HANNA YLÄTALO INTERVIEW
CTRL GIRL POWER interview series continues and the next one in line is Hanna Ylätalo. We got a little chat with Hanna about skateboarding, travelling and seeing differences in skate scenes in Finland and in other countries. She also talks about the awkward stage in the beginning when you start skateboarding and when even going to the park feels way too intimidating and how to overcome those fears. This 27-year-old girl is studying cognition science in the university and on her free time you can spot her on her deck. This girl doesn’t make too much noise about her self. However she is surprising us all with her skills even though she has skated relatively short time. She started skating in her twenties and she’s a good example of the can-do-spirit. It's been inspiring for the very beginners but also for longtime skaters to see her progress and development on the board. She doesn’t let anything to limit her to try out new tricks fearlessly. Hanna has travelled also to parts of Europe and other places skating with her friends. Let’s see what she got to say.
When did you start skateboarding and how did it happen?
I started about four years ago. Don't really know how, or even more why, that actually happened. That was quite creative and bohemian period in my life in many ways, and just one day the idea about skateboarding came to my mind. I texted my brother if he wanted to start skateboarding with me. He was immediately in and already the next day we went to Lamina to buy completes for ourselves.
That summer we were cruising around Helsinki every now and then. However going to any skatepark wasn’t first in mind and anyway skating wasn’t that active at that time. Once we went to Kontula indoor skatepark but we turned around almost immediately at the entrance door cos the thing there seemed a bit too hectic for the inexperienced beginners. We were maybe just practicing ollie at some corner for a while and got out off there.
As far as I recollect the next autumn I spotted TRL (Tyttörullalautailijat ry, an association for girl skaters Finland) in facebook. They organize private shifts for girls in Kontula. I started going there early in the next year. During the first year I didn’t go anywhere else than sessions organized by TRL. At the skateparks I felt pretty damn shy at first. However at some sesh I met another girl, Säde, to whom it was totally normal to go in and skate along with guys and from that I got some courage when I started to skate with her.
Do you have any advice for other girls or beginners how to overcome that fear of skateboarding in front of other people?
It’s easy to say that all that strain and hassle is totally unnecessary, and that you just have to go in even though you feel scared or intimidated. But for real, you just have to go there and go in even though you feel embarrassed if you ever want to learn to skate. Sooner or later you will notice that you have stepped out from your comfort zone and took it over.
Where do you like to skate? Do you rather skate flat, street, parks, curves or bowls? What is your favorite spot and why?
I mostly skate street. I’ve been living in Helsinki for all that time that I’ve been skating so there hasn’t been any need to looking for spots. Here in Helsinki we have pretty much good parks and all the time there is coming more and more. This spring I’ve started to like skating curves and concrete parks as well. I don’t have any favorite spot. The best thing is when you can skate many different spots during the same day. It is the coolest thing when someone got a car on a sunny summer day and you can go around to different spots.
In the end you have skated relatively quite short time and there has been huge progress happening during the past year and I heard some rumors that you got a nickname Hammer Hanna. What is the latest trick you’ve learned?
Well, I don’t I think that the progress has been that fast. Maybe concerning the fact that I started skateboarding when I was 23, I have learned something but actually I feel that I learn pretty slowly. Mostly it’s all about that you need to have guts to do things. I’ve always been a bit venturesome, or at least my mom has told me that when I was a kid she always worried about how she can take care of me and manage to keep me alive cos I was always climbing in some trees or hanging upside down and things like that. So probably still nowadays when I’m adult I still take some stupid risks easily. Hammer Hanna, hahaha! The latest trick I’ve learned, well, I’ve managed to do 50-50 to some rails.
What is your favorite trick?
At the moment my favorite trick is maybe a board slide.
What is the best thing in skateboarding?
It’s simply just fun, and feels good! Skating gives you a feeling of freedom and I think that's the best feeling that exists.
What is the hardest thing in skateboarding and where do you get your motivation?
Injuries! They are the shittiest thing that can happen in skateboarding. It sucks when you wanna skate so bad but you can't because of some damn twisted ankle. Especially now when there are sunny days and I hurt my ankle. But it is what it is. Injuries are part of skateboarding and all the cool things do require that you have to handle with that shit sometimes too.
The best motivation in skateboarding comes from good sessions. Sometimes you get some good skate vibes from some random skate clips and especially when seeing other girls doing sick stuff. Then you wanna go to some skatepark nearby to try some new stuff as well or otherwise you won’t get a sleep in the night when you are just thinking about it.
What skateboarding means to you? And what skateboarding has given to you?
I feel like I’m not that much inside within a certain “skate scene” but still I think that skateboarding is affecting to all areas in my life somehow. It is also partly some kind of question of identity, I think. Skateboarding as a hobby is taking so much time that it inevitably becomes quite a big part of your life. Especially during the past year I noticed that more and more the people with whom I hang out are skating as well. It is also influenced by the fact that in Helsinki there has been developing pretty good girls’ scene in skateboarding during the past couple of years.
