Swiss lady and was a 2 time World Champion before retiring 3 years ago. She already has two podium finishes to her name this season. Read on to find out more about this woman who has ridden the same board for 10 years!
Hello Jolanda, where are you from?
I’m from Switzerland! Central Switzerland, near Lucerne. In the middle of the Swiss Alps, and therefore near to the big mountain passes!
When did you start skating?
I’ve been skateboarding for a long time. But I started as a young girl at about 7 years old. I can’t say it was real skateboarding. It was more like buttboarding. But very fast buttboarding in front of our house. I always had big battles with my two brothers in this ‘discipline’. But I stopped that thing when I dented my teeth. But of course a while later I found the passion again on my skateboard.
Have you always skated near Lucerne?
I think one of my first sessions was in Dallenwil, (I think every skater knows which road I mean). That’s not directly in Lucerne but near enough. In Lucerne, we have a small road served by a cable car. It is so much fun, you can go down, go up and skate the whole day. I really like the Swiss passes! They are much longer, more technical and almost nobody else is there. Early in the morning you can skate almost 60 km till the daily traffic comes. That’s more than other people ride the whole weekend.
When did you start riding longboards?
I was about 14. My brother was the important person who took me to several underground skate sessions in the Swiss Alps. That was really crazy because our parents didn’t know what are we doing there. These sessions were called fullmoonrides! You can’t imagine that, almost 50 skaters in the night on a swiss mountain pass and all are skating the whole night.
Does your brother still skate?
Not really often! He is 33 years old now and is the owner of a business and is very busy and has a lot of other things to do. But without him, I wouldn’t skate now! He took me to my first downhill event in 2004. It was Almabtrieb in Germany.
Do you still ride with the full moon gang?
No, in the last 2-3 years I haven’t done much skateboarding. Because I was very busy with my studies. I had a lot of work and did many things at the same time. And therefore, I had almost no time to skate and the full-moon sessions were always really exhauting. We were skating the whole night and when the sun comes up, you go home and have to work, without any sleep!
But I still ride with some of these people but we do only day sessions now. They are pretty good skaters but not famous like other skaters, because they didn’t participate at the events of IGSA. They are a big support for me. They always want me to be very fast!
Who organised these sessions?
I think it was our club. The Streetsurfclub Lucerne (that was an association of longboarders who shared the passion of longboarding). Now it’s just a small group of skaters. And ohhh yes, it was also the skateboard company ‘Summit’! I think those were the people who organised at about 2002 such sessions.
At the beginning there were plenty of skaters in Lucerne but now I think there are just 5-10 people who are still skateboarding. You can’t say it was organised, but everybody knew that there was a session. Otherwise you had problems with the police in Switzerland when you say it’s organised by somebody!
Which ones do you still ride with?
Michael Wechsler, Linus Wieland and Jonas Elmiger from Lucerne and other guys from neighbourhoods around Lucerne. In 2008-2009 with Frank Uhlmann and sometimes with Martin Siegrist. And of course with my brother Bruno Vogler and a good friend Rico Wenger from Lungern, where I live. They pushed me from the beginning.
What is your role in Streetsurfclub?
Good question. At the moment I really don’t know if the streetsurfclub as a club exists. But I was definitely the only girl who was in that club, who skated with the whole bunch of men.
Is it an association?
Yeah you can call them an association. You’ll find it on Facebook.
Do you have a crew?
Mostly I ride on my own. Or with 2-3 people from Lucerne. Sometimes with Martin Siegrist, Michael Wechsler and the whole Lucerne crew and a few weeks ago, I was riding with the Airflow team in Graubünden. I like sessions with less people. Because I don’t want to be talking all the time, I want to skate! Haha.
How was your first downhill event?
Oh that was Altbüron, 2004. It was amazing! Looking back, I would say I couldn’t skate then but I had so much fun on my skateboard. Back then Angelina Nobre from France was the real professional woman skateboarder who I always looked up to, and she was there!
Who is Angelina?
You don’t know Angelina Nobre?!!! FAIL! Haha. She was (and I think she still is) a very good skater from France. She showed me that women can also be fast! And that was the point. That was in 2004. I can’t remember, but I don’t think we had YouTube then and therefore I hadn’t seen any girls before which skated that fast! Actually I can’t remember if she was that fast, but for me she was and is she a good female downhill skater.
Was there a women’s category in your first race?
I think there was.
Does she still skate?
