I had an opportunity to meet up with Saskia at Shred Expo in February. At 21, she’s on her way to making a serious name in long distance. We wanted to share her insights.
What is your skate background?
My skating started when I was about 5 years old. I was always on rollerskates and got into ice skating when I was 7. I participated in marathons and the normal speed-skating distances like 500, 1000, 1500 and 3000 meters. I also did a lot of in-line skating, cycling, swimming and running.
When I stopped ice skating in 2012, I got into longboarding. My first board was a pretty cheap one from a local store, but a week later I knew I loved it and got a better board. I started pushing around town, commuting a bit and then I bought a downhill deck after meeting the Dutch Downhill Division community. Done that for two seasons, but due to some injuries on my ankle I couldn’t skate so much.
Then I thought to strengthen my ankle by doing long distance training. I got my first LDP setup and then I fell in love with long distance skating itself. A video of the 24- hour Ultraskate made me want to try and I trained hard to get there. The first time I skated more than 10 kilometers I was truly done. But by increasing mileage gradually I could skate much farther than I ever imagined
Where have you competed and what races have you won?
I have competed in races in the Netherlands, Germany and the USA. My first race was the Dutch Pyramid Uphill Push Race (DPUPC) in 2016. It’s a short sprint around a lake and then up a pyramid shaped hill. That was the first competition I ever did on a board and I loved it. After that I went to the quarter ultraskate (6 hours) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was my first bigger race and I was super nervous, but it was also the first time I met skaters from another country and I ended up second! I was training to do my first 24- hour Ultraskate in Miami.
Getting the money together to go to Florida was a thing, but it worked out eventually. It was my first time out of Europe and it felt super awesome. The race started quite well and I held a high pace. Unfortunately I had two bad crashed at night. So I accidentally stood on my front wheel, crashed and hit my knee and shin. I was almost on the point to give up, but seeing everyone passing by inspired me to keep going and I hit my goal of at least 150 miles and I got 5th in the ranking there.
I was super stoked after that one and trained hard for the next race, a quarter Ultraskate in Kienbaum, Germany. I won that one and beat my own personal best. After that race I was in good shape and there were a few weeks between the Dutch Ultraskate, so I was just maintaining form. The Dutch Ultra is super special to me, since I skated my world record there at 422.10 km/ 262 miles. It was a tough race, especially at night when the track seems like it’s just you and your board on a road. I know the track really well because I used to cycle there in my childhood. I never thought hitting a WR and going to 262 miles would be possible, but due to some luck and an awesome support team it happened. After the ultra in 2017 there was a marathon organized by the Misfits skatecrew, and another quarter Ultra in the Netherlands in November. Now we’re in off season, but spring 2018 is coming!
What is is that makes LDP so interesting for you?
To me LDP means exploration, love, family and freedom. On a board you can go wherever you want and see the world. It has brought me so much and I can’t imagine a life without it anymore. The whole scene is supportive and it’s easy to reach everyone.
LDP is also my general way of getting around to nearly all my appointments. It’s pretty much glued to me and people are already asking what happened if I don’t have my board with me.
What are some of the physical and mental challenges of pushing for 24 hours straight?
On the physical side: It is important to listen to your body, it’s easy to overuse something. Of course you have to be very strong in general, and you need to have a good technique while pushing or pumping to save energy. The challenge is to keep going and not take too many (long) rests, since that cools you down and then you’ll have a hard time to get into the rhythm again. The longer you’re into the race, the more often you’ll see others get into their chairs or tents to have a break. The track gets less crowded and you might end up on your own.
This is where the mental part comes in: if you think about giving up, you will. Keep your thoughts on the positive side and you can break any limit. I think the mental side is equally – if not more – important than the physical side, since you can be super strong, but if you give up you’re not going to hit your goal!
What is the future for LDP?
To me, the future of LDP lies in organizing more events and getting new people into the scene. Races, clubs, gatherings, fun days, touring, there’s so much to think about. I feel like a lot of people are seriously interested in it, but just never got in contact with it. I hope to gather some more people by doing projects with (young) students about longboarding, as they are the future for the scene.
How do you feel about the Olympics… could LDP be a part of it?
I my opinion LDP can be a part of the Olympics, and I’m hoping that we could get an Olympic marathon for distance longboarding. There’s not that much needed (just a closed track or the course for the Olympic runner’s marathon) and everyone knows what a marathon is. I think a lot of people will love it and would want to try skating when they see it on the tv.
However the Ultraskate should remain the same in my opinion, and the community shouldn’t be divided in “I’m from this country and you’re from that country so we can’t work together”. The family is more important than the racing, but I think the Olympics are a cool way to gather more people and spread the stoke.
Tell us about your set up!
My current setup consists of:
- Rocket Exodus platform
- G|Bomb S-fork proto
- G|Bomb TT-s
- G|Bomb Infinity bolts
- G|Bomb Ceramic bearings
- Don’t Trip Poppy SP
- Riptide 80a fatcone/ 80a barrel
- Riptide 80a cone/ 80a cube
- Riptide In-Side Footstop
- MOB Griptape
- Orangatang Kegels 80 mm 80a
- Proto rear wheels
What’s life like for you in the Netherlands? What do you study and why?
Life in the Netherlands as a student is pretty busy, haha! I study Landscape and Environment Management in Delft. I learn a lot about water management, climate adaptation, ecology, laws, doing research, nature management and computer programs like GIS. Also we have a lot of excursions. I commute a lot by board, bus and train due to the fact that I moved to the east side of the country for my internships. I like this study because it’s future-oriented and we’re outside a lot. I’m in my last year and will finish this summer. So this year I will (hopefully) graduate and the plan is to do a premaster next year, followed by a double master at the University of Wageningen.
Any final comments?
If you don’t have a decent LDP board yet, get one and enjoy the ride!