Amanda Powell: Balance of Power

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Amanda is a good friend of mine, as well as my teammate. Amanda is always a happy and positive person to be around. She’s a beautiful girl, but knows how to kick it with the guys!

She is truly multi-talented, whether it’s skateboarding, surfing, or snowboarding; Amanda is passionate about what she does and an all around rad person to be around. I’m stoked to have her as a friend and teammate. – Kody Noble

Amanda-Balance-of-Power-Pic1What is your background?

I come from a small beach town south of Boston, Massachusetts. At age ten, I became very intrigued by skateboarding and wondered why more girls weren’t into it. I decided to give it a try and was instantly hooked. I skated, surfed, and snowboarded for the next eleven years. At twenty-one, I was introduced to bigger skateboards and that’s when the magic really happened. I became infatuated flowing on a skateboard, and my passion led me all the way across the country to California – where I could skate and surf all year long.

What drew you to longboarding?

My hometown friends were ripping on local hills and I saw it as the perfect hybrid of surfing, snowboarding, and skating. My first big board was 55” and the smooth ride felt so natural to me. I also started seeing videos popping up of more ladies skating longboards, and the inspiration of other females always provides a huge drive for me. I think a lot of girls have the, “If she can do it, so can I!” attitude.

How did you wind up getting sponsorships?

Loaded and Orangatang contacted me after seeing my very first video, and I gratefully became involved with them when I was still living on the east coast. Shortly after that, Daddies Board Shop saw a lot of potential in me as a skater and decided to sponsor me, and they continue to support me today. When I moved to California I was working long hours at a gourmet cookie bakery with hardly any days off. I realized that I needed a job within the skate industry in order to pursue my dream to travel and grow the female community. After some patience and shuffling around, a position opened up at Resource Distribution for me to work with Riviera Skateboards, Paris Trucks, and Divine Wheels. I work with them on research and development of products, social media, and traveling the world as a brand ambassador. They are my sponsors, my friends, and my family. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity they have given me to live life doing what I love.

I know that you love to surf. How do you think surfing influences your skateboarding, and your style?

I do love surfing, just as much as I love skating. I think how I surf a wave and how I skate a hill or a sidewalk both stem from me just trusting my body to flow on the board and on the terrain, however feels best. I’m completely addicted to that feeling of getting shacked without thinking about anything but the pure bliss of gliding, whether it’s on the ocean or the street. How good it feels comes out through your body language and that is your style. By adding a lot of surfing to my diet I think I diversified my style because I’m now familiar with maneuvering an even bigger board on Mother Nature’s ever-changing water ramps, using similar movements that I do on a skateboard. So my styles certainly intertwine – I pretty much skate waves and surf downhill.

Describe a typical day.

A typical day when I’m home in Los Angeles starts with waking up around 8AM. I require a lot of coffee and stretching in the morning to get the day going right. Typically I handle work emails for a couple of hours from home but some days I drive down to Resource Distribution to have meetings about various happenings with the brands. Then I have a skate, typically in Venice Beach or the Malibu Canyons. Sometimes photographers and filmers come along to keep media flowing. After the skate I head to one of my favorite breaks in Malibu to surf until just after sunset. Then I lurk at SkateHouse and chat with the house-mates and the slew of guests that roll through from all corners of the world. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted and I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow…just to do it all again the next day.

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What was your most memorable road trip so far?

I’d have to say my most memorable road trip to date was the “Endless Roads” Longboard Girls Crew trip throughout Spain in 2011. It was the first time I had ever skated with so many girls, and the first time I had traveled out of the country for a skate trip. We had a classic VW van, seven radical chicas, and a trip planned around beautiful Spain to see and skate as much as we could. There was a magical vibe between us girls, and I’m so thankful for my invitation to that trip and to have had it documented so beautifully. It’s so cool to have those memories immortalized on film, I can look back at the videos on Vimeo whenever to relive that special trip.

What are some of the things you have been doing with the Longboard Girls Crew?

The Longboard Girls Crew is an organization that has fostered the growth of women’s skateboarding like no other, in my opinion. It is thanks to the founders’ tireless efforts to grow the lady skate scene – virtually connecting skatergirls from all over the world on Facebook and developing inclusive communities in so many ways. Their Facebook page is riddled with girls constantly sharing inspiring photos, videos, and stories of stoke. They also have sub-divisions of LGC for each country that has a girl skate crew, to further network these ladies and get them skating together! I’ve personally collaborated with the LGC on a couple video projects, “Endless Roads” which is a web-episode series of LGC skating in Spain and recently “Open” which is a full length feature of LGC skating in Israel to be released soon. I hope to become more involved with the planning of their projects this year.

How do you think we can encourage more females to take up longboarding?
As much as I think it’s going well within the lady skate scene, it could always be better. I think brands could focus their attention on shining the light on their female skaters with more high quality media of girls shredding and more female-designed product. I designed my Riviera pro-model with a narrower version (the Ursa Minor) that I think is much more comfortable for a smaller lady-foot. Some girls just need to see that skateboarding isn’t a boys club, and they also need to understand that it doesn’t make you any less of a girl if you want to try skateboarding. We need all the estrogen and lady-grace we can get to keep the scene balanced.

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Where do you see your career in longboarding going?

I hope my professional skate career continues to grow steadily as it has, growing with the industry. I aspire to do more of what I’ve started to do – traveling the world to race and represent my sponsors, developing product, and inspiring ladies and guys alike to ride a skateboard however they want to. I want to continue to be super involved with product development for Riviera, Paris, and Divine – it’s exciting times right now, as my pro-model Riviera downhill decks just became available to buy and my pro-model Paris Trucks will be available in March. I’m endlessly grateful for this unique and amazing ride that Resource has given me, and I look forward to the future with them – exploring new places, meeting new skate communities, and creating new product and media.