She’s got two children now. I saw her in Peyragudes a few weeks ago, but we had no time to talk about skateboarding. So I actually don’t know if she is still skateboarding or not! But I saw her on the buttboard! That’s a good beginning of a comeback! (Maybe she’s reading this and will follow my words to come back? Haha.
How did she influence you?
At this point, she was very fast and I always wanted to be fast too! And in 2006 I won the final at the World Championships against her, that made me very happy because I saw that I had upgraded my style!
Were there many women racing in Europe then?
No! Sarah Hodel, Bettina Luginbühl and two Swedish girls (I forgot their names, sorry!). Also the German girls: Uta Hang, Karin Feldbaum, Fee Bücheler and Anja Braun.
You always had to race against the men?
No! And that was the problem! We had a separate category, but there were no women in this category! So I couldn’t race against other women, or you can say I couldn’t get any variety in racing! And maybe that was the point (3 years ago) why I stopped racing. Because it was always the same and it was sometimes really boring racing against the same 3-4 girls. They skated well, but it was not the same like in the men’s category! I really missed that! But now has it changed!
What do you ride?
At the moment I’m riding Magun Trucks and my 10 year old board from Magun. Yes! 10 years old, I’m still riding this board because it tells the history of how everything began for me. The first person who rode this board was my brother and after 2 years, I started to ride this board. And with this board I won several races in my career. That’s why I still ride it. Magun is my biggest sponsor, and a very good friend who supports me with good advice and his positive thinking. And that, for me, is the best and most important support you can have. I haven’t had a lot of sponsors. Maybe I was too shy to take something I hadn’t paid for.
Wheels: I’m riding Abec 11. Most of the time Flywheels. I like them so much and I know this wheel more than any other wheel! But I’m not sponsored yet by Abec 11, maybe I’ll get a sponsor contract soon. :- )
When did you join the Magun family?
From the beginning! I think he was the first person I met in this downhill family! And that was my good fortune. I really like the Magun Trucks and therefore, I had good skateboard equipment from the very beginning. While other people skated with trucks you shouldn’t skate downhill with.
What was the experience like?
It was my first downhill skateboard race. But it wasn’t that special. Because at this time, I had participated in several boardercross races and therefore it wasn’t that special because I knew what it was like to race! You know? But I like the feeling of battling against other men and women. The problem then was, that most of the races had just 4-5 women. And that was not so much fun compared to this season in Kozakov, Peyragudes and Teolo. There we were about 15 ladys!
When did things start to change?
I don’t know. Maybe it was during the time I didn’t participate. I was really surprised how many female skaters we were in this euro tour! And of course from Canada and Australia too! And that was so much fun to skate on a high level with these girls!
Did you skate at all during your time off?
Not much! Maybe two or three times a season. And that’s not often. So I’m so happy to see that I can battle on almost the same level with these girls. And with men too. That was such an interesting experience, now ride with the open class if we get a good qualification time. Or otherwise we can skate in the repechage with other men. So it’s not even just important to ride and compete with other girls it’s also important to battle against the men. Because they are more aggressive! And I think that’s a point all girls can learn from men! Sometimes we are too nice.
Did you keep your eye on the scene?
What did you miss most?
The people! Definitely. I’m not a party girl when I have to skate the next day! Because I wanna be clear in my mind, if i’m going down fast! But we had a lot of good and fun parties with interesting and crazy guys. I think skaters are sometimes a different kind of people, especially compared to my other busy life as a sports teacher. It’s a good variety to my life!
What do you like about racing against other women?
I can directly see, if i’ve improved myself or not! In Kozakov we had a funny film run with all girls together. And to see how good all ladies were. That’s really impressive for me! But it would be more fun if we were not just 15 girls, but 25-30 girls!
Why did you decide to come back?
In winter 2012, I was fed up with my boring life and studying! And then I asked myself, what was it, what my life makes boring? I concluded that it was the abstinence from skateboarding. And therefore I decided to come back! And here I am.
What have you been studying?
I got a MSc in sport science from the University of Bern. And therefore I’m working now as a sport teacher in a school. The best thing here is that I can teach children skateboarding too!
Bern! That’s where Bekks is from, do you guys ride together?
I’ve never been riding with Bekks in my leisure time! I know switzerland isn’t that big, but sometimes when you have almost no time, it’s difficult to have skate sessions together. But I hope that will change in the future.
Did you do many other races in 2004?
Just Altbüron and Almabtrieb. I met all these talented men. Darryl Freeman, Stuart Bradburn and other talented French guys. Back then, the French and Martin Siegrist dominated the scene! But that was a long time ago and I was really young then.