Do you have some idols or who is your favorite skateboarder?
I’m not sure if I've had any idols after Spice Girls and Jesus. I don’t know what idol actually means. Of course I have hyped some skaters like Marisa Dal Santo, Sarah Meurle and of course Elissa Steamer. But the coolest thing is to see and follow your local skaters when they are doing their thing.
You are travelling quite much and lately you were on a skateboarding trip in India. How was it?
Yeah, at least concerning the level of my incomes I have travelled quite much. In January we were in India on a skateboarding tour with few other Finnish girl skaters. Last year I was on the same tour that was the first ever organized skateboarding tour in India in the country's history. It was sponsored by Red Bull and there were quite lots of kids participating as well. It was a really good experience, I would say. This year the tour was quite different and the whole thing was much smaller and more unofficial and there weren’t any sponsors this year. Actually, the whole thing wasn’t that organized at all this year compared to last year. It was more like a get-together of some smaller crew, people a bit from everywhere, mostly from Europe and there were also few guys from US and Nepal as well. And of course from India. A couple of Finnish girls were also living in there so we were all together seven girls from Finland and had a pretty good representation of Finnish female skaters over there!
We were driving from spot to spot by bus. There are very few spots in India and the distance between the spots might be hundreds of kilometers. Most of the places in India are DIY spots built by volunteers. However the DIY culture is really strong over there at the moment and there will be more and more spots coming all the time. In the end skateboarding is really new thing in India. Skate scene over there is relatively small and there is quite gutsy and authentic old school attitude. Anyway, the tour was such a cool experience, great people and amazing landscapes. I’ve been missing India a lot.
You've been skating in different places around the world. What is the weirdest or the most special place where you’ve been skateboarding? Why? And what is your favorite spot abroad?
Last August during Malmö’s Ultrabowl contest we were in Christiania in Copenhagen running away from the rain. It was the fist day of our Swedish-German-Finnish crew’s road trip. The games in Malmö were cancelled because of the rain so everybody gathered to the pool in Christiania. There were lots of people who were supposed to compete in Malmö and they were ripping the bowl. I wasn’t skating there but the spot and the sesh over there were quite impressive. It was hardcore skating and sometimes some dealers came hiding because of some cop raids outside Christiania. It was kinda misty youth cave. At one point there developed pretty good girls’ sesh as well, it was really cool. There we were just hanging and chilling and watching skating.
It was really cool to skate in Darjeeling in India where I was with a friend. The whole village is in the mountains and during that time of the year there were something like a couple of degrees warm only. Nobody over there has ever heard anything about skateboarding. We were skating at some railway station somewhere over there and kids were gathering around us to marvel at what’s going on. And everybody wanted to try, of course. Then we left from that sport, cruising down something like four kilometers of downhill among the cars and all the traffic. It was such a great feeling just to roll down in the middle of that landscape and everybody were just marveling at us and smiling. It might have been a bit dangerous though.
Can you tell some differences in skateboarding scenes abroad compared to Finland?
Well, at least in India there are differences and I mentioned something about it already before. I’ve seen some skate scenes pretty superficially but in my opinion the vibes in the scene in Sweden are quite different. Especially when it comes to girls cos there is way more girls skating over there than in Finland. It seemed that they are pretty inside within that scene, and I feel that here in Finland as a woman you feel a bit outsider. In Bali the skate scene was also different, local skateboarders were hanging at some local tattoo shops and they all had lots of ink and they hyped some hardcore music.
Can you see lots of girl skaters abroad where you’ve been skating?
Well, where I’ve been skating in Europe the skate scene is always man dominated of course but there is still more girls than compared to Finland. In Asia you don’t see that much girls skating.
What do you think of women’s skateboarding in Finland at the moment and how do you see the future of women’s skateboarding in general?
I think it’s great that during the past couple of years there have become more and more new girl skaters in Helsinki. About the rest of the Finland and the situation abroad I can’t say much anything. Sometimes it’s easy to fret that I didn’t start skateboarding as a kid when it’s easier and faster to learn new movements and trajectories. If skateboarding would not be perceived as some boys’ thing, and if there would be more girls at the parks skating for real, the threshold to start would be much lower for many girls. Certainly in Finland as well the popularity of skateboarding among girls continues to grow in the future. I see that there is lots of potential here in Finland as well.
Do you have a motto or some special philosophy in skateboarding or in life in general?
I found my life philosophy on forum of vauva.fi. Life is short and I am slow, so how to get all important things done in less than a hundred years?
Greetings to other skaters/everybody?
Stay high, stay motivated, stay hustly hahhah! I don’t know, see you at summer seshs!
And lastly, about whom girl skater would you like to read the next interview?
It would be interesting to read the interview about India’s first female skateboarder, Atita. It would be also interesting to read about Tiina from Tampere.
We’ll see what we can do about it. Thanks Hanna for the interview! Meanwhile…Ride on!