Hailing from San Francisco, California, Vanessa Torres has become the unchallenged world number one skateboarding queen. Vanessa has displayed unprecedented talent since her professional debut at the age of 14, in 2000, and is helping to advance female skateboarding on practically a daily basis.
Of the 3.3 million Americans who skateboard more than once a week, about 11 per cent are female. Women who skateboard basically dress like men who skateboard: cargo pants with worn out pockets, big, baggy tee shirts, baseball caps and sneakers. They use the same ramps, and attempt the same difficult tricks. They listen to the same music, and can’t imagine wanting to do anything else but skateboard. Unfortunately, like most other professional sports, they don’t get the same financial support as the guys do. At the Canadian Open World Cup last year, where Vanessa claimed the women’s street title, she only banked about a thousand bucks compared to the men’s first place win that was worth $7,000.
If there is any female skateboarder who can lay it down equal to, or better than, a male skateboarder it’s definitely Vanessa. I have been hardcore skating for over 10 years and I can honestly say, “I fear Vanessa Torres.” Faze got a chance to hook up with Vanessa to see what she had to say about her career, her sport, her passion, and her position as a female skateboarder.
Faze: Are you a female skateboarder or just a skateboarder?
Vanessa Torres: I consider myself a female skateboarder, but at the same time I consider myself a female skateboarder making a difference in women’s skateboarding and in men’s skateboarding. I think men are afraid that women are going to dominate this sport some day, so I think they’re afraid and they’re worried. I love that. They’re worried, and they should be. I’m all about making changes and trying to overcome what they do. But at the same time I’m trying to progress in what I do.
Faze: You don’t seem to care about what anyone says?
Vanessa: I think that’s why I am where I am today. I just want to skate. I grew up strong and I grew up knowing that some things don’t matter. You do what you do, and if people who are close to you appreciate what you’re doing, and they respect and support what you’re doing, that’s all you need.
Faze: Did you grow up skating with the guys or were you on your own?
Vanessa: All my life I’ve been surround by boys who turn into guys, you know what I mean? I think you get a lot of material from them but at the same time I have to do this on my own. I have to do it my way. You absorb what they give you, and you take it in. It makes you that much stronger and I think that is where I come from. I’ve developed my own style and tricks, and I’m ready to throw it down whenever the time calls!
Faze: What do you say to girls trying to get into this male-dominated sport?
Vanessa: You have to follow your dreams. If stepping onto the skateboard changes your life, then that’s where it’s at. You have to put all of your soul and your heart into it, and that’s what I did. I found skateboarding and couldn’t get away from it. I’m just addicted to it.
Faze: How do you go out and face your fears of landing a new trick?
Vanessa: When it comes to competitions it’s a little bit gnarly because you really have to commit yourself to do a trick. It’s like you go out there and you break yourself and break yourself for what you love, you know? Who knew love could hurt so much? But it does.
Faze: So it’s about doing something that you love?
Vanessa: Yah. For me it’s unexplainable because I could never not skate! Skateboarding is flash fun. It’s all about fun and a lot of people are forgetting that!
Vanessa remains hopeful that one day skateboarding will no longer be a male-dominated sport.