For the first time in history, skateboarding is in the Olympics.
In order to commemorate the occasion, before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Olympics, Skateboarding Hall of Fame Icon, Jeff Ho, interviewed Skateboarding Olympian, Bryce Wettstein.
In her earliest days of skateboarding, Bryce Wettstein started out skating pools with her dad, and soon her family had built a wooden bowl in the backyard for the whole family and friends to skate together. At age seven, she began skateboarding competitively at her first skate contest at the Vans Girls Combi Pool Classic. As both a surfer and a skater, Bryce’s fluid style and creative approach quickly gained attention, taking her around the world to compete with the world’s best, as she amassed points to become one of the top women park skateboarders in the world. With a commitment to keeping skateboarding fun, Bryce has established herself as a positive role model and consistently spends time working with non-profit organizations and encouraging other girls to skate. Now Bryce Wettstein is on her way to the Olympics, as World Skate’s highest ranking Team USA Women’s Park Skateboarder, and breaking ground as one of the first 80 skateboarders in the world to ever compete in the Olympics.
Nearly thirty years before Bryce Wettstein was born, surfskate pioneer, Jeff Ho, was doing his part to get skateboarding rolling from the Zephyr Surfboard Shop in Santa Monica, California. As a surfer, skateboarder, board shaper and Zephyr Surf Shop proprietor, the Zephyr Competition Team was established by adding the hottest skaters from the Dogtown area to the crew. What happened next was a flashpoint in skateboarding that has become a story for the ages, as well as an award-winning documentary [Dogtown and Z-Boys] and a major motion picture [Lords of DogTown]. A literal revolution in skateboarding began when the Z-Boys brought an aggressive and unique approach to the scene at the Bahne/Cadillac National Skateboard Championships in 1975 in Del Mar, California, disrupting the status quo, and changing the ethos of skateboarding into the future.
As skateboarding is about to make history again, in a way it never has before, this is a landmark in the lexicon of time. This talk between two surfers and skaters, at opposite ends of the age chart, yet on the same end as far as sharing a passion for skateboarding and surfing, just goes to prove that the multi-generational impact, culture and influence of skateboarding can change the world.
JEFF HO: Hey, Bryce, how’s it going?
BRYCE WETTSTEIN: Hi, Jeff. I’m good. How are you?
JEFF: Good. I heard you went surfing this morning.
BRYCE: I went to Grandview. It was really fun. You surf too, right?
JEFF: Yes. I surfed there in the ‘60s and ‘70s at Grandview, Beacons, Stone Steps, D Street, and Moonlight and I used to like to surf Pipes. How did you get into skateboarding?
BRYCE: My mom and dad used to skate all of the time. I also have a little sister and we all still skate together. I got into it because one day my dad was going to go skate a pool. I was six years old and I had no idea how he was going to skate in a pool because pools are usually filled with water. We went to go skate it and it was so interesting and different. I hadn’t ever done anything like that. From there, my dad and I decided to build a mini ramp in our backyard. My mom and dad and I would skate it with friends and that evolved into a wooden bowl, called the Iguana Bowl, named after our iguana named Spike. We’d have family skate sessions and it was a skate place, like nothing else, especially when it’s in your backyard. We grew our love for skateboarding there. That bowl has so much history. We used to have all these sessions where everyone would come over. Over the years, the Iguana Bowl has meant so much.
JEFF: Nice. Does your little sister skate too?
BRYCE: Yes. I have a little sister named Summer and she is so good. When she was two, we would sit her on a little board in the bowl and push her back and forth. Pretty soon she was skating with us and doing rock n’ rolls and airs.
JEFF: Cool. Your whole family skates. How has that helped you with your skateboarding?
BRYCE: It’s definitely the foundation of my skateboarding and who I am today, because we’ve all pushed each other and we’re working hard together. That’s the beauty of sharing the same passion. We all support each other through skateboarding. When I started skateboarding, my dad would spot me on tricks and help me face my fears of learning new tricks, like back disasters and airs. My mom would face her fears and drop into the bowls too. She was unstoppable. We were all growing together and I’m so grateful for that.
JEFF: Do you remember your earliest time surfing?
