Featured rider: Valeria Kechichian

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Long overdue conversation with super famous LGC co-founder – Valeria. She tells us about her travels around the world, her upcoming adventure in Israel. Sadly I found out she hates bacon, so we won’t be friends after this.val01 Pic Juan RayosHola Valeria, how are you?
Happy we’re finally doing this!

Why did it take so long?
Because I don’t really like you. Oh and I have a time management issue.

What do you spend your time doing?
Lately it’s all about working for Longboard Girls Crew, traveling and skating. Sadly I have less time to skate now due to all the work LGC generates… ironic isn’t it?

What is the Longboard Girls Crew?
It’s an international female longboard community created in the summer of 2010 in Madrid. Our goal is the promotion of longboarding amongst women and real gender equality in this sport. Every girls that skates is part of Longboard Girls Crew.

How was the idea received initially?
Initially it was something very small, more local. Our Spanish friends and people around us were amused with the idea of having more girls in the scene. We also contacted every pro rider we knew and asked them to become fans of the page and spread the stoke worldwide… We were quite obnoxious. Then we shot our first video ‘Girls Can Ride’ by Juan Rayos and everything got big. For the most part, the feedback was amazing. Of course there were people that thought we didn’t deserve that much recognition, but we were doing a good job placing female longboarding on the map, they can’t take that away from us.
ENDLESS ROADS Val Corun_a Pic Juan RayosDid you think the first video would be that popular?
Of course not. I remember when Jacky, Chus & I went to Juan’s house to see the final edit and decide the name for it. When we saw it we looked at each other in silence for some seconds and thought… wow, this is something. And the truth is it was something that had never done before. So many girls skating in a place like Madrid, (which at that time was not a reference point in this sport) shot in such a beautiful way and with so much emotion. I think that video changed a lot of things.
A lot of people would comment now on that video, talking about us not using helmets or our lack of skills. You can jud’tge ‘Girls Can Ride’ like that. Then we didn’t know what we were doing, and of course we didn’t know it was going to be seen worldwide, we just wanted to show we skated and that we had a lot of fun. Many things have changed in 3 years, we got better, we learned about safety and we definitely don’t skate in dresses, but that video made many women want to start skating and placed Madrid in the longboard spotlight. We owe a lot to it.

Skate in a dress if you want, as long as you wear socks!
Haha. We got so much shit regarding our outfits… another clear sexist example of our society. It doesn’t make much sense, we’re normal girls skating in normal clothes, what’s the big deal?

The problem is that nobody wants to see Valeria in a dress – they want to see Chus in a short skirt!
Exactly! Chus is by far the sexiest member in the LGC staff. We get that all the time.

What impact did you hope your first video would have?
The main idea was to gather and make more women want to start skating. Now we have official ambassadors in 50 countries and the videos are seen in more than 180. We receive daily emails from far away countries of girls telling us how they started skating or how they felt inspired to start skating by our videos, pictures or interviews. How crazy and beautiful is that?

Valeria Kechichian – Longboard Girls Crew from GALGO on Vimeo.

Has the LGC made a difference in the lives of women who skate?
There were already plenty of girls that skated before LGC was created, but even for some of those, seeing the female community grow meant a lot. The girl stoke isn’t just a quote. You can feel it. When there are more than 3 girls skating together the energy is different, when girls get together they get excited… it’s such a special feeling. We’re so used to skating with boys (who we also love), but when a large group of girls gather it’s amazing. We also wanted to encourage girls all over the world, and let them know they have a female community in their city that will welcome them if they want to start.

What is the role of an LGC ambassador?
Make any girl feel comfortable when she starts this sport in their city. We’re based in Spain so we can’t control what goes on in other countries. The LGC ambassadors run their own Facebook fanpage following certain guidelines, organize their own events, shoot their own videos… spread the stoke in their country. But you don’t have to be an LGC ambassador to do that, hopefully girls welcome more girls in any city of the world, even when they have never heard of LGC.

What have been the highlights of your time with the LGC so far?
This is such a great question, and a tough one too. These past three years have been amazing. I learnt so much about so many things. I lived so many amazing experiences, I met so many outstanding people. I would say the best things are the human interactions I have had. Travelling around the world and meeting people is one of my favorite things in the world right now. Thanks to social networks we can contact any crew in any city of the world. The longboard community is amazing enough to welcome newcomers and visitors, which is something that doesn’t happen as often in other board sports.

I guess most of the highlights are trip related, but I also remember other moments like when our video ‘Carving the mountains’ got 1 million views after in 15 days. The excitement and disbelief was out of this world, haha! Shooting an ad for Mercedes Benz, the trip to Rio de Janeiro, mails and feedback from girls from far away countries.
Valeria Kechichian in Buenos Aires Pic Luis UsandizagaWhat is the hardest lesson you’ve learnt?
Pretty good question too. I guess there are two big hard lessons I’ve learned. The first one is to stand up again after a big fall. The hardest fall I had was a month before shooting Endless Roads. I was in bed for a month unable to move and had to start skating again during the first day of shooting. There is a lot of fear and uncomfortable feelings in you when you go back, as the pain you went through was so intense, but you have to face them and do it, just like with everything else in real life.

