- 1. How long have you been freestyle skateboarding?
About two and a half years now – I started skateboarding during the 2020 covid lockdowns and went straight to freestyle. Glad the pandemic hobby stuck.
- 2. What is your current board setup?
I switch between the Waltz Huntington 7,4” deck, Independent 109 trucks, and Donut Wheels, and a custom-made Gary Hillock deck. I’m not very picky, just give me a narrow single-kick board (7,3″-7,4″) with a tiny wheelbase (under 12,75″), barely any concave, and a cute graphic… okay, maybe I am a little picky.
- 3. What is your current favourite trick, as well as one you’re close to getting?
I just really love Caspers! And while I started getting “the running (wo)man” and rail toe spins more consistently recently, I just want to focus on smoother, quicker, and more complex footwork. The stuff that you don’t just drill in hyperfocus for 3 hours, get a single sloppy one, and are done with, but rather bits where little increments in the quality of a single step can change the way a line feels.
- 4. What music are you currently listening to if any?
Since I committed to the Again! Freestyle footwork challenge, I am listening to the playlist the guys curated and will probably end up hating every one of those songs. Usually, I just listen to angry Antifa German hip hop when skating, or a potpourri of upbeat tunes. It would be funny if a category of freestyle competitions would be Freestyle Karaoke, where a participant just has to dance to a song they hear for the first time. Have Tony Gale skate to ABBA, and Burns to Eurotrash techno is what’m saying.
- 5. Who was the first person to introduce you to freestyle skateboarding?
Jonny Giger of all people. When looking for “flatland skate tricks” after deciding to learn skateboarding and realizing I’ll never have the courage to do transition or park stuff, I saw a clip where he was trying out stuff from the Günter Mokulys freestyle book – which I then immediately bought off eBay. I joined Instagram shortly after, and Mike Osterman and Dominique Day took me under their supportive wings and helped me stay enthusiastic about freestyle.
- 6. I shared some posts where you spoke out against the World Round Up. Do you want to go more in-depth on that, as we have seen a lot of people stand up with you to boycott the WRU this year?
Let me preface this by saying that my call to boycott the WRU is not meant as a personal critique of the organizers. The people involved may be good guys with the best intentions, and their contributions to the discipline are relevant. But it is also important to acknowledge that well- intentioned people can, (and often do) enforce or enable serious systemic problems. Neither their age nor their accomplishments over the last decades abolish the organizers of the WRU from acting responsibly and in accordance with the current values of the freestyle community.
One of these values is inclusivity. The fact that a sizable sum (14k $) is to be distributed amongst ten pro skaters and five masters without acknowledging or rewarding other participants is unacceptable. The argument that freestyle competitions used to only reward pro skaters, and that there aren’t any women pros – shrug – is at best backwardly short-sighted and in fact, sexist.
While feminal* skaters are said to be “allowed” to join the masters or pro division, this is to a certain degree at odds with the existence of women’s divisions as a whole. (I am using the word “feminal” as coined in Dani Abulhawa’s book “Skateboarding and femininity”, instead of “women” to include all people who aren’t cishet men. There is a wider conversation here about whether women’s divisions should still exist in freestyle skateboarding, but this topic is quite complex, as it is linked to the transparency of scoring methodologies, women’s presence in jury committees, the necessity for representation, and a number of other factors that would constitute the base for a whole other interview.)
My issue with the WRU is much simpler than that: only awarding money prizes to pro skaters and masters instead of saying “the best three people in every division receive a monetary reward” is exclusivist. When everyone jokingly agrees that there is no money in being a Pro freestyler anyway, the financial reward becomes essentially symbolic. This symbolism is important however because the WRU sets an example, and for better or worse, it is very visible. A lot of very young men, who don’t yet have the resources, the knowledge, or the empathy to be enraged by sexism, will see, accept and absorb these values, and women will remain a marginalized group within the discipline. Many young women who join might also internalize their status as secondary agents simply because they have not yet become politicized regarding gender equality.
Arguing that this is the way it is, simply because this is how things have always been done, is symptomatic of the anachronism and the obsolescence that lie at the heart of the WRU as an institution. An organization stuck in the 1970s can not align with the community’s current needs or the discourse around modern freestyle skateboarding. The organizers could distribute funding and opportunities within the community, supporting emerging events and competitions that are nurturing the DIY, anarchic, and inclusive spirit of freestyle. (See: Tucson Thunderdome, Euro Freestyle Championships, Urban-Rural Ride Freestyle, Terror-Firma, the Leeds Freestyle meetup, the Slatina freestylers, etc.) Instead, The WRU presents itself as a petrified old boy’s club, that is either unwilling or unable to change or adapt to the contemporary shifts within the scene.
I would also urge all Pro and Masters skaters to make a statement at the WRU if they stand against the marginalization of feminal skaters in this competition. It is not exclusively the responsibility of minority groups to create a better system for themselves – the people “in power”, who have the resources and the privileges to do so, have to become active and do better. If they don’t, they will become obsolete, and it is now only a matter of which side the organizers will stand on when the WRU inevitably dissolves into irrelevance.
- 7. Who is your current favourite freestyle skater or skaters?
Daniel Adam, hands down. He is the perfect mix of blow your mind technical tricks (that i suspect are CGI) and snappy creative footwork (that i suspect he made a faustian deal with the devil for). I’d watch him just walk the dogs for hours, it’s just a pleasure to see. There are so many others, of course, like Nick Angeloni, Fawian Friedberger, Misato Jitomatita and Ryugo Tanabe but this list could go on indefinitely. We don’t see him skate often, as he is investing all his time and energy in the young freestyle generation, but every time Marius Constantin gets going I’m mesmerized.
- 8. What would you like to see happen in the freestyle community?
I want to see a more diverse crowd join the scene, but when I look at group photos from say, Paderborn a few years ago and the Euro Freestyle Championships today, it’s visible that we’re on the right path. Slowly, but we’re getting there. Also, I’d love to have more events, workshop camps, and competitions happening around Europe and I want more tiny single-kick decks made. I want the community to maintain its generosity and welcoming attitude toward newcomers. It’s all pretty great already.
- 9. How was skating at the Euro Freestyle contest? It looks like a super great time.
As a mediocre rookie in their late thirties, I was wary of joining at first, but I haven’t felt awkward, embarrassed, or unwelcome for a single second there. It was all pure stoke and love. A particular highlight was being part of the jury team – the work the euros team put into a fair and transparent scoring methodology was astonishing! The best part was sharing the court with all these amazing skaters during the warm-up jams. I mean when else would I get to accidentally slap freestyle legend Lillis Akesson and him subsequently offering to let me try his board?
- 10. Any last words or shoutouts/thoughts?
There are a lot of people to acknowledge for welcoming me into the community and sharing their time, knowledge, and cat pictures with me but there’s an extra big Thank You for Chris Heise because one would be hard-pressed to find a dude that’s more enthusiastic, positive and loving than him. Then there’s the Freestyle Coven, of course – we’ve gotten quiet on the Instagram account front because jobs and life and honestly social media is exhausting, but the group chat with the ladies is always a safe haven and a happy place for me. Becoming part of the Freestyle community has shown me the difference between fitting in, and belonging somewhere.
How lucky was I, to pick up a dorky niche pandemic hobby and stumble straight into the arms of so many cool, intelligent, and talented people?
Check out what Monica is up to at the following Instagram handle: @monicakes.skates
One response to “Monica Tușinean”
Reblogged this on thInkStains and commented:
Another great interview is up. Swing by and read about it on the Freestyle Video Mag!