BRYCE: Yeah. Surfing and skateboarding, like you know, go hand in hand, and my dad and I developed an equal passion for both. I grew up at Grandview Beach and we’d go from surfing to skateboarding and back to surfing. My dad would push me into little white water waves and then I started doing competitions with my friends. It was the same with skateboarding. Surfing and skateboarding were really intertwined, for me. My dad is a really good surfer and my mom would surf and we’d go to Hawaii. By age 12, I was in love with surfing and skateboarding. My dream was to be a pro surfer and then I was like, “Wait. My dream is to be a pro skater.”
JEFF: Cool. When you were younger, what kind of surfboard did you like and what kind of surfboard are you riding now?
BRYCE: I’ve always surfed shortboards. Right now I’m surfing a 5’10”. For a while, I was doing a lot of competitions, so I’d ride a pintail or swallowtail. I’m usually riding a fish or a swallowtail or a pintail, or whatever the conditions call for, and just having fun with those. One of my family friends shaped me a fish with a big B on it, for the first letter of my name. I’m grateful for all of my surfboards. I had a pink surfboard with flowers on it and it was my favorite when I was seven. I grew up with a family surf shop called Encinitas Surfboards. They have always supported me and my family.
JEFF: Does John still own that shop?
BRYCE: Yes. John still owns it and he still shapes his boards by hand, which is amazing. It’s such a gift.
JEFF: Nice. Do you have a favorite skateboard?
BRYCE: Yeah. I ride an 8.5 [Stereo Skateboards Arrows deck] with MOB griptape and I like to decorate my griptape with flowers and music notes on the griptape.
JEFF: What type of wheels are you riding?
BRYCE: I’m riding Bones Wheels and I’m sponsored by them. They are so cool. I love Bones Wheels and I’ve always ridden Bones Wheels. I ride 56mm Bones Wheels, and I love Lizzie Armanto’s Bones Wheels, so I switch them around.
JEFF: Are you sponsored by McGill’s?
BRYCE: Yeah. Mike McGill is the best. I met him when I was seven. His daughter and I used to skate the YMCA vert ramp. The McGills are so supportive. I have always loved the Bones Brigade and the Z-Boys too. l’ve watched all the videos and movies and seen all the stuff that you guys did in Dogtown. You are my heroes and I also love Rodney Mullen. I just love his story and the way he thinks.
JEFF: Rodney is the best. I can’t say enough about him. Let’s get back to your skateboard. What type of trucks are you using?
BRYCE: I ride Independent Trucks. I’ve always loved the Titanium Hollows 149s.
JEFF: Are you using stock bushings or a different set up?
BRYCE: Sometimes I switch soft and medium bushings around. On my front trucks, I’ll put the soft and medium bushings and then switch it around. Usually, I put two mediums on the bottom trucks and then soft and medium on the top trucks.
JEFF: Is there anyone that you go skating with?
BRYCE: My friend, Poppy [Starr], from Australia, is one of my best friends and we skate together and hang out together. I usually skate with whoever is around. I think that’s the beauty of it. Sometimes you don’t even know the person’s name. You just skate together and have fun.
JEFF: That’s cool. Are you sponsored by any safety gear companies?
BRYCE: Yeah. I’m sponsored by 187 Killer Pads and Triple 8 Helmets. I usually wear a helmet and kneepads. I love flailing around, which results in knee sliding a lot. I’m trying to learn how to run out of them and skate street. I’m trying to learn different mechanisms. Kneepads and a helmet is my go to and I wear Converse shoes.
JEFF: Isn’t Tony Hawk one of your neighbors?
BRYCE: Yeah. It’s crazy. I don’t know how that happened.
JEFF: Do you ever go to his house to skate?
BRYCE: Yeah. I haven’t been over then in a while, but I used to go over there a lot. I’m friends with his son, Calvin. On Halloween, Tony Hawk usually has a big party. He has a really fun pool filled with water, and he has a diving board that has a Hawk made out of legos on it. Poppy and I used to go over there a lot. There was a time when we’d all go skate his bowl and then we’d all jump into his pool in our clothes. [Laughs]
JEFF: Right on. Is there a crew of girls that you grew up skating with?
BRYCE: Yeah. We used to travel together as a team with Silly Girl and skate and have fun and make cool movies. If you look up Silly Girl on YouTube, we have so many fun memories, especially at the Girls Combi Pool Contest, which is where we all met. My main best friend, who is like my sister, is Sarah Thompson. We still hang out a lot and go skate. Then there’s Jordan Abraham. We used to skate together all the time. Then there’s Nicole and Natalie and they were on the Silly Girl Team. I actually have this really funny picture in my room. It’s us standing against a “Usual Suspects” poster and we’re pretending like we’re in jail, dressed up. I miss all of them. We live kinda far apart now, so it’s hard to meet up all of the time. We definitely still skate and hang out.
