Featured Rider: Paloma Acha

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Stoked to go back to Madrid for a rad conversation with Golden haired Riviera Skateboarder – Paloma! She tells us about getting back up from big falls, chasing your dream and Jamón Serrano.

just me. no creditsHello Paloma! How are you?
Doing great this morning, and you?

Great! How was your week?
I’m kind of busy with my studies now, had a couple of exams.

What are you learning?
I’m about to finish my degree in English Studies & French as a third language. Hopefully I’ll graduate this September. Fingers crossed!

Any big plans for after?
Huge plans! So big that all I’m trying to do is not to think about it until the day comes.
I’ll be focusing once and for all in longboarding and hope to finally offer the best of me with no distractions. I’ll join the racing season more in depth this year and I plan on moving abroad once I have my degree.

You’re leaving paradise?
If by paradise you mean my country, I agree but not completely. Unfortunately, in terms of professional careers for graduates, Spain is hopeless nowadays because of the economic crisis. Unemployment rates are quite high. Also living abroad gives you more experience at all levels.

Carmen Shafer and I. pic in South California by Alicia Fillback
Carmen Shafer and I. pic in South California by Alicia Fillback

Where do you want to move to?
Canada or the U.S. has always been my plan. People who know me well, know that I want to live in an English speaking country. The English culture has always been my thing and I feel more comfortable with it. I am not the typical Spanish girl, even though I love Spain with all my heart. My brother is now in Australia and I have been considering on moving there as well, at least for a while, but Australia is too far.

How are you different?
Not a single person that I have encountered can tell that I am Spanish from my appearance. In terms of personality, I guess Spanish morality and way of doing things is so calm and sometimes without commitment. That stresses me a little bit.

Jamon or Bacon?
Haha. That is a good one. I guess you can tell that I am Spanish by that. Jamón Serrano. Always.

If you leave, Oriol will be the only blonde left in Spain!
I guess, he’ll be the one haha. But the scene is growing, so there will be other blondies to cheer it up.

When did you start skating?
I started skating three years and a half ago in my hometown, Madrid. Seems like yesterday but I’m enjoying it more.

Laura Guancha and I at a local spot credits to Luca Pallucchini
Laura Guancha and I at a local spot credits to Luca Pallucchini

What do you enjoy most about it?
What I enjoy the most about skating is that for me implies going to the mountains. I always loved nature. I might relate going to skate to the same feeling when you were sent to a summer camp or an excursion to the countryside when you were little, so skating might be the alternative in my adult life. I love every feeling from the first moment that you discuss with all your homies the distribution in cars, till we get to the spot that we are going to skate that day, till the moment you start picking wheels, the camping, the homeless luggage, when you get to choose some jeans to wear and you realize you have not a single one that isn’t scratched and broken, the laughs, the falls and fails, the freedom, the air, the insects smashing into your face when skating, the amazing views on top of the hill, the freedom, the exhausting walking up the hill or the hitchhiking for shuttles for that matter, the sunsets… It is an infinite list of feelings and incidents

How long after you picked up a board did the mountains call you?
The mountains always called me. I was raised in the countryside till I turned 5, when my mom decided that I was becoming too wild and that we needed to go back to town. I was a girl scout for like 2 years and spent a lot of time looking for adventure. I’ve always prefered the mountains because the beach is not made for a radioactive pale skin like mine. I don’t enjoy sunbathing that much.

Who were you skating with in your early days?
Well, thanks to the social connection created by the local shop where I bought my first board, I got to start hanging out with the people who skated the most in Madrid. Back then it was Luis Villamill and Rafa Garrido (my current team mate) who introduced me to the scene. We used to hang out with people in Retiro Park who taught me how to throw my first slides.

What’s the most important thing you learnt from them?
Sharing and support. It was thanks to them that I got my first gloves and my first board. I used to say that my sponsors were my friends.

Local spot 2014 pic by Noelia Otegia & DHLC
Local spot 2014 pic by Noelia Otegia & DHLC

What’s the Madrid community like?
Lively and skilled, generally speaking. However, I can only talk about the downhill scene, which I consider relatively small.

