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adidas Skateboarding first female pro skater

Nora Vasconcellos unveils her unisex apparel and sneaker collection

adidas Skateboarding first female pro skater Nora Vasconcellos unveils her unisex apparel and sneaker collection

A new chapter has officially begun in the international skate scene: as perfectly described by one of its protagonists, this is not just a phase, it's an unprecedented reality that is reshaping this sport from within. More and more girls are getting on the board, more and more are turning pro, signing deals with the biggest industry's brands, they are the ones breaking the rules of a long male-dominated discipline. It's a new horizon that also brands and mainstream media are progressively getting aware of, above all with the arrival of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where skateboarding will become an Olympic sport for the first time. 

Nora Vasconcellos was the first female skater to join the adidas Skateboarding team, along with some of her personal heroes such as Mark Gonzales. Born in 1992 in the small town of Pembroke, Massachusetts, the journey that led Nora to turn pro was nothing but linear. There's a sweet video shot by her dad, a freelance illustrator, and artist that passed on a specific artistic inclination to both Nora and her brother, where Nora unwraps her first skate deck, on Christmas day back in 1997. 

Even when I was really little and didn’t skate, I always identified with it. It’s strange, but I knew it was something I was going to do.

Nora first got on a skate deck a few years later, aged 11, along with her friend Becky, after they were both rejected from the soccer team of their school. At the same time, they started shooting short and very funny videos on the skateboard: in front of the camera Nora's personality is outstanding, she turns into a stage animal without filters or inhibitions. An attitude that is partly contrasting with the panic attacks that Nora has had since she was 6. Skateboarding becomes a way to deal with her anxiety, because as she would say: 

It’s not some elitist bullshit ring about being better than each other. 

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After graduating, also because of her family's financial issues, Nora started working in a production warehouse for a large-scale advertisement company. A lost year, according to Nora herself, that after 12 months spent doing a boring job she was not interested in, she realized time had come for a leap of faith. For her future means skateboarding, she jumps on a train that travels across the US and gets to California. Now settled in Orange County, during a session at So Cal skatepark, Nora met Jason Celaya, the founder of the skate brand Welcome Skateboards, that actually operates from Celaya's living room, who soon asks her to join the team: it's a new experience that lets Nora discover what it means to run a skate brand from a managing point of view, while she keeps improving her tricks. During her four years at Welcome Skateboards Vasconcellos turns pro, and a few months later, in 2017, she sings a deal with adidas Skateboarding, the first woman to join the team

While portraying Nora Vasconcellos's story it's impossible not to reflect on the role of women in this sport, especially its change. As recounted by the American skater, her deal with adidas is a milestone that recognizes skateboarding as a job with its rights. At the same time, Vasconcellos goes on to become a role model for thousands of boys and above all girls from all over the world, who are often lacking female skaters as reference points. Her contract with adidas reflects the evolution the skate scene is going through. A few years ago going to a skate park could be an intimidating experience for many girls eager to learn new tricks but as French skater Shani Bru told us a few months ago the situation has definitely changed: more and more girls skate today, they are not afraid to go to a skate park, they create real and close crews, thanks to social media every wall between pro skaters and amateurs and fans have fallen. 

The inequality that still exists between men and women in the skate world is not in the skate parks, but at the top of the industry. 

But what I laugh about is that you have an industry that’s all dudes – they own the brands, they are the team managers – now understanding that the female market is fucking insane. Who’s really spending money? Women are. 

Back in July 2018, Vasconcellos unveiled her first signature shoe, a periwinkle Matchcourt RX enriched by a white artwork depicted by the skater herself. Now the skater presents her collection designed with adidas Skateboarding releasing in the next few days. A unisex proposal in which stand out the pants, designed to be worn both at the skate park and on a date, designed to fit also taller and curvy female skaters. The nuances are soft and very delicate, purple for the pants and yellow for the fleece. This time Nora has added her touch on another sneaker, the 3MC, enriched by the writing Pembroke, Vasconcellos native town, and her birth year. 

Winner of a world championship, protagonists of Welcome Skateboards and Thrasher Magazine, main star of a short documentary directed by Giovanni Reda, "the way she skates and controls the board is iconic – she’s very graceful, but powerful at the same time", said Lacey Baker, one of the best skaters in the world. Vasconcellos is now getting ready for a historic event, Tokyo Olympic Games, an event that not all skaters are approaching in the same way. 

I listen to interviews that some girls do and know they’re bullshitting. I compete against girls half my age, who have private skateparks in their yard that cost up to a quarter-million dollars. I just laugh about it. The amount of girls I’ve seen come and go – ‘the best of the best’ – I just laugh. You can tell when people are doing it for the wrong reasons. I hate that shit, but my whole thing is that it’s not going to work. This is skateboarding. You can’t fake it. 

The Nora Vasconcellos adidas Skateboarding collection will be available from October 17 on the website of the brand