JEFF: You mentioned Mike McGill. Has the Bones Brigade and Mike McGill’s McTwist influenced you at all?
BRYCE: Oh my gosh, yes. They were all so young when they were inventing all of these tricks. There was Mike inventing the McTwist. That trick is the most insane thing and he invented that. I think about that all of the time and how they thought so different and how they were so different. They were comedians and they all had different styles and different ways of thinking. Each one of them was unique and their own person and they contributed so much. They impacted the world and made skateboarding what it is.
JEFF: Very cool. Do you remember your earliest skateboard contest?
BRYCE: My earliest skateboarding competition, I was seven years old and I entered the Vans Combi Pool Girls Contest. At the time, that was one of the biggest competitions in the world.
JEFF: That was at the Vans Park in Orange, California?
BRYCE: Yeah. I was doing my little kickturns in the bowl and trying to get tiles and I did my little frontside air early grabs over the little hip. I thought for sure I was going to be on the podium and get a trophy. I was so happy to be there. I thought I was going to get first or third or something and then I got 17th and I was like, “Oh my goodness, I got robbed!” [Laughs] That was one of the first times I’ve been in that environment of skateboarding competition and I met so many new friends. People were cheering you on and you get this big rush of happiness and adrenalin. I was at such a young age and it was all so new to me.
JEFF: At the Vans Combi Pool Girls Contest, Kristy Van Doren and Vans offered equal amounts of prize money for the women and the men. What did you think of that?
BRYCE: That was a big turning point in skateboarding. I was like, “Wow! Now women and men are going to be paid equal amounts of money. Cool! This is the new thing now. We’re all getting paid equally.”
JEFF: Do you like skating in competitions or do you like free skating better?
BRYCE: For me, competition and free skating, each have their own beauty and exhilaration and factors. When I’m in a contest, there’s pressure because I put pressure on myself because I want it so bad. There’s definitely this big adrenalin factor and thinking, “I can do it!” There are so many different emotions that take place. With free skateboarding, you’re in your own element and your own world and everything is subconscious and you’re not really thinking. You’re just kinda painting the world and you’re intact with the world and its beauty. They are two different head spaces, but I enjoy both. With free skateboarding, you’re exploring a new thing and creating. In competition, you’re bringing out what you created and showcasing it to people and trying to skate your best and come home feeling happy with yourself, knowing that you did your best that day. I love them both.
JEFF: Do you like to skate DIY parks and what are your favorite public skateparks? Do you like to skate Burnside or Channel Street or Washington Street?
BRYCE: Yeah. For me, being in a park environment is just a different head space. Perfection is in the eyes of the interpreter. You’re still creating what you want to create, but you get a little more room to do that. If you skate a DIY or a ditch, you’re so much more of the creator. You’re almost tearing things up and creating something more. You’re more of an artist than you are in a park environment. I think both have their own beauty. For me, I love finding a ditch, and skating Washington Street is really fun. You’re skateboarding in the world. It’s not being cut out and mapped and perfect and completely created for you to skate. It’s something that is taking from the world and making it your own, when you’re skating a ditch or a DIY spot. Then again, I love park skateboarding, because you really have room to jump and fly and you have a nice canvas to lay out ideas and bring in ideas without it being completely your own. I love both of them. I like a perfect park sometimes. We get spoiled nowadays because we have nice parks and room to skate everywhere, but nothing beats a nice ditch or DIY spot.
JEFF: What’s your favorite pool or bowl to ride?
BRYCE: Well, it just depends on the day or what mood I’m in. Some days I’ll be totally into skating a ditch or I’ll want to go to the YMCA where there’s a bank or I can air off a hip. Other days, I’ll want to skate a bowl or a mini ramp. The place that I love the best is the YMCA. It’s five minutes from my house and it has this bank and a street course that is like skating a ditch. It’s my favorite thing. It also has the two bowls with orange tiles. I like those orange tiles. It’s like skating on a playground.
JEFF: What kind of coping does that bowl have and what is your favorite coping to ride?