Do you have any mountains near Madrid?
Yes, the north of Madrid is formed by the different mountain ranges of Madrid (2,428m the highest peak) where we normally go for training. However, we usually drive an hour and a half away from our province depending on the spot or area that we want to skate that day, which I don’t mind doing at all. I love driving, even more if it’s for a skating adventure.

What was the first event you went to?
The first event I went to was La Muela Freeride 2012 just for girls, organized by Longboard Girls Crew in a city 306km away from mine. I remember I decided to go on my own, without knowing anybody, but that was the best of it. I had only been skating for two months then. When I experienced going downhill for the first time and since then, I can’t think of doing anything else. Besides, the environment we were involved in during that weekend was amazing and many girls that I met there are one of my closest friends nowadays, such as Noelia Otegui.

Noelia Otegui and I credits to Mike Molinares
Noelia Otegui and I credits to Mike Molinares


Who is Noe
?
Noe is a very special person. She is the best longboard photographer in Spain. She was also my footbrake mentor. Noe is the one helping me with most of my media for my sponsors and she is killing it.

Had you skated with women before La Muela?
It isn’t something that I keep doing much except for this girl, Alejandra Cárdenas, who is my best companion and my lady shredder. With her I skate a lot.
Nevertheless, I normally skate with guys. When I started skating there was one girl I used to look up to, because she was the only downhill rider in my hometown. She was Sonso Masiá and thanks to her I had the guts I needed to to defend this discipline above all.

How did meeting Sonsoles impact you?
This is shown of what I’ve became now; a rider who never gives up, no matter how difficult things might turn into. I learnt that shit happens and you have to deal with it, always knowing your limits and being you who controls the board and not the other way round.

Did you do much skating after La Muela that year?
Yes, I did. In fact, a few months after La Muela, I attended the sickest freeride event ever hosted in Spain. However, I wasn’t taking the proper steps to get into the downhill discipline and it was during my summer vacation in Mallorca that I broke my foot in three parts.

1st La Muela . 1st runs in my life. Credits to Wau Films
1st La Muela . 1st runs in my life. Credits to Wau Films

Ouch! What happened?
I was cruising around with a friend. We stopped in this very steep road to take some pictures. I was doing a toeside drift when my board turned around and broke my foot.

Were you skating beyond your limits?
Maybe. It wasn’t the most appropriated road  but I wasn’t pushing my limits. Actually, I thought it was just another crash till the moment I tried to stand up and realized I couldn’t walk.

Did you learn anything from that experience?
I learnt how to be more patient. Because it took me almost 5 months until I was able to skate again. Also I realized that I haven’t learnt the basics to actually face the extreme sport that I was willing to keep doing.

How did you come back from that?
I had to stand much yelling form everybody; family, closest friends… how crazy I was for doing that sport. (If they ever considered it the sport that it is) They thought it was just another phase I was going through as a hobby. It was then where I started to rebel against anyone who tried to stop me.

Have their attitudes changed?
This year, they are starting to understand that it’s not just a hobby anymore but a way of living. It took me another injury to show them that I was into this for real.

2nd la muela freeride. credits to Toño García
2nd la muela freeride. credits to Toño García

Why did you get injured AGAIN?
Two summers in a row, haha. When I got back from my first injury, I was so excited, that I couldn’t help but going to as many freeride events as I could. I went to La Muela again, some other freerides in France and Cataluña but there was this huge event going on in Alicante who turned out to be a total massacre for many people because many of the riders didn’t have the required level to skate such a road. Porn road.
That was my case. This time I admit going beyond my limits, as my legs started to get so tired of tucking that in an attempt to do a little bit of air break, my board started to speed wobbe, throwing me against the wall of the hill. It took a while for the course marshals to realize what happened to me, because it was a blind corner and nobody could see me. I crashed in the worst part I could have crashed along the whole course, no protection and the fastest part of the track, after a speedy chicane. I was lying on the floor with no sense at all in my arm. When the ambulance came, they had to cut my leathers in order to be able to work on me. They said that I needed surgery which, thank god, I was able to avoid.

