Interview with Manon Derrien — Women's aggressive skating
Video interview (French)
Hello Manon. How long have you been skating for?
I've been skating for 8 years. I started here in Bordeaux at the skatepark, with friends. I never took lessons, and that's also what I liked about it.
How old are you?
I'm 22. I started at 14, I was in middle school.
What brought you to aggressive skating?
I had friends who used to skate in my town, in Carbon-Blanc, and once the skatepark was built on the docks of Bordeaux, I came to see them, I watched them and I felt like trying. But I really clicked the first time I saw a girl skating.
What was she doing?
She was skating the park.
Who was it?
It was Aurore Costabille. And I said to myself: Well, girls can do it too... That's rad.
Another French skater gave you the calling.
Did you try other disciplines than aggressive skating, like speed skating or hockey...?
I've never tried hockey — Well, I did an introduction during a demo. And I had a go at skatecross in Lausanne this summer, honestly it was super fun. It's nice to change a little. But I think that aggro is still what I like best.
You seem to be particularly more interested in bowl than park skating so-to-speak?
Let's say that it hurts less in the bowl. I like going fast, I like sliding, I like taking up speed, bowl skating is great for that. And also, when you do a session, you can stay all together, whereas in the park we would all be here and there...
In then end, it connects people on one single spot.
Exactly. Everybody watch, it's motivating, it's cool.
So today you're ranked amongst the top French skaters?
Yeah, I'm #3, I guess!
How did you reach that level? Did you train alone or did you find someone to coach you?
In fact when I started, I was kind of the only girl in the park, and when the boys saw that I was motivated and that I actually liked that, they gave me tips and it made me want to keep on trying. Then they brought me on a competition... It was an epic fail, I ended up last, I could hardly go up the launch box, but it remained a great experience. It was in Nantes for the Gladiator in — I don't even remember the year, it was the 3rd edition. I did a few other competitions afterwards. I didn't do podiums right away, but I think that skating on other spots helped me a lot: I'd learn tricks and all, and when I'd come back here I'd have gained in variety... Honestly, moving, skating other parks, even other spots, meeting people, I think that's what I like best in skating.
Is it your favorite spot here or are there other spots you particularly like?
I really like the skatepark in Nantes, the Hangar. I like Rampworks in Liverpool a lot too. Before, I also liked going to Rotterdam, it was called Skateland.
What do you like in those skateparks?
First of all, I like when they are made of wood. When you fall, it doesn't hurt that much. And there's a little bit of everything in there, because they're big, there are street spots, ramps, disasters, there are so many things. So that when you're tired of skating the mini-ramp, you can just switch and go skate the curb, the rail... That's what's cool about those parks.
As a girl, integrating the world of aggressive skating doesn't seem to have been much complicated for you...
No it wasn't much complicated. The guys here were quite nice to me and gave me lots of tips and all, and I think that's what really motivated me. As a girl, it's different. Guys see a girl skating and they're like: Oh there's a skater girl! It's gratifying, it's cool.
You must be the dream girlfriend for most of them!
Haha. Yes but no, my boyfriend doesn't skate! But it's cool to be a girl in a boy's world, because you feel a bit like you're the mascot.
How do you see aggressive skating: Is it a leisure or a competition sport?
A passion, it's a passion above all. I'm not really interested in competition. I love skating, I get my kicks just from being on skates. I injured my knee last year and when I could put my skates back on, it felt so good. I remember, I had just received my Sebas and I was skating around the fireplace at home, like a little girl who'd just opened her Christmas present. It felt so good. Just that.
When did you do your first results?
I did my first results the year after I started competition. We were not a lot, we were 3-4, just enough to open a girls' category, and I'd do podiums, it was fun. We felt like we were kind of successful...
Who were you with?
At first there was Mathilde Monneron, there was Aurore Costabille, there was Amandine Condroyer, there was Coralie Tan... Mostly French girls, because I'd stay in France. The first competition I did abroad was in Rotterdam, then I went to the Winterclash in 2010 in Berlin, and I saw American girls and all... I saw Fallon, I saw Jenna... It was incredible. Even the atmosphere on the girls' competition was... I had never experienced that, it was extraordinary.
How many times do you skate per week?
Honestly, I skate when I have free time — Currently, between work and school, I don't have much time, but if there's a little sunshine when I leave work, I come here. I love it so much.
You're currently working?
In fact I'm doing a block release training in engineering. I alternate two weeks in school and one month in a company. I finish in June. Then I'll have a little more time.
Which field as an engineer?
I'm into composite materials. For skates for example, carbon.
Are you going to design your own skates?
I don't know, we'll see, why not...
How did you get sponsored by Seba?