BRYCE: The YMCA pool has pool block coping and I like pool block coping a lot, for grinding, obviously. Nothing beats that sound. I love metal coping too, when you just want to try a new trick. When I’m learning new tricks, I like metal coping for technical things. Both are good though. I definitely like pool coping for grinding and trying to learn different airs and things because it gives you that bump.
JEFF: What do you think of Exposure Skate and what they’ve done for skateboarding?
BRYCE: Exposure Skate has probably done more than any other female skateboarding organization ever. Amelia and Lesli, the founders of Exposure, have brought happiness to girls all over the world. They’ve inspired girls to embrace their differences and not be afraid to do what they love. They also support women who have been abused by domestic violence. It’s so nice that Amelia and Exposure can give girls an outlet to skateboarding where they can meet so many beautiful people and develop their passion for skateboarding. Skateboarding is one of the most enlightening sports ever. It’s a sport. It’s an art. It’s everything that you want it to be. It gives girls everywhere freedom. It gives everyone freedom to skate and get out there.
JEFF: Do you have any other organizations or charities that you support that promote skateboarding?
BRYCE: Yes. There are a lot of them. I’ve met so many girls that go out of their way to help kids learn how to skateboard all over the world too. Amelia and Lesli have done so much for skateboarding and donated so much money to the girls. People like Mikayla are doing the same. There’s the Poseiden Foundation and there is a thing called Skate Rising. It’s a clinic where girls learn how to skate and talk to each other about facing fears and not being afraid to do something. Everybody is kinda like Superwoman, so all of those girls out there get inspired. All of the girls skate together and try new things. When somebody lands a new trick for the first time, their smiles mean the world to me and Lesli and Amelia and everyone involved.
JEFF: That is so cool. Okay. Let’s talk about the Olympics. You’re on the U.S. National Team. Tell me how you got on the U.S. National Team and are you excited to be on it?
BRYCE: Yes. It’s crazy. I can’t even believe it. There are no real words for it. There were Olympic qualifiers and, at first, we didn’t really even know about it. It was all about the Vans Park Series for a while and things like the Dew Tour. We were just going around the world and doing competitions like the Vans Park Series and having fun. All of a sudden, the first Olympic qualifier event was mentioned. We were adapting and acclimating spontaneously to it. It was very new at first. We skated in the Dew Tour, which was the first Olympic qualifier for park skating, and then there was an Olympic qualifier in Nanjing, China in July 2019. Originally, there was a Vans Park Series in Shanghai in 2018 and then we all stayed an extra six days to skate in this World Skate event in Nanjing, China, which was the first World Skate-sanctioned event to establish ranking for the 2019 Olympic qualifying season. I ended up getting sixth and I was like, “Wow! That’s insane!” There were all of these new girls, like Misugu Okamoto from Japan, who was doing huge airs. Eventually, we all started hopping on board and we were like, “Skateboarding is going to be in the Olympics!” Just to say that is insane. If you look at the art of the sport and now where it’s going to the Olympics, it’s amazing. We started doing these Olympic qualifiers, which started in 2019, after that World Skate event, and a couple of people were pre-seeded. A couple of my friends and I started doing these qualifiers. It all started at the Dew Tour in June 2019, in Long Beach, California. That was the first one. We were all like, “Whoa!” Some of us were shaking with nervousness and excitement. That was the first qualifier and it was so new to everyone. Everyone was just adapting to it. We all had our boards and our friends, so we were all kinda comforted. I skated in the Dew Tour contest, which I was really happy about, and I ended up getting sixth there. That’s when Misugu was doing 540s and we were all pushing each other like, “Let’s see if we can do 540s. Let’s try these tricks.” After the Dew Tour, there was China, in July 2019, in Nanjing at an indoor park. I ended up getting seventh. I was taking it step by step because China was a big experience in itself. China is so beautiful in its culture and everything. After China, it was Sao Paulo Brazil, in September, and I got ninth there. I fell in one of my runs. One of the big picture things was to come out as one of the top Americans, so that was a big accomplishment.
JEFF: So you were one of top American women park skateboarders?
BRYCE: Yeah. On top of that, I got eighth in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2019. I was really proud of myself because I made it to the finals, which was my goal, especially with all of the crazy talent now. All of the girls are amazing. In 2019, there was the National Team before these qualifier events, and I got an email saying that I was on the National Team. I was freaked out and I was like, “Wait. What?” We were all kinda speechless. Then there was another gathering of the USA National Team, at the end of 2019, for the new 2020 USA National Olympic team. We’ve all grown up together and now that we’re on a big National Team together, which is the first ever National Team, it’s insane. We’re all just unbreakable together.