The second big lesson was with human relationships. People that like you, people that hate you, people that are jealous, people that are not honest… you’re suddenly exposed to all this and it was hard to learn how to deal with it. I’m still learning, especially about myself.

Not sure if you noticed, but all my questions are good!
Haha, I have. Give me your heavy artillery!

Who is the most amazing person you’ve met?
I’ve met so many amazing people, I can’t choose. I’m impressed by people that have fought their way in life, I like strong people with stories to tell. I like thinkers, and people that’re passionate about what they do. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to try your best. I meet a lot of people like that.
Toeside 180 Pic by Raisa Abal SukizimaHow has your role in the LGC evolved over the years?
In the beginning we all did everything in the LGC staff. It was specially tough the first year when we saw what was going on and how much it was growing and needed to decide where we were going. I was always deeply involved in the social media, press & PR, which are still my main functions. I also have a big creative vibe so I’m involved with Chus in most of the things regarding the aesthetic of LGC (from corporate colours to t-shirt combinations). Generally speaking, we all have a voice in most of the decisions LGC makes, the five of us.

When did you catch the travel bug?
I always loved to travel, but the more you do it the more you want, specially as I feel so much love from everyone when I do. Meeting the local crews, learning new things, teaching the things I know, that’s what I love and what I spend most of my time doing when I travel. Oh, culture shocks and food! I love them too.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve put in your mouth?
A booby-dollar in ISPO, Munich.

What’s that?
Ask Papa Les from Rayne.
in Buenos Aires Pic Thomas FinsterbuschWhat was the last big trip you went on?
I went to Rio last September to shoot a longboard video for Farm, one of the biggest longboard brands in Brazil. They chose four European riders and took us over there. We shot for 10 days and I went to Argentina after that for another 20 days (I’m Argentinean and love the Argentinean crew) and then back to Brazil for 10 more days. Since then I’ve done many one or two-weeks trips, mostly in Europe and another month in Buenos Aires, all of them amazing. The next big trip is coming is some days away!

How was that experience?
Brazil was the best working-experience I have had in my life. We shot for 10 days, 12 hours a day and we were so freaking happy. The riders were Kari Havnevik from Oslo, Cristina Mandarina from Barcelona, Pauli Nowik from Poland and myself. Rio de Janeiro is so far the most beautiful city I have ever been to, the people are very friendly. I had one of the best surfing days of my life and the food… oh the food. I developed an addiction to brigadeiros, a special kind of sweet. I have even considered moving there!

What is the next adventure?
Israel! We’re going to one of the oldest places on earth to skate everything and discover another side of one of the most talked-about countries. The film will be called ‘OPEN – lgc skates Israel’

Who is we?
The list of riders makes my heart go boom. Katie Nielson, Amanda Powell, Marisa Nuñez, Cindy Zhou, Ishtar Bäcklund, Cami Best, Jenna Russo, Eider Walls, Cristina Mandarina, Michaela Wilson, Gador Salis, Gina Mendez, Jacky Madenfrost & myself. Each of us from different backgrounds and cultures… like a Benetton ad with skater girls.
The production crew is also outstanding. For this project we are working with Director Daniel Etura. He has the edgy look we’re looking for besides lots of talent.
Monica Madenfrost and Chus Asensio from the LGC staff are working hard on the production and script, respectively. Jacky Madenfrost will handle general production issues, the schedule of the trip and will be the Sound Technician for the movie. Besides doing general production issues, I’m doing the marketing and the Indiegogo (crowd-founding) campaign. The DaSilva Boards crew is working hard in Israel and we’re taking Matt K to be the second camera operator… we’re big fans of his work.

Fuck yeah Gador!
Yeah Gador is amazing! She will be pissed with me for saying this, but sometimes I want to kill her… haha, but most of the time I adore her.

Her spirit is true, if more skaters were like her, the world would be more fun and bacon filled.
Couldn’t agree more. She’s very pure and transparent. You will never hear her trashing anyone.
Longboard Girls Crew in Rio III PIc Raphael LucenaWhat’s the purpose of this trip!
We wanted to shoot in some place that was never shot before. Then we had the visit from the DaSilva Boards guys from Israel for the II La Muela Freeride in Zaragoza and we developed a close bond. One day on the bus on our way to the (LGC) office Jacky, Monica & I came up with this crazy idea. The purpose is to shoot a movie out of it and show another side of a country like Israel. As you said, the line up is mind-blowing, so this should be fun. We want to do an epic project that’ll take female longboarding to the next level. We’re also working with Longboarding for Peace in Israel.

What’s the next level?
I think we’re still working for real equality. Doing big projects involving women is slowly showing the longboard community, the market and the outside world that we’re serious about this, that we are in this sport for good and that we do epic shit as well.