I had already known Anthony for some time, I'd been to Paris several times, and he knew I had problems with my skates because I've got really small feet, I'm size 35. Before having Seba skates, my dad had to cut all my skates to my size. He would cut them, patch them up, put rivets... We would cut my liners and sew them back for them to fit my feet. It was a lot of work. Anthony knew it, and one day he told me: Listen, we're going to produce small sizes, I know how much you struggle, I'd like you to try. And then I injured my knee. When the skates were released, he sent me a pair. It really motivated me to take up skating again. And I said to myself: I'm going to work hard, there are brand-new skates in my size waiting for me... And when I put them on, tried them for my first session, I loved them right away. And then it happened.
What is your next competition?
The Winterclash in Eindhoven.
How do you prepare for such an event?
Honestly I'm going for the fun, to meet people, see people I haven't seen in a long time... I'm not going to say to myself the week before: I have to train on some tricks to be successful there. It's not my thing at all, I'd rather just enjoy. It's true that with the competition, everybody gathers there, that's why it's interesting.
I heard about the setting up of a girl team?
A tour project, indeed. We discussed it with Priscilla. She asked for a little help for the file, to try and find sponsors to help us. We want to set it up for events. In Bordeaux we're organizing the West Coast Contest, it's the 5th edition, and since I'm part of the organization, it's true that I want to push the event, all the more if there's something a little special for the girls.
As far as I understood, with this girl tour that is supported by the French Federation, you are going to bring the women's top skaters on 3 to 4 big events, and maybe do sessions the day before those events?
That's right, the goal is to meet the local girls the day before the event, run flash-classes, do demos, show them stuff, and pass on the calling. So that next year, maybe they'll compete with us?
Are there a lot of girls doing aggressive skating?
There aren't many girls, but there's quite a lot of little girls, more and more I think, who watch and show interest in it. I think there's potential in there. And I can see it in other countries, where aggro develops a lot. For example in South America, there's an incredible number of girls. Honestly, I'd love to go there if only to see them and do a girls only session, that'd be awesome.
To my understanding you want to invest more time in coaching in your association?
Yes, in fact I'd like to voluntarily run classes, and then try to get an accreditation for work experience and a certificate to provide lessons and be paid a little in return, even if it's not why I want to do it. It could be nice, and it would be safe too.
A word about your sponsors? We talked about Seba, do you have other sponsors?
I've been sponsored by Pierre Qui Roule, the Bordeaux skate shop since I started. They've supported me since the very beginning, I've been with them for 6 years or so. They've always helped me, and it's true that it's cool to be supported by a local shop.
There's also the clothing brand Arcena, from Montpellier and it's pretty fancy. They are really cool and I can't wait to do a little tour with them.
A few words for girls who'd like to have a go at aggressive skating?
You should try. First of all try, and then don't stop. And don't be afraid of getting hurt.
As for protective gear, a special message you want to pass on?
I've always worn shin-guards, wrist guards and a helmet, it's essential. I've got more and more friends who fall on their heads and suffer head concussions. It can be really severe, wear a helmet!
Born on: Sept. 29th, 1992
Size: 1.60 m
Weight: 52 kg
Born in: Bordeaux (France)
Lives in: Bordeaux (France)
Started skating in: 2007
Studies: Engineering studies (calculation of structures and composite materials)
Job: Mechanical design engineer
Strong points: Slides
Points to improve: Rotations
Other sports: Judo, ski, wakeboard
Last movie: Gone Girl by David Fincher
Favorite music: Pop rock
Video games: Final Fantasy, Mario Kart
Books: Mangas, news
Likes: Mangas, travelling, meeting new people, laughing
Dislikes: Clowns, spiders, bad injuries
Qualities: Relentless, kind
Flaws: Naive, stubborn
Club: Secretary of BRA (Bordeaux Rollerblading Association)
Team: SEBA Team, Pierre Qui Roule skateshop, Arcena
Best memory: Winterclash 2010 in Berlin, the craziest and most emotional girls' final ever / Gladiator III for the men's performances during the pro-final and the atmosphere.
Worst memory: Tearing of cruciate ligament (knee) on March 28th, 2013
Spoken languages: French, English
Alcohol or fruit juice? Both
Beach or mountain? Beach in the summer, mountain in the winter
Morning or evening? Morning
Cheese or dessert? Cheese
Rap or techno? Rap
Soccer or rugby? Rugby
- 2nd at the 2012 WRS World Ranking
- 1st at the Lausanne Street Bowl Contest, 2009 and 2012
- 3rd at the Chaz Sands Invitational, Liverpool, 2010
- 1st at the Gladiator Contest, Nantes, 2010, 2011 and 2012
- 3rd at the Winterclash, Eindhoven, 2012 and 2013
- 1st at the FISE World, Montpellier, 2010 and 2011
- 2nd at the Barcelona Extreme, 2014.
Useful linksBy Alfathor
Translation: Chloe Seyres