JEFF: Has being on the U.S. National Team changed how you look at skateboarding?
BRYCE: No. It’s just a whole new perspective and it just adds more excitement. It’s like another aspect of skateboarding. It’s not really going to change how I skateboard or how I view it.
[*The pandemic caused the cancellation of most of the remaining Olympic qualifying events for skateboarding scheduled for 2020. However, in 2021, as the final Olympic qualifying contest for Park Skating took place at the Dew Tour in Iowa, Bryce scored the highest points of the Team USA Women Park Skaters. This result established her place as the World Skate’s top ranked Team USA Women’s Park Skateboarder and earned her an official invitation to compete in Women’s Park Skating for Team USA in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.]
JEFF: How do you prepare for skateboarding in the Olympics?
BRYCE: I’ve been skateboarding a lot and I’m just trying to mix it up and become more diverse by going to new places and getting out of my comfort zone a little bit. I’m trying to take my fear and play with it and try new things. A lot of people have personal trainers and things like that. For me, I’m surfing and playing volleyball and things like that.
JEFF: Do you ever feel pressure when you’re skating in a contest?
BRYCE: Yeah. For sure. All of the pressure is self-created and self-oriented. My goal in a competition is to try to do the best for myself. I want to land my run that I’ve worked on. If I can land that, I’m good. I get so nervous and I think, “This is it. This is my shot. I want it so bad.” If I land my run, it’s just pure joy. Sometimes I feel more pressure than usual. It’s usually based on how much I want it.
JEFF: Do you have a favorite trick or way to look at a new park to skate? Is there something that you like to do in your run?
BRYCE: Well, one of the things that I always do is I look at the park from all different angles. I’m like, “Okay, there’s a big bank. Maybe I can do a big boneless disaster on that bank.” That’s a trick I really love, so I’ll try that and it will shoot me to another wall. One thing I love is going fakie on a lot of things. I feel like it’s more comforting for me. I’ll do a 50-50 fakie or a feeble grind fakie. That’s just one of the things that I enjoy doing a lot. It’s just more fun to me than coming in the other way. I’d rather go to fakie on a lot of things. So I’ll start off with a 50-50 fakie rather than a big air. Some girls like to drop in and just do a huge air, like Poppy. That’s her comfort trick, like a big backside air or a big invert. I love grinding and doing 50-50s.
JEFF: When you go to skate a new place, do you have any apprehension or do you just look at it and roll into it?
BRYCE: When I go to a new place, sometimes I’ll mind skate it first and get analytical. Other times, if I have a fear about something, I’ll roll around and just play with it or jump over it, until I get over the apprehension. When I’m trying something new, I’ll just put it in perspective. That’s how I knock the fear out of the way, by manipulating it and comparing it to things that I’ve skated before. I’ll just try to go for it. Once you take that first initial commitment, all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh, wow. I can do that.” I think it’s just about committing and having fun.
JEFF: Where is the best place you’ve ever skated outside of Encinitas? What is one of your favorite places you’ve gone to skate in the world?
BRYCE: That’s a tough one. In Malmo, Sweden, when I went to the 2017 World Championships, that bowl was so much fun. It had a nice deep end and a little tombstone. I want to skate it again. The other place that I like to skate is the Vans Huntington Beach Park. I like that little flow bowl there a lot. The indoor park, CA TF, is a fun place. They have a fun little street course and the park and the YMCA. There are so many good places now. There’s this really fun little ditch by my house and it has a big curb on the ditch where you can drop in and or go up there and do something on that curb and come back down. It has these little whoopty-doo things implanted in the ground, which is really fun.
JEFF: When you’re skating with your friends, does that inspire you?
BRYCE: Yeah. We all inspire each other. One girl will come up and do a trick in some crazy place that you never even thought of, and that’s another beautiful part of skating. You can see somebody do something that you’ve never thought of. Everyone has their own ideas and then we all look at each other and see new ideas and we can all build from that or grow from that idea and then we all put our own little spin on it. We all inspire each other and we put on music and laugh and go through the big rollercoaster together. It all goes hand in hand. We are all inspiring each other and pushing each other to get to the next level with everything, especially skateboarding.
