Betty Shreds: An Interview with Katie Neil Neilson

by Blair Butler

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Blair: Hey Katie, thanks soooo much for being a rip chick & shreddin’ out there! What got you started in Longboarding and how long have you been doing it for?

Katie: Well I’ve pretty much always skateboarded, but five years ago(wow!) when the rain hit I headed to an indoor park in North Vancouver, and the shop had a heavy longboard influence. I remember skating to the train with Mike McGoldrick one time, I was on a street skate and he was showing me the route. I was stoked on how he took a corner that I thought was so gnar! Within a couple weeks Benny Bailz had me up in the British Properties skating them every way I shouldn’t have been, and then I did a few races. For the first year, I wouldn’t be seen in public with a longboard, it was like this secret affair of mine on the weekends.

Blair: What is your favorite style of riding?

Katie: I would have to say I highly favor fast, technical runs
that require a lot of drifting and speed control. Wheels are pretty much my favorite thing in the world and
destroying them is extremely satisfying.

Blair: What’s your favorite part of racing & can you share your biggest accomplishments while shredding?

Katie: My favorite part of racing? Probably the campsites haha!  For real though, it’s been interesting racing the past four seasons. I had a lot of learning to do and I certainly did it. I’m really looking forward to my upcoming season though. It will be my 5th and I have a goal of making it
to the top ¼ of the open class in a few events, and hopefully in the World Cup Points Standings as well. This time around I know the roads I am racing, and I am a lot calmer than I was in the recent past. I guess injury had its way with humbling me. My biggest accomplishments have been at the hands of the days where I decide to just have more fun than anything. Usually that’s when I end up actually staying on my board from start to finish and doing really well. Newtons in Australia was cool, I won the women’s class and qualified 26th over in men’s before
I was even skating my fastest laps!!! I wish I could
re-qualify and see where I was day two.

Blair: You recently switched your sponsorship from Sector 9 to Landyatchz. We love the guys at Landyatchz thus far hahaha, what’s the biggest difference you’re already noticing?

Katie: The biggest difference would just be the intimacy I get from being in the same environment as those who are supporting me. It makes it a lot easier for me to: a) get my boards customized to my fit, b) form solid relationships with those I have to work closest with, and c) probably the biggest by far is that I am undoubtedly more motivated to skate now that I have this team surrounding me.
It’s translating well in my skateboarding. The general
public will see soon enough.

Blair: What do you think about the Longboarding commuinty as a whole?

Katie: As a whole? Well, I love my coast family to death through and through. We are hands down the fastest and most tight knit family around. Everyone looks out for one another here, and always makes sure that no one is left behind.   As a whole though, I’m pretty down with the international community. It’s cool because everyone is so outcasted as longboarders that when they finally do find each other they hold on with a certain sense of decency and acceptance, careful not to let these new friends disappear. For me though, I’m a skateboarder; I always have been and I always will be, so I’m not entirely down with some of the nerding out that happens, as susceptible to it as I may be at times. It will be interesting to see how it develops from here on out though, ‘cause we are, quite simply, growing too large to continue being the extremely tight-knit community that we are. I’m sure we’ll see some more vocal division soon between the styles. It would be nice to not, but people are always gonna have to define themselves as something, especially as this whole longboard thing goes ‘mainstream’ and you’re not an individual anymore.

Blair: What would you like to tell all the Betty Shredders out there, especially the new Bettys’?

Katie: Push your limits while staying in your comfort zone for quite some time. Playing on open roads is not the place to practice and push limits. Find a park, or a path, or if you do have a quiet street, make sure you have spotters that know what they are doing and can confidently control a road.  Accidents happen very, very fast, much faster than you will ever give credit for, so don’t put yourself in a situation you can’t get yourself out of. I remember my quite painful learning curve like it was this morning because it’s only been quite recent that I’ve finally started to skate down my hills with consistency and safety as my priority over gnar/shred/speed. Looking back on what I have put myself through, my body is sore, my mind is calm, and I’m at a point in my skating where it’s easy for me to be a hypocrite because I love what we do. But I am terrified of beginners not taking proper precautions. Also ladies, often things like knee pads get sacrificed in a quest for beauty while slaying down hills, but I’ll tell you what, my legs look horrid, and I wish I would have put knee pads on sooner. This is not about looking good, it’s about getting to the bottom as fast as you SAFELY can, and being able to do it again. So with that being said, slow down and don’t do something that your heart is telling you is stupid just to try and prove yourself in front of a crew.

 

Blair: What would you like to tell all the guys…haha, and how often do you school them? In a nice way of course.

Katie: It’s normal for me to show up to some random town in the states and be faster than the locals; unless we are talking California or Colorado. Where I come from though, the boys I chase down hills are very, very fast, and because of this I have created an entirely different standard as to what “good” is. To me, “good” is probably “pro” to an outsider. As far as Vancouver goes, Grom boys, you have ‘til you’re 18 to get better than me, and any guy who’s been skating for a season and is serious about it should be able to skate side by side with me no problem. Don’t get me wrong here, I take pride in being good at what I do. I’m not some girl hating sexist, but I am very traditional, and I do expect the boys to be bigger, better, stronger, and faster than me. At this point, I don’t know
if I’m talking about skating or life though…

Blair: Sweet, thanks for your time. Can you pass a bit of your inspiration along, perhaps your favorite quote?

Katie: “Faster and faster till the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death” …safely, of course.

 

Photography by Les Robertson 

Interviewed by Blair Butler

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