Following Olympian Sky Brown’s success in Tokyo this year as she became the youngest ever Olympic Team GB medallist by bagging bronze in skateboarding online searches for lessons in the sport have gone up 150% with more women than ever wanting to try their hand at it.
Professional skateboarder, entrepreneur and mum Stefani Nurding took up the sport when she was 18 and although skateboarding has been very male dominated throughout her career she has been pleasantly surprised at the change in attitudes she has seen towards women in the sport since Brown’s Olympic performance.
Nurding has partnered with Samsung KX and filmed a kickflip tutorial on the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 phone for people to watch and get inspired.
The 33-year-old explained why she wanted to carry on skateboarding despite the gender divide in the sport, spoke about how it feels to be a role model for young girls and revealed what it would mean to her to be a part of Paris 2024.
How and why did you start skateboarding?
I learnt some of the basics as a kid like dropping in and turning around at the age of 10, but after a bad fall, my mum was not keen on me doing it. It wasn’t until much later, around the age of 18 - after doing a summer of working and surfing in Newquay, that I picked it back up. I was working and living in a hotel where they had a mini ramp, and I was lucky to see a lot of good skaters skating it and it really gave me the bug for it.
When did you realise that you could make a career in the sport?
I got contacted by a well-known UK surf and skate brand who were offering to pay me to be on their team, I had had sponsors for snowboarding before who took me on trips and supported me with boards but no one who was offering me a contract. After securing some paid sponsorship I was also offered some other opportunities and would be travelling weekly from Plymouth to London, to skate and model for brands.
What's been the proudest moment in your career so far?
I would say that it has been starting my own brand. I had been unhappy with the industry for how it both portrayed and ignored women. Even when we did get a look in, it was always from a man’s perspective of what was relevant. I am not a negative person, so it really was a great feeling for me to be able to start Salon Skateboards and do something positive to create change instead of feeling stuck about it.
Skateboarding is quite male dominated, but did that intimate you at all or did that inspire you and make you want to push on and keep going with the sport?
It definitely propelled me forward. I had a lot of challenges, and I still experience discrimination daily on my Instagram and Tiktok. In the early days I felt really unaccepted by ever just fit in with that typical skate style. However, I did sometimes receive messages from supportive women, saying how I’d inspired them to start. I’m now getting those messages more so than ever before, and it’s a great feeling to know that someone might have started to enjoy skateboarding because of me.
More women want to get involved in skateboarding than ever before, but what could be done to attract even more women and get girls interested and involved at a young age?
I used to be really anti the idea of an all-girls day because I felt that they should just get stuck in like I did. As I’ve got a bit older and more aware of other people’s confidence, I can see that all-girls days are a safe space for women to try skateboarding, which is a really great thing. I think if skateparks are really interested in encouraging more women and girls to give it a try then these types of sessions are hugely beneficial.
Why do you think more people want to get involved and how much of an impact has Sky Brown’s Olympic performance had on this?
I was filming a clip for Tiktok the other day near my house and some young men assumed I was professional; this has pretty much never happened my entire career (they always assume I can’t skate). I actually had to take a minute to take it in and I think that is a direct result of Sky’s win. I think that is has already been so positive for women in the UK and will hopefully inspire a lot of young women to not only get involved but also to take it further.
How do you unwind from your busy life of being a pro skater, a mum and CEO of your business Salon Skateboards?
I don’t do a lot of unwinding if I’m honest, maybe a cup of tea and some yoga in the evenings or early mornings but otherwise I am pretty much on Go all the time (which I’m sure most parents can relate to). It’s okay though, I absolutely love what I’m doing and am so grateful I can have the life that I have created.
What would it mean to you to be able to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris?
It would be a real honour for me to represent Team GB. I have been competing my whole skate career and I think the Olympics would be such an amazing experience, and also to show other girls from my city that you can start skating outside your house in St Budeaux, in Plymouth, and end up an Olympian.
How does it feel to be a role model for young girls?
Recently it has been crazy, I usually skate in south London and have had people stop me in the street to say they follow me and love my page, and that they tried skating because of it. It’s so amazing to think that what I am doing has made a difference to someone’s life. I actually get a lot of messages from people of all genders saying that they feel I represent something different which gives them confidence to wear what they want to and be a bit more adventurous, and so this has been really amazing to hear.
What's the biggest myth around skateboarding that you'd like to bust?
People are always so nervous and self-conscious when they come to try and are really worried what others will think. Usually, people are just very happy to see someone trying and secondly everyone is so worried about themselves that they rarely would have time to think too much about what you are doing. No one is born being able to ride a skateboard and all the people you see have gone through the early difficult stages, so just keep at it.
Could you tell us more about your partnership with Samsung KX?
I absolutely loved working with Samsung KX to create my Kickflip tutorial on their content hub and sharing my skills that I’ve learnt over the years. The experience space is all about encouraging people to learn new passions, and as a skater, I’ve always wanted to push people out of their comfort zones and encourage them to try something new. So, it was the perfect project for me!
What was it like filming the Kickflip tutorial on the Samsung KX content hub?
It was great! The Kickflip is the trick which so many people ask me about – so it had to be the one that I taught! It was actually surprisingly easy to film, as I used their new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 phone which basically lets you fold it in half (into Flex mode) to capture angles which you normally wouldn’t be able to film. Also, you can shoot in self-timer by just waving your hand in front of the camera, so basically it can capture your Kickflip whilst you’re in the air!
Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.
Tagged in Olympics