My First Skateboard Lesson with Legend Steve Olson

Céline SS 2011 Campaign © Juergen Teller

Upon my recent return from snowboarding, and at the on-set of spring, I found myself at a loss for an opportunity to hone my boarding craft in the off-season. Unwilling to take an eight-month sabbatical from the sport, I entertained momentary flirtations with a snowboard simulator but wondered about its ability to give me anything more than a mediocre core workout, one easily matched by a simple sit-up regime. I needed to substitute snowboarding with something that required similar movement and a push outside of my comfort zone. I decided to take up skateboarding.

Having no idea about which skateboard would work best for me, I chose a cute looking board by Moxie Girl (not to be confused with Roxy) and used the ballet bar in my dance studio to pull myself along the hardwood floor. To my credit, I was fearless from the start and even attempted several kick flips in the foyer, which I had dutifully studied on You Tube. However, when the board suddenly flew out from under my feet with reckless abandon, I concluded that some lessons might be required.

As it turned out, a friend of mine, born-and-bred California girl, had an in with the local surfer/skater community and a black book of professional skating contacts.  Without long consideration she decided that her good friend, Steve Olson would love to teach me and told me to email him.

Stacy Peralta

Olson interviewed me via telephone before we met, asking me a variety of questions from what type of helmet and padding I had, to how strong my bones were and how flexible I was. Before agreeing, he kept repeating that he “didn’t normally teach” which I thought was strange since I had assumed he must be a professional skateboard instructor. Yet he agreed to meet for a trial lesson.

Professional he was. I was later informed he was a former World Champion. No pressure on me, then.

Met a Sk8er Boy

Upon arrival at my first lesson, Olson took one look at my cute little Moxie board and shook his head as if to imply I had brought shame upon the sport. He spent about ten minutes explaining why this was not a well designed board, though he admitted he could see how the graphic would have appealed to me.

Steve Olson © Alex Olson

He then moved on to my attire. I was reprimanded for wearing Ugg boots and the suggestion that I trade them for my Dior biker boots was equally unwelcome. Apparently, I needed to purchase Vans.

“So have you stood on a skateboard before?” he asked. I truthfully admitted that, other than my few attempts in the dance studio, I found the prospect to be a little scary, but inspired by snowboarding, I was now up for the challenge.

© Steve Olson

By the end of our trial lesson, I found Olson to be an excellent teacher. He was methodical, patient and very encouraging. He didn’t push me too fast, yet kept me learning at a pace that promised consistent rewards. I was inspired and I think he was as well. After all, considering the fact that Olson “didn’t usually teach” he seemed to enjoy the opportunity to give constructive criticism and impart year’s worth of wisdom upon an enthusiastic blank canvas. I promised to be the perfect muse.

Jay Adams

Skateboarding, particularly the classic styles that inspire me, is about movement and balance. Being a dancer, I found that I already had some of the principle elements of the sport engrained. Watching skaters like Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta, one can’t help but be seduced by their effortless fluidity.

Becoming proficient at skateboarding takes both passion and commitment. I never knew if I would enjoy the sport, but as it turned out, I felt this drive to be skateboarding every day and missed it when I didn’t get the opportunity to practice. I don’t know where the passion has come from, but the determination to master the movements that I find so inspiring now feels part of my soul.

Chloë Sevigny

The popularity of skateboarding is as big as soccer or baseball in terms of participation. There are thousands of people around the world who skateboard for a living in one way or another and there are more skateboard websites and magazines than ever before.

Kirsten Lea

Sadly, when it comes to skater girl fashion, the current marketplace leaves a lot to be desired.
There are extremely few females who look beautiful, elegant and stylish while on their board. I can find only one example, possibly the most stylish female in the world, Chloë Sevigny. Let’s be fair, Chloë looks beyond cool no matter what she wears.

Stacy Peralta

Now, a month into my training, I’m spending more time working on my core muscles to ease the strain on my lower legs. So far, I’ve had no bad falls, which I credit partly to my cautious nature and mostly to Olson, who is always on standby in case I start to wobble.

I’m interested to see how the skateboarding will have helped my snowboarding skills. If nothing else, my confidence and fearlessness is steadily increasing.

Since I live in California, come summer time, I’m sure that I will be embarking on the inevitable surf lessons and who knows, by the end of the year I could be the new face of Roxy. (Not to be confused with Moxie).

  • Steve Olsen is legendary.  My first exposure to him was in Shorty Skateboard’s classic skate movie, “Fufill The Dream.”  That was like 1990.

  • Learning a new and exciting sport from the best is the only way and it is the Kirsten Lea’s way! I am very proud of your courage, drive, strength, and consistency! Great job Kirsten! 🙂

    • Kirsten Lea

      Thank You Leo Zen. I looked you up and you are the best Yoga & Dance teacher in the world. Would you be interested in collaborating on a fitness DVD focusing on a hard core work out, specifically for girls who love to snowboard, skateboard and surf?

  • Spencer Adams

    Great article. I’m a aspiring downhill skateboarder and I am teaching my sister how to skate.

    • Kirsten

      Any relation to Jay?

  • Great article Kirsten 🙂