Did your mom know what happened?
She became pretty mad because I was afraid of telling her the day that happened. It was a three day event and it happened the second. So it wasn’t until the next day, two hours before arriving to Madrid that I called her to tell what had happened. We had a wedding in September and I had to buy a dress, so in order to punish me, she took me shopping the next day and made me try all the dresses that ever existed in the world with my robocop cast from shoulder to wrist. Epic.

How long did this recovery take?
A total of three and a half months. Three weeks wearing the cast. A month with an arm orthopedics and two more months to recover my strength to the fullest. During my recovery, I couldn’t stop away from the scene so I attended several events, volunteered to the organization and wrote many chronicles.

Freeride Salzadella 2014 credits to Arc Leathers
Freeride Salzadella 2014 credits to Arc Leathers

What was the most difficult thing to deal with in those 3 months?
The most difficult thing to deal with was my mom’s opposition. Both injuries affected my studies, that is the main reason why she was crazy about it. This time I was more scared of coming back to skate. Everyone trying to convince me to give up. But thanks to a friend of mine who started giving me some longboarding lessons to go back to the basics, I came back stronger and more prepared than ever. I had finally learned to see where my limits were at, and achieved total control of my board. It is interesting to say that I have spent the same time injured and skating hehe Everything happens for a reason.

When did you skate at event after recovery?
My first comeback was a trip all the Spanish girls did to Salsito House but I was pretty green then. I skated all the winter in my local spots, training really hard to be ready for the season. I got a job in order to pay for my skate trips and spending every single weekend visiting friends and skating all around in Spain. I went to Titaguas Freeride. to O’Inferno Freeride as well. I went to Navarcles freeride and spent some days with Axel Serrat in Barcelona. I saved money to make it to KNK in Slovenia. And I decided to start racing that summer for the first time. So I made it to the national french cup in La Pierre de Saint-Martin, being the only girl at the event. After that, I went to Salzadella freeride in September to warm up in speed as in October I made it to my first IDF race in Colombia at Festival de la Bajada. It was definitely my best skating year so far and where I started to experience real improvement.

pic at Tuixent 2012. My second dh event in my life. credits to Andrés Martínez
pic at Tuixent 2012. My second dh event in my life. credits to Andrés Martínez

What’s your favourite Spanish freeride?
Such a difficult question. Depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for real speed; Salzadella. My close friends from Ridersfly are impeccable at freeride organizing. In terms of fun, laughs and party; Titaguas & Navarcles. And if you are looking for a technical course I’d say O’Inferno; that freeride is just magical. But new ones had been going on this year that I could not attend…

How was KnK?
Wild. Total freedom. I also joined the best Spanish crew I could travel with and they were the main reason to make that trip so successful. The spot/camping site was savage. All green, with morning swims in the river, rad track, great people and so many shots of Slivo.

Who did you travel with?
I traveled with Alex, Ripo and Marcos from L’horta Sud Down Road Crew. Some downhill friend riders from Valencia. Just the best choice I could ever made.

DUDE! You went all the way to COLOMBIA!
Yes. I made it to Colombia. It was basically Camilo Cespedes’ persuasion and my love for seeking the adventure and traveling to make it possible. I am super glad I did all I could to make that happen.

Festival de la bajada 2014
Festival de la bajada 2014

How was Bogota?
Such an amazing experience! Camilo’s hospitality was probably what made the trip so welcoming and friendly.
This trip came with a surprise. Everybody was expecting to race in the well-known track at Parque Nacional in the centre of the city. It is a track that locals normally skate. However, something happened with permits in the late minute and the organization had to bring the race somewhere else. The location was an hour from Bogotá and the track was twice the length of the previous one. In addition, much more technical and rough haha.