JEFF: Do you think that surfing has helped your skateboarding or do you think it’s important to your skateboarding style?
BRYCE: I think surfing has had a big impact on the way that I think. I’ll be going up a ramp and feel like it’s a wave and come up and just kinda start surfing it. That’s a big part of it, the mindset. You feel like you’re on a wave when you’re skating sometimes. Other times you don’t feel like you’re on a wave when you’re skating. It comes in waves. [Laughs] Sometimes, on a wave, when you’re going down the line, all of a sudden, you’ll think of trying an air, just like skateboarding. Even snowboarding, you’ll be going down a slope and pretend it’s a wave. Your mind gets tricked into thinking it’s a wave, and you feel like you’re surfing, or you’re going off a jump and you’re thinking that maybe this could be skateboarding. They are all intertwined.
JEFF: Can you tell me what you’ve noticed about the progression in skateboarding, since you started skating, with the way that tricks are being done?
BRYCE: Since I was little, I went from being the only girl at the skatepark to now there are more girls than guys and we’re all skateboarding together. I don’t think specifically about gender. We’re all humans and we’re all trying things together, but I definitely have seen the progression because of how many girls there are. When one girl sees another girl do a 540 and she sees that other people are spinning, she thinks, “I’m going to try to spin. I can do it.” It’s about belief. When girls are trying big airs, and doing things you never thought were possible, you discover that there are endless possibilities and endless combinations. I think the progression has shot through the roof and it’s just going to keep growing, especially now that it’s entering places like the Olympics. Everything is just going to keep growing and it’s really nice to see that progression in the world. Skateboarding is changing lives. You go to places and give somebody a skateboard and you can skate with them and share that language through skateboarding and, suddenly, another door has opened up. I love that progression.
JEFF: I know that you’ve skated the skatepark in Venice. What do you think of the Venice Skatepark?
BRYCE: The Venice Skatepark is on the beach, so that’s really symbolic and fun. You can skateboard on the beach and see people surfing. I love Venice and all of the variety there. There’s a little flow bowl and the big bowl and little banks and street and the snake run. I think it’s a really cool place to build culture and a good place to make new friends too. I have a lot of good memories from there. My mom was going to drop into the big bowl and we were like, “Do it! Do it!” She actually dropped into the big bowl and that was a good memory and a cool thing that happened there.
JEFF: Nice. What are some of the challenges and advantages for you being a girl in skateboarding?
BRYCE: Being a girl in skateboarding, there are some challenges obviously, just like a lot of people think they have to stereotype because it’s been such a new deal to see a girl on a skateboard, but I think that’s changed so much because everyone is picking up a skateboard now. An advantage is that you get to meet so many new friends. You get to be a tomboy sometimes and other times you get to be a girl and put on make-up and go somewhere. Other times, you’ll be jumping off trees on skateboards. It’s fun to see the mix. You can be whoever you are and bring that into skateboarding. No matter what skateboarding tricks you can do or who you are, skateboarding is for everyone. I think it’s just fun to see that.
JEFF: You got to go to Colorado Springs to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. What types of training were you doing there and did you enjoy it?
BRYCE: That was really fun because that was one of the first trips that I got to go completely alone on and everyone was so nice. One of the girls showed me how to do hair and make-up and another girl showed me around the booths. There were all of these people there that are so talented, like these people that were doing bobsledding things. They were so strong and they were doing all of these pull ups and different training styles. I hadn’t really been exposed to that before. It was fun to get to try a mix of all these different things. I got to go around and interview them and ask them about their dreams and goals and how they got there and what they’re doing there and what they want to do in life. It was quite amazing to be able hear what they had to say and see how they think. I really enjoyed it. It was really fun getting to interview people and getting to try different things. Someone showed me about biking and push ups and pull ups and running styles. There are some super fast people there. There were all these cool things there and it was really fun for me.
JEFF: In going forward, do you have a strategy for competing in the Olympics?
BRYCE: One of my biggest strategies is to listen to my intuition and follow my heart. I know that sounds really weird, but I’m just trying not to overthink a bunch of different details. If I just let my stream of consciousness flow, and let my intuition and heart do the talking, maybe I can discover more things, than I would discover if I were thinking very analytically. Obviously, there is a lot of strategy in stretching and making sure you’re eating right, just to maintain confidence and be healthy. I’m just trying to live life on balance and stay openminded. I listen to my family too. They are really smart.
