SKATER - SHANI BRU
Tired of being a spectator with friends as they practiced, she picked up a skateboard and gave it a shot. Practice led to progress and progress in turn became a passion, soon the skate park became a second home, and it did not hurt that she could now challenge her friends and prove her capability in her new-found love and turn her passion into a profession.
When did you start practicing your sport?
I started skateboarding at the age of 15 rather by chance. A skatepark was built where I lived at the time (Bergerac) and my friends started hanging out there every day and practicing skateboarding. I was bored, so I quickly decided not to just be a spectator, but to get into it myself and to give it my all, from one day to the next. I had a real motivation to progress; I was there every day and not only for the friends but really because I fell in love with skateboarding. Obviously, being able to challenge my friends and prove that I was capable was also an extra motivation!
What's the best learning you got from your sport?
I think skateboarding has taught me to push my limits. I sometimes dreamed of doing certain tricks and I really worked to get them in. When I was first starting out, it was unthinkable that I would ever get there and do it. It really gave me a lot of satisfaction and confidence to realise that when you fall you can get back up and do it if you don't give up.
What advice do you have for a young girl that wants to start skating?
My advice would be to just go for it and not worry about how others look at you. When you skate, you fall every day, and it happens to everyone. Everyone is a beginner one day and makes his debut. Don't hesitate to follow your dreams and start skateboarding even if it seems impossible. You should try to make friends at the skatepark, to surround yourself with a bunch of good friends to practice together and share the passion of skateboarding. The idea is to focus on what you want to do and not on what others think.
What are you most proud of doing?
Looking back, I am proud to have participated in the World Cup "Vans Park Series" Tour Pro for several seasons in 2018 and 2019 (before the end of this competition during the Covid). Indeed, I was the only European selected and ranked in the Top 15. I started these competitions when I was about 19 years old and at the time, I totally idolised the girls I met while travelling on these competitions. I was up against X-Games winners and other big skateboarding stars. For me, who started in Dordogne, France, it was exciting and very difficult at the beginning to go alone around the world to get my ass kicked on my first experiences in huge bowls (laugh). I'm proud of myself for hanging in there, working hard in Bordeaux, in skateparks that were clearly not up to scratch, all to reach my goals and come back stronger at each step. I'm happy to have made real friends and to have gained in autonomy and level thanks to these trips.
Do you remember the moment you realized (sport) could be a career for you?
I remember that the moment I felt that skateboarding could take a more professional turn in my life was when I placed 2nd in Europe (behind an American with dual nationality) at the continental stage of the Vans Park Series in Sweden. I was there with the French team, who had given me a ranking goal for this competition in order to be selected in the future Olympic Park skate team. I was under a lot of pressure because it was my first international competition, and abroad. The moment I stood on the podium and my future sponsor congratulated me; I knew that this would change. A few months later I joined the World Cup Pro Vans Park Series for the first stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil and went on a filming trip with Vans in Indonesia.
Did you ever think you couldn't be a professional (sport) because you're a woman? What changed your mind?
I never had time to sit back and think about what my future in skateboarding would be, let alone as a woman. When I started skateboarding, I didn't think about what obstacles would be in my way, but I really went for it, telling myself that I would try to match my idols, regardless of gender. I just put my head down, tried to make as much progress as possible, set myself goals and tried to see how far it would take me. I obviously always kept in mind that being able to skate every day and in great places would be my dream and it motivated me to see that some women seemed to be able to do that.
Do you think women in (sport) receive enough representation/ recognition in the (national) society? If not, what do you think would help achieve an equal representation?
I think things are moving in the right direction; that the skateboard industry is looking to integrate women into skateboarding projects, into pro teams, into events. I think a lot of women are also pushing for this, because it's not without obstacles and this democratization of pro women and pro models is quite recent. I'm trying to surround myself with brands that encourage this more equal representation in skateboarding. I have also seen the notion of equal prize money between men and women appear on most competitions, this has been a great and has put an end to some debates.
How social media, in your opinion, can help/ have helped to change perception on professional female (sport)?
II think that overall, social networks have allowed skateboarding to emerge in the eyes of everyone. Before, you had to be on the lookout for the latest magazine, buy videos and then later search the internet to see the evolutions and follow the pros. I think that now, thanks to Instagram, skateboarders have been able to make themselves known, without having to travel and coming from an environment that does not favour this emergence. This has allowed them to observe each other, to inspire each other, to progress and to challenge each other personally. Thanks to this, the women who practice skateboarding, and who were in the minority on the spots, were able to realize that many other women practice. These women were able to inspire others. Clearly, social networking as a professional skateboarder is a way to convey this positive image to inspire others. By doing this, it also helps to attract sponsors, to give visibility, to share news and skate clips and photos, so it's an important tool.
If you could, what is one thing you would change about your sport from a woman's perspective?
I wouldn't change anything about skateboarding. Skateboarding is something you do when you are passionate about it. No one likes to hurt themselves, when you practice it's because you really like it, you like the sensations it gives. I would like only that some closed-minded people understand that we are all in the same basket, that it is up to them to change their state of mind. Because skateboarding for me represents a state of mind based on mutual aid, friendship, and respect. Skateboarding does not only belong to men but to all the passionate people.