Leticia Bufoni, Brazil’s 5-time X Games gold medalist and eventual Olympian on the 2020 Olympic postponement, talks breaking into the boys club and skateboarding in whatever the hell she wants.
But first, the basics:
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Top 3 Career Highlights:
- Moving to California from Brazil at 14 to pursue skateboarding
- Winning debut Street League Skateboarding title in 2015
- Winning first place in Skateboard Street at the 2013 X Games
Men’s Journal: How did you feel about the postponement of the 2020 Olympics, given all the training and mental preparation?
Leticia Bufoni: We’d been getting ready for the past two or three years and everyone was so ready for this moment; it getting postponed a year—it kind of sucks. At the same time, we have more time to train. I think skateboarding, in general, will get more attention.
How do you see skateboarding fitting into the Olympics?
Skateboarding has changed a lot in the past few years, and it’s become a more serious sport. Before, it was a lifestyle and now it’s a sport. Skateboarding is finally getting the attention it deserves because we train like athletes; we compete, eat healthy, and do everything that a real athlete does. Skateboarding is a sport, and now, people finally recognize that.
What is the physical preparation?
I love working out, so I’ll pretty much do everything. Most of the exercise I do is focused on skateboarding, so I do balance training, a lot of stretching, along with ankle and hip mobility.
How did you first get interested in skateboarding?
I started skating around the age 9 or 10. All my friends bought skateboards, then I had nobody to play soccer with; I started skating so I wasn’t alone. I was the only girl skating and I was definitely fighting all the time with the boys, because that’s what kids do.
Having girls look up to me is a dream, because I didn’t have that when I was skateboarding.
Has anything changed since?
When I started skateboarding, women didn’t have the support that we do today. We didn’t have that many contests or sponsors. Now that we have more women in the sport, we have bigger events, and it’s getting easier and easier to compete. But I remember when I first started skating, it was super hard, and there was no support.
After uprooting and moving to Los Angeles at age 14, was it also hard to leave school and pursue competitive skateboarding?
I love skateboarding so much. I knew it was what I wanted to do for life. I knew I had to stop school and focus on competing because you can always go back to school but, skateboarding, if you don’t do it when you’re young, it gets harder and harder.
You incorporate fashion and beauty into skateboarding. How is that received by other skaters?
Since I like to work out so much, I was always wearing fitness clothing. One day, I started skating in leggings, and everyone was hating on me. They said it didn’t look good, I was going to get hurt, that the outfits were too tight. It’s comfortable. You’ve got to be comfortable. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. Now everyone is kind of used to seeing me skate in workout clothes, so they don’t even say anything anymore. There’s a new generation now and they’re all wearing leggings and starting to become more feminine.
Think you started a trend?
I think so. Before, I had never seen any girls skating in leggings. And back in the day, everyone was sort of tomboy with their outfits. Now everyone is wearing makeup and getting their hair done to go skating. I’ve been doing this because I want to look good. I want to look like a girl and rip on a skateboard.
How’s it feel to have other skaters, and women, look to you for inspiration?
From where I came from to where I am now, having girls look up to me is a dream. I want to keep inspiring more girls. I want to be a role model. I want to be someone others can look up to because I didn’t have that when I was skateboarding.
Read more about Leticia Bufoni in our Olympics package The Athletes and Sports You Can’t Miss at the Tokyo Games