Did you have fun at the race?
Oh yes! That was my one and only purpose for that trip. Because It was my second time racing ever. I was overwhelmed but I did not want to panic, so I decided to focused on having fun, meeting new people and enjoy every single run.

What did you take away from your experience in that country?
I learned a lot from every single person along the trip. I met wonderful people and they treated me so well. I can’t wait to have the chance to do the same for them.
I remember this local family, at the top of the hill, selling homemade food and drinks. They had 3 little girls who got really attached to me somehow. They tried, for the first time, riding my board with my help. From that moment onwards, I had 3 little assistants for the rest of the event. Everyday, they brought me silver flowers and they wished me luck in every run I did. They carried my board, my helmet, my gloves wherever I needed to bring them to.The last day, they gave me some handmade figurines and lots of sweets with a letter telling me how much they love me. When the time to say goodbye arrived, the three little girls started crying and their mom with tears in her eyes thanked me for being so nice to them. While it was me the one who actually had to be thankful for all the love those little girls gave me along the weekend. They brought me good luck. So probably humanity and compassion are the things I would like to highlight.

Unai or Dai
Unai or Dai

That’s so sweet. What were you riding then?
I was riding my sick blue wolf! The Dubes Special (Riviera Skateboards downhill serie) At the beginning I was a bit scared of the track and also because I wasn’t feeling prepared; I realized the wheels I brought, weren’t under any circumstance appropriate for the course. At the same time, I was feeling my trucks pretty loose in order to reach so much speed.

Did you die?
Haha nope. It was actually thanks to Spoky, Kyle and James who helped me setting up my trucks with new hardware. As well as Byron, Kevin and Patrick for lending me new sets of wheels that made my following runs more safe and comfortable. Forever grateful.
In fact, I didn’t die but make the 3rd place in podium haha.

Congrats! Where’ve you been to since then?
Back to Spain, I spent the entire winter studying, working, working out and skating. Once the first semester at university was over, I made an amazing trip with my friend Alejandra to Tenerife. The skating paradise. When I came back, Noelia and I attended ISPO 2014 and got to do some tourism in Munich. Back in Spain I had to work and save money again. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I made my dream come true by traveling to California, in order to meet the Riviera family crew and get to race at Catalina Island Classic 2015, as well as spending another week skating Southern California. Best experience ever!

Working in a skate shop?
No. I work for an agency, organizing and hosting congresses, conventions and other events.
Public relations & commercial skills with languages basically. 8 to 12 hours standing up wearing heels during 3 to 4 days in a row, depending on the event. That is what I call #ajobtopayskate It isn’t something that I’ll be doing my entire life, but at least related to the same area that I want to work in a future. And it’s an eventual job, which means that I can get to work the days I want being able to travel whenever I decide.

Skating Cali with team mate Andrew Schumaker
Skating Cali with team mate Andrew Schumaker

How did the California dream come true?
To be true, it hasn’t come true yet but part of it. First of all, just for the fact of actually getting there. Being able to participate in one of the raddest races ever like Catalina Island Classic. Besides, meeting Justin Reynolds (Riviera brand manager), who I’ve been in touch with for almost a year and seeing all the effort and love he has been putting in making that kind of event happening was something legit. The same for the rest of the Resource Dist. crew who made the best of my staying in Catalina, taking care of me and welcoming to the family. Apart from Catalina I had the chance of skating the most legendary Californian roads.

What was Catalina like compared to other events you’ve attended?
The phrase that I would use to describe it would be the D.I.Y. (Do it yourself) style. That is what makes the difference. Maybe it’s an already established American way of doing things but that surprised me among other things.
The funny & charming thing about Catalina is that you can’t plan anything. Randomness should be the continual state of mind while on the island. You are continually encountering so many people that whatever you had in mind to do, it will end up being a totally different thing.

