INTERVIEW: ROXANA BOTU

 Roxana - Invert; Photo - Raisa Abal

When Paola told me that she was a super motivated girl, I understood, but I didn't think it was such a big deal. Roxana skates absolutely any spot you take her to. She takes the situation on her own ground and applies her style and tricks anywhere. She likes early 90's skate videos, and she has her phone full of tricks from legendary poolers. She loves skateboarding on another level. I love her initiative and that she always proposes a lot of ideas and if one day she can't take it anymore, I know that if she still has a small bite of energy left she will sign up, just so as not to miss the opportunity to skate 10 more minutes. Tell me Roxana, where were you born?

I was born in Bucuresti (Rumany) and I lived there most of my life. When I was 18, I moved to Ciuj Napoca (the city with the best skatepark in the country) to finish my studies. I lived there for 3 years and graduated in Graphic Design in June 2019, the next month of September I was already here, in Barcelona.

 

How were you as a child?

My parents always tell that I was quite energetic. My mum says that my older brother was a calm baby and I was the opposite: always crying and screaming, running all over the place and never got tired. I lived with my grandmum until I was 5, and I recall one day that my kindergarten teacher told her that I was the quietest kid in the classroom hahaha. I always wanted to be outside home, and luckily we had a garden where we could play freely. I took plenty of extracurricular activities like 3 years of gymnastics, one of swimming, one and a half practicing taekwondo, guitar, piano, karate, arts... In my free time, I played with my friends in the street until my mum called me to come back home. I don’t think I’ve changed much ‘cause I still spend my free time in the street, but most of it skating (this counts as playing, though).

Roxana - Wallride Varial; Photo - Raisa Abal

When did you start skating and why? Have you always felt real love for skateboarding? When did you realize that you wanted to skate 24/7?

When I was 6, a skateboard was given as a gift to my brother. I can still remember my first fall on a

skateboard: I was sitting on the table going downhill; the middle of the road was split and there was a tree in the middle with which I hit my head. After this adventure, the skateboard was forgotten along with other toys.

A computer was bought by my father when I was 8 and one of the first games he downloaded was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. We played a lot and I believed that skateboarding was a joke, that it was impossible to do these tricks in real life. It was like a cool sci-fi movie that didn’t exist in reality. In Romany, there’s not a big skateboarding scene, so there’s hardly anybody practicing it. Thereupon, I never saw somebody skating at that age, not even a skatepark.

At 14 years old I began in earnest.  A boy was skating by my house and he did an ollie at high speed. I couldn’t believe it, I recalled my old skateboard and I went home to search for it. It was abandoned for 8 years at home with no grip. I barely could do something with it. After finding it, I searched the word ‘skateboard’ on Youtube haha. There were loads of ‘how to ollie’ tutorials, so I learned it on the first day, but I wanted to do a kickflip. It was an obsession, ‘I’m not going to stop until I land one’, I thought. It took me six months, skating the whole day, but I learned it and it’s still one of my favorite tricks. I don’t know why, but I haven’t stopped ever since! Every day skating and learning new tricks is all I want to do.

My parents are divorced, and I could do whatever I pleased in my free time as my mum was working most of the time. In 1989, my parents were my current age. The revolution took place at that time and democracy was established. They’ve been growing up in a communist country until their twenties, so the fact that I skated was strange for them. They didn’t even let me skate for a long time. After every fall, my mum would hide the skate and tell me I’ll never use it. However, my friends shared the skateboards with me. As my mother didn’t want to buy me a new skateboard, I saved some of my lunch money for 5 or 6 months and I bought it.

At 15 years old, I started with an authentic skateboard. Nothing has stopped me despite injuries and the weather, the worst aspect of my country. It rains in September, there’s snow in Winter and then, it rains again until Summer. I tended to look for indoor places to skate such as parking lots since nothing could stop me. I didn’t care if it was -15º or there was deep snow, I always found places to skate, but we constantly had to move because of the police. Nowadays, the Rumanian women’s skateboarding scene is still not large. The contests don’t have the female category because there are not enough girls to fill the podium. The first time I joined in a female contest was at 21, the last year in Madrid, which seemed quite odd to me as I’ve never seen so many girls skating together. I’ve always been in the male category. When I started winning contests, my mum started to understand it more as a sport (an opinion which I don’t share, but it’s ok if she’s happy with it). Little by little, she began to support me, and now, I can say that she’s my #1 fan. Haha. She doesn’t understand it, but she knows that skateboarding fulfills me. She enjoys every photo I send her, but she still hates injuries. Now that you’re not working as hard as before,

Roxana - Bs Flip to Disaster; Photo - Raisa Abal

How do you spend your time when you cannot skate?

Lately, I’ve been skating from morning to night. It’s been around a month ago since I’m giving skate lessons to earn some money. Earlier, I skated during the free time I had left between classes and work. As I’m the one taking care of myself at home, I like cooking every day because I seldom eat out (unless chocolates and stuff like that). If I’ve free time I usually play games in my computer with my Rumanian friends, draw or paint. I’ve just made some tie-dye T’s and I’ll probably make some more. I like cutting grips, creating digital animations and drawings.

After 7 years studying Arts at college, I felt drained but I have the motivation again. As I’m out of uni, I just do it since I like it and I’m doing a lot more. From time to time, I make projects or drawings for my friends – I’ve recently twisted my ankle and I’m out of skateboarding for a while so I can make many more.