How was the 2006 season for you?
It was very special to win the World Championship in Tomils, Switzerland. Not a few people can say that they have won a World Championship. I think that was when ladies were respected in downhill skateboarding! I had that feeling. And in 2006, we made a trip to Sweden! That was the first time I was skating for more than one month without interruption. Then I became acquainted with the skateboarding scene and I felt the whole dynamic of it.
What did it take to become world champion?
I think at first you need luck, then a good mental toughness and a lot of training and pleasure in what are you doing. (Pleasure is the most important thing). One guy told me this year that I shouldn’t do everything that precise. Well that’s what I like, to be precise and to see that I can improve everything if I take it serious.
Was that the happiest moment in your skateboarding career?
I don’t think so. At this moment I was very happy. But nobody knew this sport at that time and therefore the appreciation wasn’t that strong. I think if I lived in Canada or in the USA, then a World Champion title has a bigger local value because everybody knows what skateboarding is. But in Switzerland it’s really difficult to be appreciated!
Why have the Swiss won more World Championships than any other European country?
Really? Well, whatever we are doing, we’re doing it really well. I think we’ve got very good infrastructure where we can train. And it doesn’t take you hours of driving with your car to get to your training location. We also have several good mountain passes for skateboarding, so that helps!
How did becoming World Champion in 2006 change life for you?
It didn’t change my life at all. In 2006, I began my studies in Sports Science and at the university you are just a number. You are not a person, just a number.
Starting 2007 as World Champion, did you feel any pressure?
Yes, I did. Of course. So I skated hard in 2007, and fortunately I won the world championship again.
In 2007, you and Martin were world champions, a double for Switzerland. Since then we haven’t had a European champ. Why do you think this is?
In 2006 too! Both seasons we had a double win!
Martin was on the Magun team too. And we discussed very often about our equipment, about our wheels, oil for bearings and the perfect line. I think we were both very focused on riding the best line at races. And of course we all know that Martin is a good skater and what he’s riding is certainly good. And I looked up to Martin, of course.
But I think now the style has changed. We were always focusing on the best line, but at the moment you have to be an all round skater! Not just looking for the best line, but you should also be able to slide. And I think these people who are riding for the whole day have an advantage (most of them are amazing sliders and pool skaters)! We know several pro skaters from Canada, Usa, Australia, but do you know any pro skaters from Switzerland? Our sponsoring system in Europe is different and therefore, we’re not at this skateboarding level in Switzerland like the others are! That’s my opinion! And in 2004-2008 we had almost every World Championship in Europe. But now everything is out of Europe and that’s maybe another reason no more Europeans have won the World Championship.
You’ve got lots of great pro skaters there! Batt, Martin, Robert, Ramon, Rufli, Bekks etc etc! Most of the media is based in these other countries, so it appears there are more of them. But now that we have a growing European Stoke site, then of course the profile of European skaters will rise! I think we are as good as anyone else in the world!
Yes we are!
How did you get ready for your 2012 return?
Good question. I think it was more a mental preparation than a physical preparation. I didn’t skate much in Spring. But I knew that I had to be fast this year. And I watched several films of the current best skaters. And my father gave me a shuttle to a swiss mountain pass a few times to skate. That was very good. When I’m skating alone, then I’m much more focused on the street and I can control what I’m doing.
How has this season gone so far for you?
Well in Kozakov I had a very good time for qualification but I’ve never ridden in the rain. So you can imagine how my result was.
But I won the World Cup race in Teolo. That was very impressive, to win such a big race after a long time of not skateboarding. And I was second at the World Cup race in Switzerland.
What are your plans for the rest of the season?
I’m going to Calgary and then I’ll see what I’m doing after that. I hope winter doesn’t come too early, so I can skate for a long time in the autumn. Maybe I’ll be going to freerides or I’ll learn pool skating. We have an amazing pool about 20 minutes from where I live.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-39.
1, 2, 3
1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate?
A helmet, pleasure and my skateboard!!!!
2 – Would you rather have a hook for a hand or a wheel for a foot?
What a question….a wheel for a foot!!!!!
3 – What impact has longboarding had on your life?
I met a lot of amazing people that I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t skate.
That was so much fun buddy! It was great talking to you. Good luck in Calgary and do us proud.
Thanks so much for this interview! I think that was my first interview. Thanks a lot I’ll give my best, for sure.
Any thank yous?
Big thank to Magun and all the people who support me all the time and believe in me.