Why do your videos get so many views?
I think it is a mix of factors. Firstly the videos are beautiful. So far, we had only worked with Juan Rayos and I don’t need to tell anyone about his talent. He just makes everything look beautiful, even when its not (like my face). He’s extremely talented in what he does. Another factor is that sometimes we’re more focused on showing the good times and the good vibes than the latest trick, cause we feel that is also important, and a lot of people empathize with those feelings. I keep hearing it’s all about having fun, but in the end not many people live their skating life like that, that’s for sure.
Val In Navarra Pic Juan RayosWhere will you be riding in Israel?
Everywhere! Monica Madenfrost and all the DaSilva Boards crew are working hard on finding spots and getting the permits to shoot in the most amazing places. Even right next to the Willing Wall!

Are there any local girls shredding?
Apparently yes, the DaSilva Boards guys know some and of course we want to get together!

Is this Endless Roads Israel?
No. The concept is similar but it’s not the same. The level of riders is even scary for me (haha) and Daniel Etura has a completely different style to Juan Rayos’. This is not just a skating trip of a group of girls, but and eye-opening journey to discover a different reality of an unknown country for us all.

How will you guys be able to balance all the skill and big characters?
Well, we’ll leave that for the Director to solve.. haha. It’s gonna be a challenge for all, that’s for sure.

When can we expect to see the movie?
Probably sometime near November, but the trailer will be out before.
Pic Nacho Mun_oz CuellarWhat do you ride?
Bastl Boards! Mostly the Kathak. It’s a German brand based in Leipzig and they are my board sponsor. I love their boards and I love them. They are all about the big smiles, and I couldn’t feel closer to that motto. Randall Trucks, Abec 11 Freerides & Rip Tide Bushings.

Same as Peter Pahn!
Yes! Peter got me on the team last time I was in Berlin. He and Svantje, his girl, are coming to Madrid in September.

Do you have any other sponsors?
Yes, Concrete Wave Skateshop Cologne. I love them too, I love the store and I love everyone who works there. Cologne has turned out to be one of my favorite skating cities… got so many friends over there. The scene is rad and the bars are amazing.

Team Heiko! How come you’re on German teams?
Haha, yes! Heiko is great. I don’t really know how I ended up in all German teams but there I am and I love it. As I said, Germany has turned out to be one of my favorite countries to visit and skate in. I love everything about it, except for the winter weather.. wtf is up with that?
During Greenskate Girls Meet in Cologne Pic Jan Kru_ckWhat’s your favourite thing to do on your board?
The thing I love the most is carving hills and freeriding. I also love dancing. I recently started riding bowls and mini-ramps.

What do you do when you’re not skating?
Besides working (that consumes most of my time) I love surfing. That is the thing I love most in the world, though it’s tough to do living in Madrid. I also love running, snowboarding, recently wakeboarding and playing drums. But above all, I love cake. I do that a lot when I’m not skating, eat cake.

Cake and bacon?
No bacon, sorry. Probably cake and cheese.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
After Israel we will have a ridiculous amount of work delivering all the Indiegogo perks, promoting the movie and arranging new projects besides the daily grind. Mid September I was invited to be a speaker in the WIB (Women in Boardsports) Conference in Saas Fee, Switzerland, so I’ll be heading that way. After that, I’ll probably do a trip to the US, West and East Coast for some weeks.

What Indiegogo campaign?
In order to reach the budget we need to make the Israel trip we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign. We have part of the budget with the sponsors support but we’re missing that other important part for renting good equipment, production costs and paying everyone who’s been working pro bono. We also need some support to work after the film is shot.
Valeria KechichianWill Paula’s socks from Carving the mountains be one of the rewards?
Lol. No. But there will be Skype calls with the riders as rewards.

Pick 3 numbers between 1-40.
22-23-24

22 – Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m great with mothers-in-law. I’m also really good at cursing.

23- Bacon/Chocolate?
Bitch please, chocolate.

24- Favourite movie?
The sound of music, Christopher Plummer is <3

It’s been really nice speaking to you Val, hopefully see you soon!
Miss your pretty face, sucker.

Any thank yous?
To the rest of the LGC staff: Jacky, Monica, Chus & Charlie. To everyone who supports female longboarding and works unselfishly to promote it. To my sponsors Bastl Boards and Concrete Wave Skateshop Cologne, to you lovely Gbemi for loving this sport so much, to all that people that never understood my sense of humor and think I’m weird and to everyone who acts surprised when they find out about my age. Thank you all!

Links.
www.longboardgirlscrew.com
www.bastlboards.com
www.concretewave.de

 

www.twitter.com/valkechichian
www.facebook.com/valeria.kechichian
www.instagram.com/valeriakechichian

 

www.twitter.com/longboardgirls
www.facebook.com/longboardgc
www.instagram.com/longboardgirlscrew

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