What setup were you riding?
Kind of the same I used to but more customized. Dubes knew that I love my board but that I wanted to reduce the wheelbase distance, so he chopped a new one for me. At the same time, Joey Pulsifer gave me the most amazing present, letting me ride the Savants; the newest forged trucks that Paris is launching pretty soon. They also gave me some Timeship racing gloves, to which I added my beloved Ridersfly risers & crema pucks. For the wheels, I need to thank my local skate shop, as well as Amanda Powell and Ethan Cochard for helping me ride the purple Orangatan Kegels. My favourite wheels for downhill racing.

Catalina Island Classic 2015 credits to Suchy Photography
Catalina Island Classic 2015 credits to Suchy Photography

Are any of those your sponsors?
Currently, I count on the help of Riviera Skateboards as my main sponsor, as well as Toxic World shop to whom I can only be thankful for backing me up.

How did you guys hook up?
It was a year ago that I’ve been offered to ride for a brand whose boards didn’t suit my style. That made me realized that I didn’t want to skate with other boards different than mine, which was my Dubes Special. It was then that I decided to contact Riviera telling them what was happening, not expecting any response to the fact. But Justin contacted me, and liking my profile decided to welcome me to the family. Since then, I have been working really hard to represent the best board I have ever skated. As for my local shop, whose owners I have been very close to for a long time, decided to help me out in terms of gear and events as they also carry Riviera as a brand in their shop.

What’s special about the Dubes special?
That it is the simplest board in the market. No weird concaves and strange shapes. It fits my feet perfectly, the wood is really good quality and the design are sick. The wolf represents me. The interesting thing about it, is its w-concave. My first downhill board had a hand made w-concave, so when I saw that on that board, as well as its lightness and shape, it’s more like the board chose me and not the other way round.

You’re Toxic like Noe!
Yes, we are team mates!

Barcelona Trip 2014 credits to Axel Serrat
Barcelona Trip 2014 credits to Axel Serrat

What are your plans for this year?
First of all, I need to get over the exams I have in June. After that, I’m registered for a couple of freeride events in Spain, as well as part of the Eurotour; Salzadella DH and Kozakov Challenge. I’m also expecting to meet Riviera here in Spain for the exchange tour. For the rest of the summer, I have to finish my final project for university. In September, I might be going back to the States to race again. I’ll come back to Spain to defend my final project and hopefully, after that, making it to Brazil for some of the races there. Whenever I’m done with that, I’ll start considering the best part of the world to move to. So many things, as you can see. So I’d better live the present, reaching goal by goal and see what the world has for me to offer.

What will be the biggest decider for where to move to?
Work permits and visas, my dear friend.

Haha. Not sunshine, terrain or bacon?
I think about that as well, for sure. But that is why Canada or United States are my options. Big countries. Big opportunities.

BIG BACON! What do you do when you’re not skating?
I don’t party anymore as used to because I got used to waking up early on the weekends and going skating. However, I’m a music addict; I can’t live without it and I love dancing too. I also travel a lot. So basically when I’m not skating (nor studying, nor working or traveling) I love going to the movies because cinema is another passion. I watch a lot of series online. I love spending in gastronomy, so many cool places to go to in Madrid and delicious food. I enjoy culture a lot, if it’s urban/underground culture the better; theater, expositions, concerts, tandem meetings for language exchanges. Discovering my city, basically. That and having a good time with my family and friends, mostly.

Alicante 2014 credits to Javi Mon
Alicante 2014 credits to Javi Mon

Pick 3 numbers between 1-35.
I pick 2, 20 and 22 haha I love even numbers :)

2 – In a Zombie apocalypse, who would you wish to survive?
A huge list of Spanish politicians

20- If every job paid the same amount, what would you do?
Nowadays, I get paid a ridiculous amount of money just to be able to do what I like the most, which is traveling and skating. So I guess, I’ll stick to that. Which will comfort me knowing that at least in those circumstances, I’m not the foolest.

22 – Do you have any hidden talents?
Writing poems and any kind of thoughts.

Goldielocks! Thanks for all your time today. It’s been great chatting. See you again soon!

Any last words?
Love it or leave it. Dh for fun! Always!

Links.

Instagram: https://instagram.com/palaxa @palaxa
Facebook: Palaxa Golden

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