JEFF: Being on the U.S. National Team, they have uniforms. Do you like the uniforms?
BRYCE: Yeah. After the 2020 U.S. National Team was announced, we went to this private Nike place and they gave us some more uniforms and shoes and a big red and white jacket that is really nice and comfortable. We have two sets of jackets. One is a white and black pullover with a zipper and it says Nike and USA on it. Then we have a red and white big heavier jacket that we wear. I like the red and white one a lot because it has more color. There will be even more new uniforms later too. Now they have places for us to go and work out too. At this Nike center up in LA, we can do physical therapy and we are all learning different stretches and things to do before skating.
JEFF: Nice. Salba would be proud. If you got an Olympic medal, what would you do?
BRYCE: I think I’d be speechless if I got an Olympic medal. Even though I don’t cry a lot, I know I’d probably be in tears. I’d probably spend the day in a rush of emotions and not stop smiling. Just thinking about it, I go into shock. My dream of the X Games has evolved into the Olympics and it’s crazy.
JEFF: Well, I’m rooting for you. I really am.
JEFF: Yes! I think this is one of the highlights of the evolution of skating. Wait. I’m supposed to be asking you questions.
BRYCE: No. I love hearing this!
JEFF: To go from when I was young putting the together the Zephyr competition team for the Del Mar National Championships in 1975, which was the biggest contest we had going at that time, to where we are now, it’s incredible.
BRYCE: That’s insane.
JEFF: Yes! Here we are going to the Olympics and you’re one of the American women going to compete. Peggy Oki, was the number one woman back in 1975 and now you’re one of the Olympians and the top ranked woman American park skateboarder. I’m so ecstatic about your accomplishments and you being one of the first women to represent the United States in skateboarding in the Olympics.
BRYCE: Thank you!
JEFF: That’s my little soapbox. Now let me ask you this. What kind of music do you like?
BRYCE: I like all types of music. I’m really into ‘70s and ‘80s music, and some ‘60s music. All of those songs have a lot more meaning and there is a lot more in the songs than a lot of the pop songs from today. I love music from the ‘90s and 2000’s to dance to. When I’m skating, I like older music. My playlist has “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins and “Underneath It All” by No Doubt and “Purple Rain” by Prince and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. “Break My Stride” is a funny one. That one is a song that Poppy and I have fun skating to that one. “Bust A Move” is so much fun. Poppy and I dance to that one.
JEFF: Do you get to pick the music when you’re skating in a competition?
BRYCE: Yeah. At a lot of the Vans Park Series, there was a DJ and we’d always yell, “You gotta play it louder! You gotta play Beyonce!” The music is one of the highlights. One time it was raining and we all started playing music for the audience and we started dancing and spinning around on the island. After the competitions, there are these fun after parties and everyone will be playing music and dancing and it’s so much fun. Even at the hotels, we play music. There are two girls from Japan, Lisa and Mami, and there is Poppy from Australia, and Lucrezia who is from Italy, and we’re dancing to these songs, and it’s so funny because you see all of these different cultures and what they listen to. We’ll all play songs we like and share music.
JEFF: I know you play guitar and the ukulele. How did you get inspired to do that?
BRYCE: Well, for me, the ukulele and playing music and writing songs is so similar to skateboarding. It’s like going to another world. It’s just another form of creation and expression and I love writing new songs and trying to figure out different ways of expressing myself, in ways where it comes through music and different frequencies. Music has its own language and everyone has their interpretation. It’s a lot like skateboarding and surfing. I keep a book next to my desk and I write little songs in it that are special to me. I’m thankful for music.
JEFF: That’s cool. If you had a dream session skateboarding, who would you be skating with and where would it be?
BRYCE: My dream session skateboarding would probably consist of a whole day. Poppy would be there because she’s one of my best friends. All of my friends like Brady and friends that I grew up with like Sarah, and some of the people that I skated with at the YMCA would be there too. We’d go around town and find new places to skate. We would skate in my backyard and play music and everyone would have their own instrument, and we’d have a fun band. It would be by the ocean too.
JEFF: Would you go surfing too?
BRYCE: Oh yeah. We’d go to the beach and have a picnic and go surfing. After it got dark, we’d go skate Alga Norte and play a bunch of fun music, then we would build a big funhouse that has a bunch of ziplines that connect to different skateparks.