Being from the East Coast, how much do you miss your family, and how do they feel about you downhill racing?

I definitely miss my whole family a ton. They’re 3,000 miles away in Massachusetts and it’s been a trip to watch my niece grow up just through photos and my occasional visit home. I keep in touch with my parents a lot through texts and phone calls. They admire everything I do with skateboarding, including downhill racing. They’ve been supportive of me skateboarding since the first day I decided I was going to try it, and have been supportive every day since. My parents were for sure my first sponsor – my father bought me my first pair of skate shoes, a pair of Globes from Ski Market. Fourteen years later, he every skater he sees to pull out his phone and to show off photos of me skating. My mom shares everything I post on Facebook. We miss each other heaps but everyone in my family is extremely proud to see me supporting myself by doing what I love.

What’s it like to be the only girl in the van, on tour with a bunch of guys?

It feels pretty natural to me because I was a tomboy as a kid and I always had more guy friends than gal friends growing up. I’ve definitely embraced femininity in my adult years but I still often find myself as the only chick in the van and it can get pretty damn dirty…in multiple ways. I’m definitely spoken for, and a lot of my team mates have become like brothers to me, so as far as they’re concerned I’m just another skater in the van. Skate trips with dudes have a different feel than ones with girls, but not in a bad way. I think that guys are just always looking for a really good laugh and a lot of them live uncensored, which makes being in the van with them hilarious.

When your active skateboarding career is over, what do you think you’d like to do next?

I have a few ideas of some other career paths I could see myself taking, but I hope my skate career never completely ends. I wish to stay forever involved in the skate industry in one way or another. I know that there will be a day that I won’t physically be able to push my body and my skating to the professional level, but I want to for as long as I possibly can. The work that I do now with Resource has brought me to so many amazing destinations – Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Colombia – I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity to skate the beautiful landscapes of these countries and also be a sponge to their cultures. If life works out that I grow into a bigger position at Resource, be it Social Media Management or Team Management or something of the sort, it would be ideal to continue this kind of lifestyle and job of skating and exploring the world with my skate family. If a day comes that I need to find another career outside of skateboarding, there are a few professions that I could see myself being happy with. I’ve considered Massage Therapy. I think that holistic bodywork seems like a really rewarding and fulfilling profession. I’ve played with the idea of going back to school to be an English teacher some day. The possibilities are endless, really. I’m not much of a planner, and I know that however my life pans out is exactly the way that it’s supposed to. I’m thoroughly enjoying what I fill my current days with and that’s what matters most to me.

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What so far has been the favorite part of your career? Is it touring, filming, creative collaborations or something else?

Touring is my favorite – to go to foreign places and completely immerse myself in different cultures is an experience like no other. To learn about a place’s origins and traditions first hand from locals doesn’t remotely compare to studying about it in a book. Every experience that I have abroad influences me somehow, it makes me look at life with a widened perspective. I also enjoy collaborating with like-minded skaters, artists, and dreamers to make each other’s visions a reality in video or photo form. I find that to be so gratifying. Whether I’m in front of or behind the lens, I think it’s so important to stay creative and inspired. As Kurt Vonnegut has said, “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”

What is the story behind your latest graphic?

I’ve known that I belonged in California for a long time, and it’s been a journey to get here. I remember when I was in kindergarten people called me a California girl, it must have been my blond hair and free spirit, but I had no idea what it meant at the time. As I grew up, I started to feel I was born in the wrong zone. There’s a special place in my heart for my hometown and the east coast, but I just can’t live my life how I want to over there. I need the endless summer of California – sunshine and waves every day. So, I chose the iconic California Grizzly Bear as my first pro- model graphic because I worked hard to move my life all the way across the country and I genuinely love living here. Tim Clark, the Resource Art Director was the artist that put together the graphic and he did a stellar job at making it unique and personal. The style is influenced by pen and ink and watercolor, a medium that I’ve always been fond of because my father is a talented artist and for a long time those were his favorite materials to work with. I also appreciate all types of body art, so the style is also inspired by Peter Aurisch’s gorgeous and unconventional tattoos, as I plan to some day have a piece of his stunning artwork on my body.

Are their aspects of meditation that you bring to longboarding…or are there things that you do in longboarding that help with meditation?

Breathing and stretching are the common denominators between skating and meditation, I think. When I skate down a hill or am sitting in meditation, I’m very much focused on breathing. It’s so important! We do it all day long to keep our bodies ticking and we hardly think about it. I have asthma, so I’m acutely aware of when I’m getting enough oxygen or not. Deep breathing relaxes your muscles, relieves stress, and is beneficial for various systems in your body. If you remember to take deep breaths while skating, your body will perform better. Stretching is key as well, whether it’s before a skate session or just to mellow out. Striving to be more in tune with my body and mind while meditating benefits my skateboarding and vice versa.

Any final comments…

Thank you for all the questions and giving me another platform to express myself. All in all, I just hope to remind people to keep skateboarding silly. We’re all just playing around with wood and wheels under our feet and there’s definitely no rulebook. Skate however feels best to you. I dream that more girls continue to realize how much fun we’re having and the skate community continues to flourish and evolve. I owe many thanks to my sponsors for keeping me rolling all over the world – Riviera Skateboards, Paris Trucks, Divine Wheels, Daddies Board Shop, S-One Helmets, G-Form, and Ojoom Pucks. I couldn’t do any of this without your support – I promise I’ll pay it forward. Photos by Mark Nizbet

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