 

What happened to your knee? Did you fully recover from it?

That injury has been the worst misfortune of my life. I was 16, visiting my father in the other part of the country. I fell down trying a kickflip down six stairs. I twisted my knee and heard and felt a huge snap. I went back home without worrying too much about it as I had no idea of injuries: I believed it will heal by itself anytime soon like any wrist or ankle sprain. It hurt, but I thought it was just another sprain. At night, the pain was so extreme that I couldn’t walk so I woke up my dad to take me to a hospital, but he didn’t want to. Then, I had to take some pain pills. My knee was like a ball the next day, I couldn’t move it nor

walk. My father’s girlfriend was a nurse, but she didn’t want anything to do with me and she didn’t tell me that knee injuries are serious. I ended up in the hospital when I visited my mum two weeks later. “How did you fall down?” was the first question the doctors asked me. I told them I was skating and they wanted to throw me out without examining it.

In my country, skaters usually have experiences like that with doctors, they don’t want to help you since “it was your fault”. In the end, I had an X-ray and the bones were right, so they sent me home, telling me that I had to throw my skateboard away and cut that sh*t.

Roxana - Bs Air; Photo - Raisa Abal

When the inflammation went down after a few weeks, I started slowly to skate again. However, my knee was quite unstable and I asked for a new appointment with a private doctor to my mum because if you pay, they treat you well, an obvious thing. They set a date for a resonance, but I was on a waitlist for a month. I had both my anterior cruciate ligament and my meniscus broken. Just when they told me I had to have an operation, I was already looking for recovery exercises to be back at skating soon, and my mum was suffering for me. We found a really good doctor, but we had to be on waitlist of a month too: I fell down in April and they operated on me in October.

During the intervention, I thought I would be retired for six months, but when they found my meniscus was destroyed with cuts everywhere; Nothing remained of my ligament and my femur was broken due to walking so much with this damaged knee. There were lil bits of bone everywhere, and the doctors only took an hour and a half to take that out. Nevertheless, this hour became a three hours intervention and the six-month recovery period turned out to be a full year.

When everything was over, the doctor told me he only saw something like that in car accidents and how I could walk with that without crying out in pain. Still, I could skate with that knee. The recovery was horrible, I was on crutches for six months, and the doctors told me to operate as it seems that I would have difficulties with walking again. My mum broke down in tears and she told me I f*cked up my life, but I just thought of skating again. After a full year recovery period and everyday rehabilitation without a second surgery, I have reached 120º knee flexion (which it’s far from my previous flexion but it serves to live a normal life). Little by little I started to skate again, but it’s been a long and hard way. The knee was always hurting and it’s unstable now. I used orthosis for 4 years, but I don’t use it now as skateboarding helped me to grow muscle. My knee is much better, it has to improve but I cannot fully recover since I cannot bend it properly to do my exercises. However, I can say that I am well and it looks like it’s going to recover in the end.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Filming a serious part is in my mind, and I’ll get to it as soon as my ankle heals. In my case, I used to skate with boys at first, and they never treated me differently as they always encouraged me to push on. Because of my competitive nature, I always tried to skate like them, although it never worked out. In Romany, I only had one girl-friend that skated with me, so it’s been a radical change to come here and skate with so many girls, and I’m not fully accustomed to it yet. Girls move carefully, they’re hard rippers and got a different perspective than men. As I do, girls move with caution, and I want to change this. When boys try a trick, they land it on the first try, but I’m constantly worried about the fall.

Paola, Roxana and Nayara; Photo - Raisa Abal

What do you think your role is in the skateboarding scene? Your unique style draws my attention. I love it.

I just want to skate anything. I adore ramps, and initially, I used to skate miniramp, but my friends took me to the streets by force because I could be skating the mini for five hours nonstop. Right before I broke my knee, I remember searching inverts tutorials since I wanted to learn it because nobody was doing it in my country. When I was recovering, I thought ‘F*ck, I’ll never get to learn it’, but I did. The first time I did it, It was in the midst of a ramp that was the same height as myself and everybody laughed at me. It wasn’t a proper invert, but over a one-month period, I landed it with a hand over the coping, and they had to shut up. There’s still no one in my country who could do it. I wanted to skate vert so bad, but as we didn’t have it, I had to learn vert tricks as earlygrab. I had no choice. Instead, I downloaded videos of vert tricks that I wanted to learn, turn it to low speed and then, finding a way to do it in a 1,50m ramp (I also tried 540s in that ramp!).

Studying tricks extensively makes me understand the tricks properly, that’s why everyone likes how I teach. Sometimes, I teach kids who really want to skate and I love this. Teaching somebody what I do makes me happy, especially because they save a considerable lifetime (not as I did). In Romany, parks are not built well, and they are for street. I can say that this influenced my current way of skating. That’s the reason why I have a street style even though I only skate ramps. People who rip up both street and ramps inspire me. It took me a lot to learn my tricks since I knew nobody doing them. Although some skaters immediately land tricks, it takes me so many hours to learn. I can be trying a new trick after several full-day sessions. I have two speeds in skateboarding: slow-mo street and high speed in ramps. You can notice this in the photos we have made haha. Everything I want from my style is to motivate others to skate, nothing else matters.

Roxana - Kickflip rock to fakie; Photo - Raisa Abal

← Older Post Newer Post →



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published