JEFF: I heard you’re riding for Bones Love Milk. Can you tell me about that?
BRYCE: They’ve given me so much support and love and they have fun events. What I love about it is that there are all of these different people on the team. Some of them don’t skate. Some of them are actors. They are all connecting through the team, so we can all try new things. Navia Robinson is an actress and she came to one of the events and she was learning how to skate and it was really fun. I met Stacy Peralta at one of the events and I was freaking out. He was directing a commercial for Bones Love Milk that I got invited to. It was really nice. Dashawn was in the commercial and Stacy was directing it. It was really fun.
JEFF: Where were you when you guys did that?
BRYCE: We were at the Huntington Beach Park. That was fun.
JEFF: Cool. Who are all your sponsors now?
BRYCE: There’s Stereo Skateboards, Bones Bearings, Bones Wheels, Independent Trucks, Converse, Bones Love Milk, Core Hydration, McGills Skate Shop, Pride Socks, Encinitas Surf, 187 Killer Pads, Lazy Acres, Triple 8 and MOB Grip.
JEFF: Cool. What’s the best thing about surfing that you like?
BRYCE: There’s something about surfing that can’t really compare to anything else. It’s very relaxing and it’s almost like there’s a certain energy level that you don’t get with anything else besides surfing. You’re out in the ocean and at one with the water. When you’re out in the ocean and you see the sunset, it’s one of the most magical things. There’s nothing more pure than the ocean. The fact that you can ride energy and see the sunset while there are live creatures like dolphins and sea turtles and seals all around you, it’s like you morph into another creature, like a mermaid, when you’re in the ocean. I feel like the ocean, like skateboarding, is very symbolic. It leads to an unknown place. You look out into the ocean and you know that someone else is looking out into the ocean at that moment too. You’ll see the clouds and the sunset and then you’re on a wave and everything is so unpredictable and spontaneous. You’ll think, “Maybe I can hit this section or try an air.” Sometimes you’ll just be gliding down a wave and it’s such an adrenalin rush.
JEFF: Yes! Is there anything you’d like to say to younger kids or the generations that are coming up behind you that want to skate or surf?
BRYCE: I would want to say to the kids around the world that the big thing is to never be close-minded. When you’re open-minded, suddenly, so many things waltz into your perspective. There is so much more room for growth and enjoyment. Always be open-minded and always persevere. Always have that mental stamina not to give up on something. When you do something and you land it, or you get a new trick or you discover something new that you’ve been working on for so long, it’s big confidence and satisfaction and enjoyment that you don’t get from anything else. Always work hard. Everyone has a dream that they are chasing in life. If you work hard and treat that passion like a passion and go for it and search for it and you’re curious about it and work hard, you’ll always be living your dream.
JEFF: Very cool. Is there anyone that you’d like to thank or give a shout out to?
BRYCE: Yeah. First, thanks to my mom and dad. I couldn’t have done anything without my mom and dad. They are my big supporters and I love them so much. They are my best friends. My mom is like my travel buddy and we have some of the most amazing and spectacular memories with each other. My dad will go out of his way to do something for me and I really appreciate that and it warms my heart and I’m so thankful for him. Thanks to Leslie, one of my family friends, and my aunts, and all of my family and all of my friends, and all of the people that have given me so much support and love over the years.
JEFF: Thank you for talking to me and sharing your story. I’m really rooting for you.
BRYCE: Thank you so much. I loved the questions too.
JEFF: Thanks. It was really cool to talk to you.
BRYCE: It was so nice talking to you too.
As USA Skateboarding introduced the USA Olympic Skateboarding Team, on June 21, 2021, Bryce was asked why she loves skateboarding. She answered, “It’s really hard to just blatantly say why you love skateboarding because there are so many instances and so many gratifications and so many ways you can put it. I feel like I love every time that I look at something when I’m on a skateboard. The whole image just drastically changes and everything is alternated because of the skateboard. I think it makes you see the sentiments of something. It makes you really hone in on what something is for its true meaning. When you see skateboarding, you see things the way they’re really supposed to be seen. That’s the language of skateboarding. It makes you see the world how you’ve always wanted to see it.”
The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 run from July 23, 2021 to August 8, 2021, with the Street Skateboarding Competition set for July 24th-25th and the Park Skateboarding Competition set for August 3rd-4th in Tokyo, Japan.